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Bluelink Live

Rigged using industry standard shackles, such as the Crosby G2130, the Bluelink has been designed to minimise headroom; it measures only 6 inches or 156mm from eye to eye.

As Straightpoint’s (SP) latest innovation hits the market, Mr. Loadlink relives the Bluelink journey—and looks forward to going live.

I was sipping coffee with U.S.-based colleagues Wayne Wille and Aaron Orsak when Bluelink was first discussed. It must’ve been strong coffee; we spoke for a while. We didn’t know we were taking about it at the time though, nor was it clear if a product at all—new or old—could embody the matters we were chewing over.

Many new products start that way. In my experience, working in industrial markets in particular, it’s rarely a case of envisaging the shape, size, look, and feel of a product, and setting a course to it, but more identifying a gap, challenge, limitation, trend, or nuance and mapping a pathway from it.

How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from?

Wayne, Aaron, and I weren’t talking about a load cell that introduces Bluetooth technology. We were wondering when existing and prospective customers still utilising outdated mechanical force measurement products might gravitate towards more high-tech solutions, if at all. The same scenario has played out among colleagues and business partners the world over; the individuals, the product, and the marketplace don’t really matter. The synergy is that there’s habitual behaviour to note that could possibly create a business opportunity.

But we were, and remain, an innovative pioneer in force measurement technology; we’re known for smashing through walls and delivering state-of-the-art solutions. One doesn’t have to be that way to be successful, but it’s how we roll. How then could we tap into a demographic that is gatekeeping tradition? Surely that’s for companies more aligned with their place on the curve. Bentley and Skoda both sell cars, but Bentley don’t covet Skoda’s mailing list.

There’s an app for that

Maybe the three of us gazed out the window at one point resigned to that fact. Still the accompanying biscuits stuck in the throat though. This isn’t the automotive business; we’re nowhere near its cycle of evolution. Think about it: 95% of lifts remain unmonitored. Our conversation arrived at a point, therefore, where it became clear to all of us that we needed to create a product with all the SP hallmarks, but that tapped into the curiosity of less progressive minds. Our target audience here wasn’t indomitable, we surmised. There are inherent advantages, after all, of reading data on a smartphone. More than 5% of people have smartphones and most of them love apps.

We are increasingly engaging with the world through apps, which is a culture that lends itself to Bluelink’s uptake

We’d come a long way over a couple of cups of coffee, yet we were 18 months away from launching the eventual single capacity Bluelink—a 6.5t (14,300 lb.) capacity load cell. As we brainstormed in the days and weeks that followed that landmark conversation, it became even clearer that we needed to stick to our principles but hone the product to a more conventional mindset. I’m sorry if that appears oxymoronic. It’s not, really. We’re wireless innovators and we wanted to roll another wireless innovation off the production line.

The next step was a big one and it’s a leap that some companies forget to take. Sure, Wayne, Aaron, and I know our way around the marketplace but we had to put the concept to distributors and end users to get a sense of its viability. Companies avoid this important phase, typically for two reasons. Firstly, they don’t trust the market’s opinion. In other words, they think they know better. It’s an arrogant stance to take and it’s seen some get caught out. Ok, Henry Ford said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” but generally a marketplace is a great sounding board. Knowledge is power when deciding on performance and price point.

Secondly, people don’t like to hear bad news. And, true enough, some products have fallen and died at the first hurdle. If someone is particularly proud or sentimentally attached to an idea they might be inclined to take it as far as they can without exposing it to criticism. They only see green lights. That’s tempting but naive. The earlier an idea is scrutinised, the sooner one can measure its viability. Often the negativity isn’t about the concept in its entirety but more elements or components within it, so it should be embraced. For example, “It’s a great idea, but could you extend it to this?”

Amber gambler

Did you know that, at least here in the UK, an amber light means vehicles should stop unless it is unsafe to do so? It’s widely misinterpreted, sometimes even as, “Quick, speed up, it’ll turn red in a second.” This is relevant to product development.

If in doubt, stop and check all bases are covered before moving on.

I like to maintain an amber light mentality as we advance through product development. We can still travel with intensity and vigour, yet we don’t move on until it is right to do so. One never wants to get too far too quickly. The mindset adopted during testing should be consistent throughout, as all departments become involved: battery, waterproofing, range, strength, and so on, all has to be recorded, documented, calculated, verified, and tested again.

Eventually, everyone who’s anyone at a company becomes involved, from operations to marketing. Where three of us once sat around a table drinking coffee, now 20 of us are in a boardroom, flanked by whiteboards, buried beneath prototypes, paperwork, and marketing concepts. To help keep a project of such magnitude on track, we use an online tool called, which I would recommend. It is essentially a team management solution to connect people to workplace processes. It was founded on the belief that transparency and collaboration create a culture of ownership and empowerment. I buy into that concept.

When a purchaser is out looking for M4 screws, the sales team are in meetings with distributors, the engineers are waiting for feedback from a testing verification body, and marketing are finalising a launch campaign, it’s good to know who’s accountable for what and when delivery is due. leaves nothing to interpretation. If Elsie is a day early on this, Abdul is a day late on that, or Gabriella needs more time on the other, everyone knows about it. It’s fun to have an end (launch) date in the system to aim for too.

The reaction to Bluelink’s launch proves the value in our methods. Wayne, Aaron, and I will raise a cup of coffee (or something stronger!) to its success one day soon.

LinkedIn live

Such launches will increasingly feature live video. Business networking platform, LinkedIn, recently confirmed that it is currently piloting live video streaming, as the feature continues to be popular on Instagram and Facebook, for example. It represents natural progression for some LinkedIn users, like me and other SP staff, who already record videos and post them to the site. Eventually, we’ll be able to go live as a trade show opens or to unveil a new innovation—like Bluelink.

LinkedIn is going liveand so should you.

It’ll take some strategising to get it right. It helps if an audience knows someone is going to be there. If a launch date on says June 6, work backwards and plug in some social media content and other live videos teasing the launch, advising people to tune in at 3pm when they won’t want to miss the grand unveiling. Of course, it’s important not to give the game away and don’t overstate it. What could live up to expectations if a company has been talking about, “The game-changing, earth-shattering, product of a lifetime, that you won’t be able to live without”? Not even Bluelink! Instead, hint at the problems it solves or the applications where it might be applied.

It’s that time of year

I travel to the states soon where the Associated Wire Rope Fabricators (AWRF) Product & Information Exhibition (PIE) takes place on Monday 8 April. The expo is co-located with the association’s general meeting that runs 7-10 April at Hilton Cleveland Downtown. It’s always one of the most enjoyable and productive events in the calendar and there’ll be greater significance to our stand (booth) next to new owners, The Crosby Group, this year. Given timing and logistics etc., the first official SP-Crosby co-exhibit will also be seen that week, at the Bauma show in Munich, Germany (8-14 April), where David Mullard will represent us.

On the subject of Crosby, it was an honour to host their CEO, Bob Davies, here at SP HQ earlier this week. M&S (Marks and Spencer) sandwiches and Yorkshire Tea were consumed as we discussed many an interesting subject about business and the lifting industry.

I want to close by wishing SP’s Lauren Rose, who will be leaving us shortly for pastures new, all the very best for the future. It’s always a pleasure to be able to influence anyone’s personal or professional journey. She’ll always be part of the SP family and I look forward to hearing about her future successes.

Travel safely if you’re off to trade shows. Thank you for reading.

Mr. Loadlink

It was good to spend time with Bob Davies, CEO, The Crosby Group, at SP HQ this week.

Going Round in Circles…

Standing in for Mr. Loadlink, David Mullard, business development manager at Straightpoint, talks tactics.

The Mr Loadlink briefcase

I knew the look. He approached me like this once before back in the UK spring of 2016.

Straightpoint (SP) director David Ayling, aka Mr. Loadlink, hugged the wall of the corridor as though to stay out of view. It didn’t work. By the time he arrived at my desk, small briefcase under arm, I knew what he was going to ask.


“I’d be honoured,” I interrupted.

Mr. Loadlink looked perplexed that before he’d even asked if I’d be happy to pen another guest blog, I’d gleefully accepted the invitation. Truth is, since he asked the first time, I’ve kept a mental note while on my travels to make sure I’m always prepared to share my experiences should the need arise—even as I descend upon the Liverpool Exhibition Centre for this year’s Speedy Expo.

With Mr. Loadlink called away, here goes in the shape of three tips for successful business development.

1. Become the lord of the rings

Don’t worry; this isn’t a trip to Middle-earth. Far from it. But it is my lead point in something of a trilogy.

In the here and now, it’s important to place oneself in as many relevant communities as possible. I call them circles. They can be of all different sizes, some overlap, and the number of circles in an individual’s career should be ever increasing, within reason. A circle can capture an end user marketplace, an area of technology, a geographical region, a group of professionals, or something else.

Everyone’s circle map will look different.

Everyone’s circle map will look different.

I work at a company that manufactures a diverse product that can be used underground, offshore, at height, on the highway, and on the airfield. And that’s just a small sample. It means my map of circles is vast in number. Some are small. Someone else’s might look more like the Olympic rings, while another person may have only two or three circles to work within. It doesn’t matter; what’s really important is that they’re clearly defined (a circle is a simple closed shape) and they’re entered with authenticity and a long-term commitment.

I’ve recently been spending time in my offshore wind energy and marine circles, for example. Both are important marketplaces for SP equipment. Activity surrounding the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)—it organises a regular programme of meetings and events all over the world—forms an important circle to me. One could argue it’s part of the larger marine ring, but I don’t want to overcomplicate the theory. Each of these events might address a different audience and work to varied objectives.

Mullard the mariner

Recently, I was invited to speak to an IMCA delegation about using load cells in marine applications. Delivering such presentations is a great way to raise a profile within a circle and build a reputation as a thought leader. It’s about being a marine force measurement expert here, not just a load cell guy. This isn’t an article about presenting but it’s worth stressing the importance of not abusing such opportunities by making sales pitches. One could be evicted from a ring (over the top rope) pretty quickly if they don’t adhere to the codes and practices at play.

It’s important to immerse oneself in different business communities

It’s important to immerse oneself in different business communities

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) technical committees presently form another key circle for me. Readers of this article outside of the lifting industry will no doubt have similar trade associations and working groups relevant to their sectors. It’s hugely rewarding to contribute to such work and, again, providing these activities are entered in the right spirit, peers are generally appreciative of everyone’s participation.

Judging when a long game becomes a fool’s errand is down to an individual’s interpretation. All circles should be given a chance (perseverance wins, usually), but if the only action is drinking coffee and talking about football, it might not be worth the air fare. Don’t judge them by direct sales—that’s crude—but look for progress and improvement of an individual, company, or industry. LEEA’s sub-committees have helped to build a substantial library containing 40+ guidance documents covering a wide variety of topics, for instance. As a business we’ll profit in the long term by continued improvement of best practices and elevated standards, which is essentially the association’s ethos—and ours.

2. Be solution centric

In other words, have the answers. Think about what an existing or prospective customer spends a lot of their time doing—seeking ways to solve problems. They might want to be better, faster, safer, or more diverse, and the quest for such advancement will generate questions. They’ll hit obstacles, junctions in the road, and maybe even stumble into quicksand. It’s advisable for any service provider, therefore, to present himself or herself as a problem solver. Ask yourself: what can my company do to make a customer’s life easier?

Become a problem solver.

Become a problem solver.

Whether it’s here at the Speedy Expo, at last week’s Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC), or the upcoming LiftEx, I consider the audience within the circle and try to find out as much information as possible that will help me solve problems. It’s not a lone effort, of course. Everyone at SP has the same mentality; we constantly gather intelligence and feed it back to ensure all of our new products and enhancements are actually solutions. It’s incredibly rewarding to return to a customer and be able to remind them of a previous conversation about an ongoing dilemma, and then pull the solution out of the bag.

Becoming solution centric takes a certain state of mind, however. Regular blogger Mr. Loadlink talks a lot about SP DNA, and I know what he means. We’re active problem solvers because company culture is to be positive; we’re the ‘can-do’ people versus the ‘that’s not really what we do’ folks. Try solving a problem without the right attitude. It’s impossible.

3. Have fun

No circle will become magic or solution emerge if one isn’t having fun in the process. Marc Anthony is credited for saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” and many a successful person has paraphrased the adage since. There’s a lot of truth in it. A marathon runner could never motivate him or herself to train on cold, winter mornings if they didn’t get some pleasure from it or at least experience a great buzz or rush on race days. Crossing the finish line might be the greatest feeling in the world to them, so it’s worth training for.

Look around a trade show (or circle) and it’s obvious who is enjoying the experience versus those who are there because they have to be. Mr. Loadlink has already covered trade show strategy and etiquette extensively so no need for me to duplicate his content, but suffice it to say a smile will get one further than a scowl every day of the week.

  • Do you gravitate towards calmness or confrontation?
  • Enjoyment or depression?
  • Problem or solution?

Take the aforementioned OEEC, which took place in Amsterdam on 22-24 October, as an example. We repeated our “strongest visitor” competition, where we test the physical prowess of an attendee by machining handles onto a Bluetooth-enabled Radiolink plus load cell and inviting them to pull with all their might.

There’s a serious point to the product but this is a fun and interactive way of demonstrating its capability versus hanging it on a rack at the back of the exhibit in front of a big pop-up banner. We thought 44kg was an impressive pull—good enough to take home a bottle of malt whiskey on the first

day—but Sean Zevenbergen, who regularly bench-presses my bodyweight, apparently, ripped over 70kg 24 hours later.

I hope participants at the Speedy show are warming up their muscles!

Thank you for reading.

Dave Mullard
Business Development Manager, Straightpoint

You weren’t missing him, were you? Just in case, here’s a photo of Mr. Loadlink, a man with an impressive circle map of his own, presenting another solution to a customer, and having fun doing it. He’ll be back next month.

You weren’t missing him, were you? Just in case, here’s a photo of Mr. Loadlink, a man with an impressive circle map of his own, presenting another solution to a customer, and having fun doing it. He’ll be back next month.