‘Impact’ could be viewed as a somewhat unusual topic for an opinion piece. After all, impact is something which is often touted – but in reality it’s quite hard to pin down and accurately measure.
As chairman of the Furniture Industry Research Association, my role is a voluntary one – and the same goes for my peers on the council. We give up our time as we want to ensure the research association makes an impact through the work it’s doing – giving back to the membership who fund the work, and in turn supporting the wider furniture supply chain. It’s therefore vital that we understand the impact our decisions make.
One way I like to assess how much of an impact the Furniture Industry Research Association makes is through first-hand anecdotal evidence.
Did you know, for example, that the research association spends approximately £100,000 per annum attending standards committee meetings? Members frequently tell me how valuable this is in supporting with informed business decisions through the valuable insights published via fira.co.uk.
Here, we’re having a direct impact – giving outlooks on the direction proposed or current standards may take, or through opening up opportunities to comment on consultations and shape outcomes.
The research association also aims to make an impact through its membership projects, which are all funded via membership subscriptions. Current membership projects include writing a bariatric bed standard in response to issues being caused by the increasing weight of the population (this follows on from the bariatric chair standard we released last year).
We also have an ergonomic project under way regarding kitchen design. Work continues on a new remanufacturing standard for furniture as part of wider work on the circular economy. And shortly there will be guidance issued around compliance with the General Product Safety Directive. All these projects were chosen as we could see the potential impact they will make.
Further projects due to get under way over the coming months include the implications of regulations on electrically-actuated furniture for the commercial market (following on from similar work in the domestic market), supporting members with flammability compliance by understanding what tests are relevant to different types of materials and products, and we’re looking at how embracing the latest technology and trends could improve UK furniture productivity.
All these projects are in their infancy, but we’re excited to see what direction they take and the impact they make. If there is a project which you think could make an impact, then please do email your ideas to email@example.com.
Charles Vernon is the chairman of the Furniture Industry Research Association, a recognised centre of technical excellence which provides knowledge-based, technical support to the global furniture supply chain.