We sat down with Mike to learn more about what happens behind the scenes at Diono
Q: Hey, Mike! Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about behind the scenes at Diono. Firstly, could you tell readers a little bit about your role here? Hi Megan, I would be happy to share with your readers. My primary roles here at Diono include, new car seat design and development, iterative improvements to our existing car seats and troubleshooting an occasional challenge. I also assist with the crash testing of our seats and help answer some of the more technical questions from our customers.
Q: We’re known for our original 3-across design, and our famous steel core, but could you tell us something we might not know about the design and innovation of our products? Those are definitely two of our famous attributes, and that steel frame makes our Radian car seat significantly stronger. Other design innovations in our seats include expandable sides for growing children, the ability to fold the seat for storage, and attachments for shoulder straps to carry the seat like a backpack.
Q: Our latest addition to the Radian® family, the 3RXT Safe+®, has a ton of features and upgrades from the original model. Was it difficult to take such a popular and recognizable car seat and create a new version? Yes and no. Yes, there is always a bit of apprehension in changing or updating a great product. The Radian has a strong legacy and almost a cult following. When updating any great product, the main goal is to make improvements without losing the essence and characteristics that made the product great in the first place. So, when I was given the chance to make some changes, I started looking for areas we wanted to upgrade, improved use rear facing, greater adjustability of the head support, better side impact protection, and a more contemporary look and feel.
Q: What is your favorite thing about engineering Diono car seats? Diono values safety, innovation, and the best customer experience. Because I share these same values, designing and engineering car seats for Diono is very rewarding.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face when designing a new product? Car seat design presents a broad range of challenges, like designing a vehicle but on a smaller scale. Of course, like any product it should be innovative, meet user specifications, and be appealing to consumers. In addition, the seat should also be intuitive to use for first time users, meet stringent State and Federal chemical and material requirements, meet the regulatory physical requirements and meet and exceed the most rigorous dynamic crash test requirements.
Q: What are the biggest triumphs you think Diono has achieved? In the car seat industry, the Radian car seat is legendary. It was launched in about 2006 and I recall reviewing it early in my career. The seat was a first for 3 across, included a super strong steel frame and folds for storage. Back in 2006, nobody was doing that. Now, over 16 years later we still receive photos showing how well this fits 3 across and thank you letters of how this seat and its passenger survived some of the worse car crashes. That warms my heart!
Q: Could you explain Safe+® Engineering in a bit more detail? Safe+ Engineering is a way of calling out a features and products that are specifically designed to go above the regulatory requirements. True our car seats are always designed to meet or exceed the required regulations, but Safe+ is even beyond that. For example, the heavy-duty steel frame used in the Radian car seats helps them survive crash forces significantly greater than required by FMVSS 213, plus it gives the seat a much longer useable life.
Q: What does a day in the life of Mike look like? Here’s a typical day.
I generally start my morning about 7:15 am, do a quick review of the morning emails from our UK office or our team and partners in Asia. At 8:00 am we typically have our morning PD or compliance meeting with the UK team. At 10 am I start responding to questions and emails from US and the UK. Once that’s done, I turn my attention to working on CAD for new or existing products, and tooling for products in the pipeline. In the afternoon I respond to the tooling and product development questions from Asia, so they are ready to go in their morning. And then a few times a month around 7:30 to 8:30pm, like last night, I have a call with one of factories to review new product development, progress on prototypes, or to help with tooling questions. That about sums it up!
Q: Could you summarize what innovation means to Diono, and any of our biggest inspirations? We often hear the quote "Necessity is the mother of invention" or Plato's Republic says, "our need will be the real creator". I would say our biggest inspiration is the needs and desires of our customers. We are always looking for ways to make our car seats safer for all types of crashes, easier to use, easier to clean, and with improvements that help make our customers experience and travel more enjoyable. On a larger scale, we also value the reduction of waste, continually reviewing our products to improve the ability to recycle and our packaging to reduce waste.
Q: Lastly, without giving too much away, can our Diono Family look forward to even more innovative designs from us soon?Yes, coming soon we have exciting updates of our current car seats, and we are working on some new car seat projects that we are very excited about. Stay tuned!