Colebrook Bosson Saunders (CBS) invented the concept of ergonomics in the workplace and introduced the first monitor arm almost three decades ago. They have led the market and continued to innovate ever since. Here we talk to Martyn Colebrook, founder of CBS about the company.
August 1st, 2011
Martyn Colebrook (left)
CBS was responsible for inventing the first monitor arm in the 1980s. How do you keep moving the sector forward today, and how has your work evolved as the sector has?
Peter Bosson designed the first monitor arm for Olivetti. Computers were replacing typewriters and with the associated CPUs and printers there was no space for the technology on the work surface.
Computer screens, which were simple boxes at the time, were too low and created the muscular skeletal problems which we are all more familiar with today. European legislation, in the form of the Health and Safety at Work Act for VDU users, introduced in 1992 highlighted the issues and helped the CBS mission to provide a healthy, safe and more productive working environment.
With the evolution of CRT monitors to more efficient and space saving flat screen monitors, CBS were the first again to develop a proper screen support. Many of the monitor arms available today are a derivation of the CBS ’wishbone’ arm.
Laptops are playing a large part in the way we work today. What was originally intended as a mobile work tool has become de facto in many workplaces.
Unfortunately many still do not understand the importance of ergonomics. More physical disorders are caused by laptops than regular monitors simply because they are too low, hence the need for laptop supports. Looking to the future, touch screens/tablets will prevail.
CBS’ latest product ’Flo’ was designed to support regular monitors and touch screens. The arm allows the screen to be lowered to the desktop for easier operation. We are now looking at projection technology which may be the next step beyond touch screens/tablets.
Technology evolves at an ever-increasing pace. How do you keep track of it and ensure you are designing and manufacturing products that assist users with technology?
We stay abreast of technology in 2 ways. Firstly we spend a lot of time researching and trying to understand the changes that are coming along the technology horizon. We look at new technology and how it will influence the way people work. We then try to understand how that affects our products. Not every piece of technology you see changes the convention of how people work, sometimes it just makes it easier!
The current trend is for users to interact more with their technology (think touchscreens, iPad, etc.) so we have looked to create products that provide the stability they need but are flexible enough that they feel almost unconstrained using them.
Our 2nd approach is to work with our clients and end users and understand the challenges they are facing. This doesn’t always require us to be at the cutting edge of technology but quite often involves using technology in different ways. We pride ourselves on developing solutions: products which can be used in many different ways to allow a client to achieve the way they want to work. With this approach we see trends in the way technology is configured in workplaces and may notice emerging needs for new product solutions.
What has been your most rewarding achievement to date?
When we started out our goals were very simple and yet grew in ambition and scale over a period of time. I believe that CBS has been about more than designing and selling products. We have a different approach to business and pride ourselves on the fact that over 21 years we have made many good friends as well as business acquaintances.
We like to think we are a nice company to do business with and treat individuals with respect and courtesy. For me, helping to create a global brand that is respected for the quality of its output yet achieves this in a happy, caring, environment has been hugely rewarding.
What is next for CBS?
CBS has a huge opportunity as the world continues to be driven by new technologies. We will continue to consolidate in our existing territories and markets, while not taking our eyes from the developments that will shape the way we operate in the working environment.
It’s a really exciting time for us in terms of product development for new sectors too. Our design team has been working on a number of new products that will lead us into new markets, a target we have had for some time.
Our global operation is growing, and now that we have a better understanding of these local market requirements it can only strengthen the CBS brand and enable us to serve the world better as a whole.
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