The West Midlands Technology Network (WMTN) has helped a Coventrybased company to redesign and improve one of its core products.

Woodway Engineering specialises in the design and manufacture of audio and visual equipment for emergency vehicles used by the police, fire fighting and ambulance services.

The WMTN is a collaboration of nine partners who collectively offer engineering product design and manufacturing consultancy free-of-charge to eligible small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands region.

Part- funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands, the £9.3 million project offers state-of-the-art techniques and equipment that would not normally be available to smaller companies.

On this occasion, it was Coventry University's Design Institute SME Support Programme that was able to offer the assistance.

One of the products that Woodway install is the OPTI-LINK keypad that controls auxiliary lighting and sirens.

The brief given to the Design Institute was to redesign the control pad to modernise its capabilities and improve the ergonomics whilst keeping the costs down.

The institute presented a number of concepts to Woodway, and a 3D solid model of the favoured design was constructed. After a few modifications, a rapid prototype model was produced to establish what the final product would look and feel like.

The design team at the institute also prepared an analysis on how to best manufacture the keypad to ensure maximum cost effectiveness.

Alan Skelhon, a director at Woodway, said: "I was very satisfied with the design input and manufacturing consultancy provided by the Design Institute through the West Midlands Technology Network."