Innovation Story: What it Takes to Design Highly Awarded Respiratory Products

Photo credit: May Wilson and Tanguy Prevot

Innovation Story: What it Takes to Design Highly Awarded Respiratory Products

Turns out, you don’t always have to revolutionize product design to come up with a celebrated design. You “only” need an extremely well-executed product that functions perfectly for its intended purpose and is safe and comfortable to use. Such is the case of Honeywell North PA500 and PA910 PAPR, recently awarded the iF Design.

Tanguy Prevot, Lead User Experience Designer at Honeywell, shared his experience designing life-saving products that are also celebrated for their design, such as the PA500+PA910 and the Honeywell North PA920, which received the Red Dot Award this year as well.

1.      What were you asked to design?

We needed to design a PAPR system, i.e., a blower (PA500) and a range of headpieces (PA900 series). The range depends on the use case, such as with or without a shroud or with or without head protection (certified like a hard hat).

2.      What was the thought process behind the choices in terms of function and form?

One aspect is of course the hazard from the external world. This means performance in terms of respiratory protection, protection against projections towards the face (sparks, particles, splashes), head protection, and even compatibility with earmuffs for hearing protection. Most of this is regulated by certification standards.

Then another side of the project is about the user. Comfort, usability, and adjustability on the head, thermal comfort, avoiding dry eyes or cold nose from the air draft, ease of maintenance, and so forth. And all of this, within the Honeywell Design Language.

We put a lot of effort into embedding the pivot of the vizor into the shape of the headpiece, making a replaceable vizor without adding visible locks, and integrating nicely the hose connector at the back.

3.      How did you balance the functionality with the innovative design?

The design of the headpiece is reflecting the form of the human head. So, the prominent rim around the head corresponds to eyebrows and extends backward to embed the pivot of the vizor frame. The mohawk area on PA920 is the reinforcement that makes it a certified hard hat.

Similarly, the chin feature is a grip feature to help to open the vizor. We gave it shapes that seemed natural on a face/head and we avoided features that would look like after-thoughts or added gimmicks.

For the PA500 blower, the focus was on size reduction. We wanted to avoid any snagging on any kind of obstacle in the workplace, so we kept it smooth. And we made sure the battery stays in place no matter what happens during use.

4.      What makes it different and, at the same time, relevant for a global audience?

There might be different levels of expectations in the world, but at the end of the day, safety and comfort at work are drivers of productivity. That is always relevant to our customers. We also want PPE to be well perceived by workers because it encourages them to use it and stay safe. We put effort into making sure that the air stream doesn’t dry the eyes of the user, and that no cold spot gets generated on the face. We achieved that both by simulations and testing with thermal head forms, with a dozen different designs.

We want workers to be proud of their equipment. So, we also put focus into craftsmanship - no surface defects, no wobbly surfaces, no uneven textures. And we deliver the headpiece in a textile bag for storage. I hope workers will feel respected and will respect their equipment.

5.      What do you hope will be the impact of your product?

Respiratory hazards are often underestimated, and if the protective equipment isn’t comfortable, isn’t practically usable, or is visually embarrassing, then users tend to work without it. These recognitions of the design quality of PA500 and PA900 illustrate our deliberate focus on user satisfaction because it drives compliance, safety, and productivity.

Curious to know more about Honeywell’s respiratory protection solutions? Discover the entire range of Powered Air Purifying Respirators.


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