Innovation, research and development A Dyson case study
Page 1: Introduction
The Dyson Dual CycloneTM is the first breakthrough in vacuum cleaner technology since 1901. In 1979, James Dyson noticed that his bag vacuum cleaner only picked up dirt properly with a new bag and that it lost suction rapidly as the bag filled. The vacuum cleaner bag needs to collect the dust, but allow air to pass through via tiny pores, in order to maintain airflow and therefore suction. In fact, the dust quickly clogs these pores and blocks the airflow. Because the air is blocked, the cleaner’s suction is reduced very quickly.
So James Dyson set out to design a vacuum cleaner that worked better. five years and 5,127 prototypes later, the world’s first vacuum cleaner with no bag and no loss of suction arrived. Any product which is clearly different from those of its competitors is said to be differentiated. James Dyson spent two years trawling the UK and Europe looking for someone to license the product. He finally sold his machine under licence in Japan where it became a status symbol, selling for £1200 apiece.
A licence is a commercial contract, which allows an overseas manufacturer to produce a product and use a patent or brand name. Using the income from this licence, James focused on his plan to manufacture a new model in Britain. He started in his workshop at his house in Bath, together with a small team of young design engineers. In 1993, 15 years after he had the initial idea, he opened his own research centre and factory in Wiltshire, producing the DC01 – the first in the Dyson Dual CycloneTM range of vacuum cleaners. Throughout this entire process, James Dyson and Dyson Appliances concentrated on planning for the long term rather than giving in to the apparent attractions of short-termism.