Product Configurator for The Radiator Company

Introduction

The Radiator Company, owned by Italian radiator manufacturer IRSAP, approached Image Foundry with an ambitious project: to develop an advanced radiator configurator. This tool aimed to empower customers to build and customise their own radiators, offering selections for columns, heights, widths, and colours, all visualised in 3D in real-time. The project was designed to create an intuitive and interactive experience that would streamline the process of designing, pricing, and ordering custom radiators online, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Project Scope & Objectives

The scope of the project was comprehensive, focusing on several key objectives:

  • Customer Empowerment: The configurator needed to enable customers to customise radiators from a vast range of options. This level of personalisation was crucial for meeting diverse customer preferences and needs.
  • Real-Time Visualisation: Providing an interactive 3D model that customers can view in real-time was essential. This feature would allow customers to see their chosen configurations in a realistic and engaging manner, either in a room setting against a wall or as a standalone model in 3D space.
  • Seamless Integration: Ensuring that the configurator integrated smoothly with The Radiator Company’s existing web infrastructure was a priority. The tool had to communicate effectively with their website, ensuring a cohesive user experience.
  • Scalability: The configurator had to allow for billions of combinations across various radiator ranges while maintaining performance. This meant designing a system capable of handling extensive data without compromising on speed or reliability.
  • User Experience: Creating an intuitive and engaging user interface was vital. The goal was to make the configurator easy to use, ensuring customers could effortlessly navigate and interact with the tool.

Development Process

Understanding the Product: To develop an accurate and detailed configurator, we first needed a comprehensive understanding of the product. We received numerous radiator parts from The Radiator Company, allowing us to study the assembly and variations in detail. This hands-on experience enabled us to create precise 3D models that closely represented the actual products, ensuring the configurator’s reliability and accuracy.

Model Creation and Optimisation: Using Unity, chosen for its robust real-time 3D capabilities, we created detailed 3D models of radiators. We ensured high fidelity in these models while keeping the file size manageable for optimal online performance. We developed materials using a limited number of textures to maintain efficiency and speed, which was crucial for delivering a seamless user experience.

User Interface and Experience: We designed an intuitive UI that allowed users to easily select and customise their radiator. Real-time 3D visualisation was implemented to enable users to see their customised radiator in various settings. This feature significantly enhanced the user experience, making it more interactive and engaging.

Scalability and Expansion: Initially built for a smaller range of radiators, the configurator has been expanded to include additional ranges due to its successful uptake. We ensured that the addition of new ranges did not compromise the user experience or performance of the application. This scalability was critical for accommodating the growing demands of The Radiator Company’s customer base.

Challenges & Solutions

One of the major challenges was ensuring that the configurator could handle billions of combinations while remaining performant and user-friendly. To address this, we focused on:

  • Optimisation: We kept the number of textures limited to ensure fast loading times. This optimisation was crucial for maintaining the configurator’s performance, especially as the number of available combinations increased.
  • Scalability: We designed the system architecture to easily accommodate additional radiator ranges. This approach ensured that the configurator could grow and adapt to new product lines without compromising performance.
  • User Experience: We continuously tested and refined the user interface to maintain a seamless experience despite the increased complexity. This iterative process involved regular feedback and adjustments to ensure the tool was intuitive and easy to use.

Another challenge was ensuring seamless integration with The Radiator Company’s existing web platform. We worked closely with their web development team, providing detailed documentation and examples for API calls related to column number, height, colour, and other parameters. This close collaboration ensured that the configurator functioned smoothly within their existing system, providing a cohesive and reliable user experience.

Results and Ongoing Work

The radiator configurator has significantly enhanced The Radiator Company’s customer experience. Customers can now visualise their custom radiators in real-time, view them in various settings, and receive instant pricing information. This has not only increased customer satisfaction but also streamlined the ordering process, reducing the workload for customer service representatives. Due to the positive reception and increased demand, we have continued to work with The Radiator Company to add more radiator ranges to the configurator. This ongoing collaboration ensures that the tool remains up-to-date and continues to meet the evolving needs of their customers. The scalability and adaptability of the configurator have made it a valuable asset for The Radiator Company, demonstrating the impact of thoughtful and innovative CGI solutions.

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