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|Headquarters||Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England, UK|
|Key people||James Dyson
(Deputy managing director)
desk fans (see products listing)
|Revenue||GB £1 billion (2011)|
|Profit||GB £306 million (2011)|
Dyson Ltd is a British technology company that designs and manufactures vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, bladeless fans and heaters. It sells machines in over 50 countries and employs 3,100 people worldwide. The company prides itself on engineering products which work in different and better ways than their predecessors. Dyson’s founder, James Dyson, famously created 5,127 prototypes of his first machine, the vacuum cleaner, in a workshop behind his house, before developing one that he considered worked perfectly, the DC01.
In 1971, Dyson discovered a number of problems with the conventional wheelbarrow he was using while renovating his property. He found that the wheel sank into the mud, was unstable and was prone to punctures; the steel body caused damage to paint work and became covered with dried cement. These problems got Dyson thinking about improvements, and by 1974 Dyson had a fibreglass prototype of a barrow with a ball instead of a wheel. The Ballbarrow was born.
Later that year Dyson bought a Hoover Junior vacuum cleaner. The Hoover became clogged quickly and lost suction over time. Frustrated, Dyson emptied the bag to try to restore the suction but this had no effect. On opening the bag to investigate, he noticed a layer of dust inside, clogging the fine material mesh and preventing the machine working properly. The machine only worked well with a fresh bag, it lost suction over time. He resolved to develop a better vacuum cleaner that worked more efficiently.
During a visit to a local sawmill, Dyson noticed how the sawdust was removed from the air by large industrial cyclones. Centripetal separators are a typical method of collecting dirt, dust and debris in industrial settings. Such methods usually were not applied on a smaller scale because of the higher cost. Dyson reportedly hypothesised the same principle might work, on a smaller scale, in a vacuum cleaner. He removed the bag from the Hoover Junior and fitted it with a cardboard cyclone. On cleaning the room with it, he found it picked up more than his bag machine. This was the first vacuum cleaner without a bag.
According to @Issue: The Journal of Business and Design (vol. 8, no. 1), the source of inspiration was in the following form:
In his usual style of seeking solutions from unexpected sources, Dyson thought of how a nearby sawmill used a cyclone—a 30-foot (9.1 m)-high cone that spun dust out of the air by centrifugal force—to expel waste. He reasoned that a vacuum cleaner that could separate dust by cyclonic action and spin it out of the airstream would eliminate the need for both bag and filter.
Dyson developed 5,127 prototype designs between 1979 and 1984. The first prototype vacuum cleaner, a red and blue machine brought Dyson little success, as he struggled to find a licensee for his machine in the UK and America. Manufacturing companies like Hoover did not want to licence the design, probably because the vacuum bag market was worth $500m so the Dyson was a threat to their profits.
In 1983, a Japanese company, Apex, licensed Dyson's design and built the G-Force, which appeared on the front cover of Design Magazine the same year. In 1986, a production version of the G-Force was first sold in Japan for the equivalent of US$2,000. The G-Force had an attachment that could turn it into a table to save space in small Japanese apartments.
In 1991, it won the International Design Fair prize in Japan, and became a status symbol there.
Using the income from the Japanese licence, James Dyson set up the Dyson company, opening a research centre and factory in Wiltshire, England, in June 1993. His first production version of a dual cyclone vacuum cleaner featuring constant suction was the DA001 (replaced by the DC01 the following year), sold for £200. Even though market research showed that people wouldn’t be happy with a transparent container for the dust, Dyson and his team decided to make a transparent container anyway and this turned out to be a popular and enduring feature which has been heavily copied. The DC01 became the biggest selling vacuum cleaner in the UK in just 18 months.
After the introduction of the cylinder machine, DC02, DC02 Absolute, DC02 De Stijl, DC05, DC04, DC06 and DC04 Zorbster, the root Cyclone was introduced in April 2001 as the Dyson DC07, which uses seven smaller funnels on top of the vacuum. By 2009, Dyson began creating other air-powered technologies, the AirBlade hand drier, the Air Multiplier bladeless fan and Dyson Hot, the bladeless fan heater.
In July 2010 Dyson lost a legal action against Vax in the High Court. The ruling rejected Dyson’s claim that the Vax Mach Zen had infringed one of its registered designs. However, although it lost this case in Britain (and the subsequent appeal in 2011) it won a similar case against Vax's sister company, Dirt Devil, in France.
The James Dyson Award and the James Dyson Foundation
The James Dyson Award is an international student design award running in 18 countries. It is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to encourage the next generation of design engineers to be creative, challenge and invent. The international winner of the James Dyson award will receive £30,000 for themselves and £10,000 for their university.
The James Dyson Foundation aims to inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers. By visiting schools and universities and providing workshops for young people, the foundation hopes to encourage creativity and ingenuity. Over 727 schools in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have used Dyson’s education boxes to send to teachers and pupils in order to learn more about the design process. The James Dyson Foundation also provides bursaries and scholarships to aspiring engineers.
A Dyson vacuum cleaner uses cyclonic separation to remove dust and other particles from the air stream. Dirty air enters a conical container called a cyclone, where it is made to flow in a tight spiral. Centrifugal force throws the particles out of the airflow onto the wall of the container, from which they can fall into a bin. The vacuum cleaner uses several stages of cyclones. Dyson states that centrifugal forces can reach 100,000 G.
Air Multiplier Technology
The Dyson Air Multiplier fan has no external blades. Air is pushed through an annular aperture set within the loop amplifier. This creates a jet of air which passes over an airfoil-shaped ramp that channels its direction. Surrounding air is drawn into the airflow (this is called inducement and entrainment). Dyson states that the initially generated air flow is multiplied between 15 and 18 times for AM01, AM02 and AM03, projecting a smooth stream of uninterrupted air.
Criticisms and controversy
In March 2011 Sir James Dyson, the founder and current managing director of Dyson gave an interview to The Sunday Times newspaper in the UK; he said that foreign students take the science and technology knowledge home with them after completing their studies. Dyson said some overseas students continue to pose a threat even after leaving the UK. "Britain is very proud about the number of foreign students we educate at our universities, but actually all we are doing is educating our competitors." "I've seen frightening examples. Bugs are even left in computers so that the information continues to be transmitted after the researchers have returned home."
Production moves to Malaysia
Initially, all Dyson vacuum cleaners and washing machines were made in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. In 2002, the company transferred vacuum cleaner production to Malaysia. Dyson stated that the company requested planning permission to expand the factory to increase vacuum cleaner production, but that this application failed. However, the local government says that no such permission was ever sought, as the land Dyson planned to use was privately owned and the original owner did not want to sell. As Dyson was the major manufacturing company in Wiltshire outside Swindon, this move aroused some controversy. A year later, washing machine production was also moved to Malaysia.
In 2004, the Meiban-Dyson Laundry Manufacturing Plant was launched in Johor, Malaysia. The newly opened RM 10 million (approx. $2.63 million) plant is a joint venture between Dyson and Singapore-based Meiban Group Ltd., which has manufacturing facilities in Singapore, Malaysia and China.
Dyson states that the cost savings from transferring production to Malaysia enabled investment in research & development at their Malmesbury head office.
In 2007 Dyson formed a partnership with the Malaysian electronic manufacturer VS Industry Bhd (VSI) for them to take on a major role in Dyson's supply chain, from raw material sourcing and production to distribution. VSI also undertook an extensive production plan to supply finished products to Dyson's destination markets around the globe (America, UK, Japan, etc.).
While it is often mentioned that Dyson has nearly 4,000 employees, however Dyson has not publicly explained where those employees are actually located. However, it is known that VS Industry Bhd (VSI) currently has around 4,250 employees at their Malaysian facility which manufactures Dyson products, and in 2007 it was reported that Dyson alone was responsible for 80% of VS Industry Bhd (VSI) revenue.
In December 2011, The Independent reported that Bell Pottinger executive, Tim Collins, had been filmed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism saying that PM David Cameron had raised a copyright issue with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao on behalf of Dyson Limited "because we asked him to".
Lawsuit by Excel Dryer
On 5 December 2012, a lawsuit by hand dryer manufacturer Excel Dryer was filed against Dyson, claiming that Dyson's advertising comparing the Airblade to the Excel Dryer XLERATOR is deceptive. Dyson's advertisements state the XLERATOR produces twice as much carbon dioxide, is worse for the environment, and costs more to operate than the Airblade. Excel Dryer claims that Dyson was falsifying its comparisons by submitting a 20 second dry time for the XLERATOR to the Materials Systems Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, rather than Excel Dryer's tested 12 second dry time, thus inflating energy consumption figures in the Airblade's favour. The case is still pending.
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