Sustainable design using lean engineering

Sustainable design using lean engineering

Doing more with less is part of their DNA at Dyson. As engineers, they look for problems to solve. They are relentlessly dissatisfied and instinctively want to improve things, to make them more efficient and use fewer resources.

They call it “lean engineering” and it’s one of their core philosophies. It enables them to use science, engineering and behaviour change to reduce their impact and that of their products. It is only by improving their technology and using resources more effectively that they can do more with less, and make increasingly efficient products.

Invention and innovation require leaps of faith and the desire to try new approaches: such as using cyclones rather than wasteful, one-off bags; or high-speed ‘air knives’ rather than energy-hungry heaters.

Examples of this are evident in every machine: faster, more efficient motors that use less energy; cleaner, safer, more energy-dense batteries; quicker, more efficient product design; thinner and stronger plastics; or longer-lasting technologies like LEDs.

Whether it's through their pioneering technology, their physical workspaces, or their philanthropic activities and education, it's essential that sustainability remains at the heart of their approach.

Energy efficient hand drying technology
When designing products Dyson use a process called Finite Element Analysis to predict how each new prototype will react to real-world forces, such as vibration and heat. This enables them to make small, iterative changes, like trimming the thickness of parts, without sacrificing durability or performance.

For example, the Dyson 9kJ hand dryer is engineered to last, having been exposed to real-world environments to ensure it can withstand the pressures of high usage in washrooms; drying hands quickly, yet using just 9.1 kilojoules of energy per dry.

Dyson’s hand dryers have up to 85% lower CO₂ impact than paper towels1 and use one tenth the electricity of conventional warm air hand dryers, supported by Life Cycle Assessments from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carbon Trust.

They help save billions of disposable, non-recyclable paper towels going to landfill every year worldwide. They’re also certified by the Carbon Trust, helping to create a better environment in washrooms and the world outside.

Creating the right light
LEDs are long lasting and highly efficient compared to conventional bulbs. Yet some manufacturers still aren’t designing their lights to maximise the potential of this technology.

If used incorrectly, LEDs can quickly overheat, reducing their lifespan and degrading both brightness and colour. Dyson identified this inefficiency and tackled it using Dyson’s Heat Pipe cooling technology.

A vacuum-sealed copper tube draws heat away from the LEDs to provide a non-stop, energy-free cooling cycle, maintaining light quality for up to 60 years.

The battle for clean air
Dyson is also focused globally on researching the problems posed by air pollution. In their laboratories they look at the sources of pollution both inside and out, from pollen, dust and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to nitrogen dioxide and other gases such as benzene.

As the air indoors can be up to five times worse than outdoor air2, their aim is to engineer the best methods of detecting, capturing and removing these pollutants from indoor spaces. Creating a more comfortable environment for commercial spaces with cleaner HEPA-purified air.

Intelligent design
Choosing the sustainable option shouldn’t mean accepting compromise. Rather, it requires a product to be designed intelligently, and built to last.

Materials aren’t static, they change over time and under different conditions. That’s why all of Dyson’s products are rigorously tested, 24 hours a day, to the point of failure. It is only by testing until failure that they can understand their technology’s limits and create robust machines with longer lifespans.

It’s important to examine each stage of a product’s life – from extracting and processing the raw materials, through to final disposal of the product – if they are to identify the impacts and inefficiencies in existing designs, and thereby reduce them.

By focusing on using less energy and fewer resources in the production and manufacturing phase, they can reduce the environmental impact throughout the entire lifecycle.

Find out more here:

Contact us at or call us at 0800 345 7788

2.Hulin et al, Respiratory health and indoor air pollutants based on quantitative exposure assessments, European Respiratory Journal, Oct. 2012.

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Dyson is a technology company that solves problems others ignore. Whether it’s offices, manufacturing, schools, airports or hospitality settings, their mission is clear: solve these problems with new thinking and design products that simply work...
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