The Dutchman Okke van Mourik has already been working for 9 years at our Norvegian brand BeSafe. He and the product development team are the brains behind all the new BeSafe products. They are the ones who guarantee that the BeSafe products offer a maximum safety and ensure optimum protection for children. An interview!
What’s your personal motivation to be working for BeSafe?
Okke: To be able to contribute to saving children’s lives is the most fantastic task in my life. I have been developing products for children for more than 25 years and this job is still really interesting and still makes me happy.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas to develop new products?
Okke: Product developers have a curiosity gene by nature, which inspires them from what they’ve experienced. In our experience with children (as a parent or observer), they are a infinite source of inspiration, but also products, art, the environment and technology around us constantly inspire us.
How do you start developing new products?
Okke: At BeSafe, product development is a very structured process which is borne by the whole team. We have built a fantastic group of highly professional designers and engineers. We follow a very efficient and structured product development process where very specific criteria have to be met, in each phase of the process. During the development process, we work with the whole organization and the production partners to guarantee the best result and to realize the highest safety level casting a critical eye over the project.
How does BeSafe test its products before they get the approval to launch them?
Okke: Of course we test everything thoroughly. During the development process of an optimal safe product, we execute for instance simulated and real time collisions, in different stages of the development process. In order to create the ideal usability of the developed product, we run all operation modes of the car seat by our consumers and verify whether they are easy to comprehend and use. After the first production series, we test the durability on the basis of an elaborate practical test over an extensive period of time.
What are the most difficult criteria in the regulated product approval process, and why?
Okke: It depends on the product.
For instance: According to the UN R129 regulation, it’s very difficult to meet the criteria of lateral collisions for smaller dummies, which are used to pose as babies. We have to meet these safety criteria without the use of the additional SIP+ elements (Side Impact Protection): it’s a heavy and time-consuming task which takes a lot of effort to obtain a good score. But that’s our goal, of course!
Long before the existence of the current strict regulation,
BeSafe has launched a similar SIP (Protection against lateral collision).
Okke: Lateral collisions are, following frontal collisions, the second most common cause of injuries in young children. In case of this kind of collisions, the head of a child is the most vulnerable body part which can get hurt when it comes in contact with the vehicle door. Without enough protection to the head, a child can seriously be injured in case of a lateral collision. In order to offer the highest safety possible in that area, we developed the SIP+, our unique innovation. Thanks to the SIP+, we can advance the contact between the vehicle door and the car seat and absorb the impact very efficiently through the distortion of the SIP+ element (comparable to the crumple zone of a car). That’s how we can reduce the shock effect of the collision drastically. Not surprisingly, all BeSafe car seats scored a ‘Very good’ in the ADAC/ Stiftung Warentest car seat tests of 2016.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to developing car seats for children?
Okke: The biggest challenge is to develop a car seat which performs perfectly every time a collision occurs and is at the same time user-friendly and attractive to parents. Safety performances are a very abstract fact for the public. Sometimes the design and the outlook are crucial when buying a car seat because people definitely count on the fact that a BeSafe car seat will offer the highest safety.
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