By DE Editors
Summit Safety is a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of the Pathfinder, a firefighter tracking and locator system used by firefighters and emergency workers. When the company was in the process of finalizing the design for its new RIT Tracker, a next-generation device that is a lightweight, hand-held, multi-faceted rescue tool for firefighters, it was faced with an aggressive schedule to have product to market.
The RIT Tracker uses an intuitive interface so the firefighter can focus on navigating to the victim while simultaneously being aware of the surrounding conditions. The Tracker is designed to detect the ultrasound signal from a beacon and follow it back to its source. Ultrasound has the unique capability of following the air path between the beacon and tracker, meaning it actually shows the firefighter the pathway to the disabled firefighter, so he doesn’t have to breakdown any separating walls.
Summit Safety was pushing their timelines because they built in several improvements into the new Tracker from previous versions. They integrated new front-end electronics to improve signal input while simultaneously rejecting noise and increasing the system operating range. The new design also incorporates a doppler rejection technique that allows the firefighter to walk or crawl while scanning. An integrated long-wavelength, smoke-penetrating, red flashlight is included to help firefighters spot one another in dense smoke. Additionally, the RIT Tracker is significantly smaller in size and incorporates an internal Gear Keeper retractor.
The new system was a great enhancement for the firefighters using the product and in training sessions, many firefighters have felt confident enough to use the RIT Tracker with as little as one minute of instruction. In fact, all you have to do is scan a 360-degree circle and go in the direction of the strongest signal. The RIT Tracker will always tell you the direction of the shortest path to the firefighter, whether it is down a hallway, around a corner, or up the stairs.
The challenge to the company was getting the product to market fast so firefighters could begin using it right away. As a result, Summit Safety needed parts that would help complete the Tracker project and they did not have the luxury of time. Additionally, thought they were looking at a fast turnaround from a vendor, they did not want to pay a premium for the molds and they certainly did not want to sacrifice quality.
“We had the designed the parts already, but needed them in hand fast. We needed something to happen in a short time and in a large quantity,” said Zach Haase, project leader. “We also needed the tools built so we can then transfer them in-house after the first initial run.”
After searching the Internet and remembering Quickparts from past tradeshows and trade publications, Summit Safety contacted Quickparts and Haase submitted his files online. He says that within minutes, a Quickparts sales manager called to discuss the specific requirements of the project.
“We worked together to ensure that the designs would produce successful parts,” says Haase. “They provided very insightful design for manufacturing analysis, which helped me identify potential design flaws.”
Faced with an aggressive schedule to have product to market, a Quickparts team worked to help Summit Safety create the best design for what they needed. The Quickparts engineers helped Summit Safety understand certain design limitations and work through changes together. At that point Summit Safety released the program to Quickparts to begin the tool-build process.
Quickparts delivered the parts on schedule and, says Haase, provided invaluable design for manufacturing help. He says he considers the entire project a success and will likely be using Quickparts for future molding needs.