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10 November 2011 | PR 11/138

Loughborough University helps Stannah Stairlifts to gain a better understanding of its customers’ needs

Ageing Suit - Stannah

Iconic British company Stannah Stairlifts has utilised the expertise of Loughborough University academics to help its staff better understand the challenges faced by its customers.

The international stairlift manufacturer is using a state-of-the-art osteoarthritis simulation suit – developed by University ergonomists – to enable its engineers and sales staff to gain a personal insight into what it is like to suffer from the condition.

Experts from the Loughborough Design School SKInS (Sensory and Kinaesthetic Interactive Simulations) Programme have been researching wearable simulations of given health conditions for more than 15 years.  They have developed a range of suits that are proving invaluable to organisations in many sectors including transport, construction, healthcare, banking and finance.  The Loughborough team also collaborated with clinicians at the University Hospitals of Leicester to deepen their knowledge of osteoarthritis, which affects about 8 million people in the United Kingdom.

Two years ago, Stannah commissioned the inventor of the osteoarthritis suit, Sharon Cook as a consultant to help its research and development experts use the suit to improve product design.  Stannah has now bought its own suit to use in global training and induction sessions to help its staff understand more about the difficulties encountered by a large number of its clients.

Sharon Cook, Manager of the SKInS Programme said: “The aim of our wearable simulations is to enable those without a health condition, such as osteoarthritis, to obtain some insight into how it feels and what its impacts to daily living might be.  In this way, empathy with suffers is generated amongst designers, sales teams and staff trainers, thereby guiding improvements to future product and service design.

“Since the number of over 85s in the UK is projected to more than double by 2035, it can be assumed that the prevalence of arthritis will also increase.  Therefore all organisations – from supermarkets to air carriers – will need to radically consider how they can accommodate this growing market segment and wearable simulations are a powerful mechanism for facilitating this change in approach.”

Nick Stannah, Product Marketing Director at Stannah Stairlifts, added: “It is through innovative techniques like this that we can ensure our products and staff continue to help our customers retain their independence in and outside of the home.  Indeed, the osteoarthritis suit is already having a very positive impact on how Stannah designs its products and empathises with the needs of its customers.”


For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

  1. Stannah is a world-leader in lift manufacturing, producing stair lifts, passenger lifts, escalators and moving walkways, vertical platform lifts, goods and service lifts.  It is one of Britain’s leading engineering companies and remains an independent, family owned and run firm.  The company’s experience of the lift industry is unsurpassed, originating in cargo lifts in the 1860s.  In 1975, Stannah designed the first affordable, quick-to-install and easy-to-use stairlift and has since sold over 500,000 stairlifts worldwide.

    Stannah is run today by fourth generation joint chairmen Alan and Brian Stannah, who launched the revolutionary Microlift and Maxilift in the 1960s and the Stannahstairlift in the 1970s. Today they are supported by the fifth generation of the family - Jon, Patrick, Alastair and Nick Stannah - who are proud torchbearers for Stannah’s long-held family spirit and traditions.

    Stannah now operates in more than 40 countries and has subsidiaries in nine countries including Holland, Italy and America.  For more information visit http://www.stannah.co.uk/www.stannahstairlifts.co.uk

  2. The Loughborough SKInS (Sensory and Kinaesthetic Interactive Simulations) Programme, which researches and develops wearable simulations of given health conditions, is one of a handful of international groups working in this field.  Although wearable simulations is a relatively new field, Loughborough has been active in it for nearly 15 years and can point to past successes such the Third Age (Ageing) Suit for the Ford Motor Company, which was followed by the Osteoarthritis Suit which was developed in 2006 for Napp Pharmacuticals.  Research in this area is constantly being pushed forward  through the Loughborough SKInS Programme with the current area of work relating to simulations of Occupational Health conditions.  For further information, contact the Loughborough SKInS Programme Manager, Sharon Cooke by emailing: s.e.cook@lboro.ac.uk or visit: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/lds/galleries/research-enterprise/skins.html

  3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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