Sikker will known for being both safe and secure but if it is not locked securely to the pannier rack, all the careful design consideration will be useless. In my first-hand visits to stores such as Halfords, I found most of the models attach by Velcro. This is not secure enough for a system that will be transporting a moving animal so I had to think out of the box.
My final idea was, in reality, very simple. I used P-Clips, that are used frequently in bicycle mechanics, as the method to connect the Sikker system to the pannier mount. The Sikker system will have 10 sets of holes connect the P-Clips to.
step by step
Safety and security were the two most crucial elements in my product and the two S's I focus most on in the creation of Svane and Sikker. In my final concept there is a total of five steps to lock the system. Two of these are on the Svane model to ensure the cat is locked into the pet carrier while the other three are on the Sikker model to lock the pet carrier to the bicycle. Each one of these steps are crucial for both user's safety.
step 1 - magnetic door
The top of the side doors each have a magnetic strip that connects to the closure. The magnetic closure and force that connects the door to the top of the carrier can be felt by the customer and gives them the reassurance the door is securely closed.
Step 2 - quadruple strap
Although the magnetic will initially lock the door shut, it will not be strong enough to stop the cat from escaping. I added double scraps on both side doors making the whole system a quadruple strap locking mechanism. In additional to ensuring the cat would not escape, my adding a strap that has to be physically fastened by the user makes them trust the lock rather than just relying on another system. This product psychology is important for a user who is concerned with the safety of their pet.
step 3 - t bolt slide
I used a T-bolt sliding mechanism so that when the base of Svane slides onto the Sikker system, the only way it can be taken off it slides out backwards. This makes it much easier for the user to fit the system on and will be secure once it is in place. On older designs, I used a straight design, however this could be easily removed by picking up the Svane carry case. The T-bolt locks the system in from both the side and the top making it very secure.
step 4 - housing
The housing, taking from inspiration from the front of a ski boot, locks the base in at one end, with the two teeth fitting into the cutout holes so they are in the correct position. Initially I was going to use clips at both ends but I because this end was under the bicycle seat this would be an issue for the user, making it near to impossible to clip and lock into place. I found one set of clips and a housing would give the same strength and security, but be a much easier system for the user to use.
step 5 - double clip and lock
Finally, as had chosen to place a housing on one end, the other side would need the clips. The clip and lock final step was inspired by a series of Tupperware boxes I experimented with in my research. One element I liked about these systems was not only the fact they worked and securely fastened the lid the box, but they gave me the reassuring 'click' noise that told me the box was securely closed. If I did not hear this noise, I was not convinced the Tupperware was closed. We find this a lot in the automotive market, with fabricated noises for the sound of a door closing being implemented to reassure the customer they have closed their car door properly. I wanted to reflect this same sensory signalling in my design on the final step as an audio reminder that their pet is safe and the carry case is firmly connected onto the bicycle.
In conclusion, for a product that is ensuring both safety and security, I think each one of these steps is crucial in earning the customers trust and ensuring them there pet is safe when using this system.
Through-out this project, I have created multiple concepts, started and scrapped lots of different ideas but ultimately, I have had a vision for my bicycle-suitable pet carry case from the start. Initially I was thinking more about the aesthetic of the product, and may have forgot it's initial function: suitability and safety on the bike. Yet, as I refined more and more, I saw the final outcome come to life and encompass all I had wanted to achieve in the final outcome of the project.
After sketching a few experimental concepts, I decided upon final form of the American postal box shape that was inspired by a comment life in a bicycle forum about making suitable cages for smaller pets. I was next working on the locking mechanism, doors and secondary function to create the final outcome.
As my target market will have smaller homes, they will need more innovative storage and multifunctional usage out of the product. In this set of designs I deliberated with hanging the carry case come cat bed from the ceiling or off at an angle from the wall so it did not take up much floor space. I used the front door to double up as stairs so that the cat can access the bed.
In my research, I found that a lot of pannier storage products have hanging storage either side of the wheels and I wanted to include this in my final concept. However, I also wanted to find an innovative way of utilizing it when not in use. I dabbled with options such as making a tent-like cat bed using the side doors and the stretchy pannier fabric.
I moved on to deciding what storage could be used for in the pannier storage. I thought about utilizing it solely for the pet including water bottles, food, treats. toys or smells to calm them when they are in the carry case in addition to storage for the primary user of the cyclist for their possessions.
I though about utilizing all three doors that I had created use as a way of picking the bed off the floor. The exposed carry case could have elements like a hammock, scratching posts or a place to hang toys.
I thought about more flexible options that could possibly fold down into a bag, but later chose against this as a hard shelled option was more beneficial for both primary and secondary stakeholders for safety.
I took inspiration from other markets, such as the baby pram market, and the natural world which is where inspirations for ideas such as this armadillo-looking concept came from.
I looked at the possibility of detaching the base from the top for easy removal of the cat inside, as I found from research that shaking or grabbing at the cat in the carry case is both harmful to yourself and your pet. I also looked more into using the front door as stairs and putting the case on legs as the bed. I started to think about the whole picture including consideration for an comfy, ergonomic handle and possibly ways of attaching to the pannier.The majority the models I had found in my trips to Halfords and research online for pannier storage used Velcro as a main way of securing the storage. I knew I had to create a secure locking system that users would have confidence in and trust.
Again, I dabbled back and forth with armadillo-inspired doors and combing hard shell with fabric.
I realised that the most important element to my design would be the safe and secure way it was locked into place. This would be the factor that would separate it from the existing models on the market and be a leading USP of why customers would choose my product over other options. I looked into inspiration from ski boot locking mechanisms and twist locking mechanisms but I found these would all be distressing for the animal when they were in the carry case. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that a sliding locking mechanism would be the least disruptive for the pet.
I looked at racking systems and chest of drawers for initial inspiration.
I looked at everyday mechanisms such as the Devlin clip or the Clip and Lock mechanism seen a lot on Tupperware.
I realised the base of my carry case would need some sort of lip on the front and back end to help lock into place.
I began to get closer to my final outcome as I decided upon a housing to secure the front end into place, a bar path to allow a sliding motion into the mechanism and a double clip lock element to secure all the elements into place.
I thought about also using this sliding mechanism to incorporate my additional storage option.
However, I found that a T-bolt would be much stronger and much easier for manufacture than my straight edge or even dovetail sliding mechanism. This would give additional strength in the base and add an extra locking point on the base.
I also thought about how the doors would securely lock and though about different strap options.
I identified all the different options I had created in my head and made some final decisions to simplify the idea as much as I could without compromising the design. By simplifying the idea, it would illiminate unnecessary features, one of those being the front door.
The final concept only has the two side doors to allow easy and stress-free access to the pet. In addition to the straps, there will also be a magnetic door to ensure a safer locking mechanism.
I did some rough sketch work of adding the holes for air flow and how these would be positioned on the sides and back of the carry case.
Exploring handle options was also important to create an ergonomic and comfy carry system.
I decided to raise the bottom more after the success I saw with the sketch model and giving the cage a more box-like feel. This created a more curious and comfy environment for the cat.
I decided the easiest way to attach the base to the carrier was with a series of P-clips that are widely used in the cycling world.
Providing a set of screw, bolts and P-clips would allow the user to attach the perminant base to their personal pannier.
My final design includes the Sikker base that locks onto the pannier mount and the Svane pet carry case and pet bed.
The final design includes:
One of the main reasons I created a persona with a pet, is because I believe primary experience and testing is crucial for successful product design. Having creative empathy is a fantastic quality and helps you experience the problem with the user meaning you are more likely to know how the issue could potentially be solved. In addition to testing on the bicycle and with the primary user, I felt testing with a cat would not only help to ensure the scale was correct but also provide first hand feedback from the animal.
The reason I choose my final double side door concept was because this gained the best reaction for Lilli, my cat. She liked that it was tall enough for her to stand up in and that she could walk the whole way through. I feel this made her more curious and she did not feel trapped in as many cats fear when they experience a conventional cat carrier.
I added a lip at the bottom, similar to a litter tray, to give a subtle box-like feel to the model. Cats are known for liking to fit into box-like objects and so this simple addition made her want to sit down and make herself comfortable in the carry case. When she was relaxed I found I could close one door and then the other without her frantically trying to escape, which is an issue I have found with pet carry cases in the past. This method is less stressful for both the user and the cat.
All in all, I am very happy with my final design. Cats are very independent creatures and this is no different for my cat Lilli. They do not liked to be forced into anything so creating a product that intrigues their curiosity and makes them want to use the product than have to means a trip to the vet is much more simple.
I think making the Svane model both a carry case and pet bed will ensure the cat will eliminate negative connotations they would naturally associate with the carry case and creates a place of sanctuary for the cat.
Unlike Eindhoven, I only took leaflets to make notes on so I could remember where I had had an idea and what piece had inspired it. Therefore I think it important I present these light bulb moments on this blog in addition to the rest of my Milan series.
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