• Question: What is the most complex product you have created or designed?

    Asked by Clarenz Badlis to Adam, Eloise, Iona, Jarrod, Yip on 16 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Jarrod Hart

      Jarrod Hart answered on 16 Jun 2016:


      Anything with people is complex. The products I design are far simpler than the teams of people who make them!

      It is like herding cats – trying to get the people with the money to talk to the people who want the product to talk to the people who know how to make the product to talk to the people who know how to design the factory … and then go around in circles a few times and back a few steps and then again in a different order…. aaaaaargh.

      Really, my products are simple, but making them never is.

    • Photo: Iona Strawson

      Iona Strawson answered on 17 Jun 2016:

      The most complex has been a complete new machine. It involved a team of 12 engineers, we all worked on different parts. We had mechanical, electrical, hardware and software engineers contributing.

      The machine differed from our other products because it was bigger and put together slightly differently. We went back to the drawing board basically.

      The machine works by product such as rice sliding down a chute. It passes in front of a bank of cameras, which use software to analyse the images. If the software detects a defect then a blast of air is used to push the defect product out of the product stream. This all happens in a matter of seconds.

    • Photo: Man Hang Yip

      Man Hang Yip answered on 18 Jun 2016:

      The most complex thing I have designed is not a product, but a factory layout of how production can take place. I designed for a electronic factory, how many production lines to do what types of products, how each line can change over from making one product to another product, how materials are supplied to these production lines, so that they can produce to customer orders efficiently. I used the same number of people, machines, space to design a new process and factory layout so that the factory can produce 7 times more.

    • Photo: Eloise Taysom

      Eloise Taysom answered on 20 Jun 2016:

      At the moment I think about how to design complex systems of people at technology – like cities, organisations, governments. These types of system are partly designed and partly evolve over time, so no one person or team ‘designs’ them. This makes them really really complicated. I try to work out where in those systems you can change in the future when unexpected stuff happens. For example, imagine what might happen to your school if climate change made the temperature go up a lot. There are lots of ways you could cope with that change: redesign your buildings to be cooler, have new ways of travelling to school, or even move to live somewhere else.

      I’ve also done a lot of product design, mainly for smaller products, like a programming language for blind kids. They are technically complicated but the real complexity is in working out what you should design in the first place and whether it meets real human needs.