By Arlene GouldGeneral industrial design OEM R&D
D&V Electronics' commitment to R&D and user-centric industrial design drives the automotive test equipment company's continued growth.
Design offers Canadian manufacturers a competitive edge that is cost effective, sustainable and difficult to imitate. The key to harnessing the design advantage is to build ongoing relationships with industrial and graphic designers, and to integrate design at the earliest possible stage in the product development process. D&V Electronics is one Ontario company that understands this approach very well.
The Vaughan-based company is North America’s leading manufacturer of custom automotive testing equipment. Its competitive advantage is based on a commitment to continuous innovation, supported by a significant investment in R&D and a strong design vision. The computerized assessment tools developed by D&V are based on a universal software platform and user-centred design principles that have enabled the customization of products and services for over 400 large and small automotive clients worldwide.
Voiko Loukanov, a Bulgarian born and trained professor with a Ph.D in electronics, established D&V Electronics in 1997. Since then, he has built the business on a deep commitment to R&D.
"Over 15 percent of income is invested in research," he says. "We can’t compete with the manufacturing capability of China, so we have to beat them on innovations. We are continuously moving on, and it is hard to hit a moving target."
The equipment the company develops and customizes services smaller vehicles, trucks and tanks. Within the past four years, D&V Electronics has researched, developed, manufactured and marketed over 50 different types of testing equipment. Its focus on customer needs connects directly to the company’s product design philosophy that goes well beyond the functionality of its equipment to consider the adaptability, usability and ergonomics of specific product features.
"Even our first equipment was significantly better ergonomically than what customers had previously used," Loukanov explains.
The company’s new and improved vision for automotive testing originated with design thinking. When the company began, "only engineering people were designing in this industry," says Loukanov. To change that perspective, the company has worked in a fully integrated research and product development process with engineers, computer programmers and designers to enhance the features, benefits and overall look and feel of its various generations of equipment.