payment supplier code

Supplier Payment Code

Australian Supplier Payment Code

As a small business, Cobalt has always seen the importance in paying suppliers on time. It’s not only fair, but also drives productivity and keeps business relationships strong. For many years we have operated by these beliefs, and therefore it was easy to become proud foundation members of the Australian Supplier Payment Code (ASPC). We are proud to be named alongside other big signatories such as Commonwealth Bank, Aldi, Australia Post and the Victorian Government. View all the signatories here.

To keep our projects running smoothly, Cobalt relies on products and services from a multitude of small businesses. These suppliers help us reliably deliver high performance design services to our local and international clients. Having ourselves started from humble beginnings almost 25 years ago, we understand that managing cash flow and getting paid on time are the top priorities for small business owners.

By putting our name to the Australia Supplier Payment Code, we’re committing to transparent and fair payment practices. The code is a voluntary, industry-led initiative launched by the Business Council of Australia that protects the importance of prompt and on-time payment for suppliers through a set of best practice standards.

As a ASPC signatory, Cobalt commits to a number of payment policies;

  • Paying correct invoices from suppliers on time or within 30 days.
  • Providing clear guidance to suppliers about our payment procedures.
  • Where practicable and agreed, appling technologies to speed up invoice reconciliation, approval and payment processes.
  • Putting in place clear, fair and efficient processes for dealing with complaints and disputes about payments.

The code has been in effect for over two years and continues to grow with over 110 signatories. And we hope this initiative is replicated by our own clients payment practices. And to help remind them, Cobalt invoices will now feature the ASPC logo.

Read more about the ASPC and eligibility here.

View our other policies, including our confidentiality and privacy policies here.

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Green and Clean

Cobalt Goes Green and Clean in 2019

2019 brought along a myriad of upgrades within Cobalt; enabling us to better respond to our clients, increase work efficiency and freshen up our studio’s design. From solar panels to new software, we head into into 2020 full tuned.

Our upgrades began earlier in the year with a major eco overhaul. Sparked by our belief that design should be socially responsible, we had long wanted our building to have as small an environmental footprint as possible. Our North Melbourne office now proudly sports a 12kw, 39 panel array of solar panels, an ultra-efficient HVAC system, extensive sealing and insulation works and new LED lighting throughout the building.  These works have already effectively reduced our daily energy consumption by up to 45%, and we are on track to exceed our original target of being 50% self-sufficient in power. This was all made possible by our collaborations with Sustainable Australia Fund and GenesisNow, who enabled us to rise above the previous hurdles we had faced with our building’s location and infrastructure.

Apart from lower environmental impact and power bills, the result of our eco upgrade is greater comfort, better lighting with the consensus from our team being overwhelmingly positive.

Once our major energy efficiency upgrade had been completed, it was time for the front-of-house to receive its overdue refresh. Our reception area had been an interim measure for far too long – project work always taking precedence. Additionally, the need to accommodate more staff in 2019 was what ultimately compelled us to upgrade the front end of our office.

The vision was simple – keep it clean, modern and undeniably Cobalt. After a rapid three week facelift, the space was transformed from simply serviceable to inspiring. Each element was carefully considered to ensure visual harmony, continuity and a seamless transition from old to new. Driven by our team members Mark, Len and Nathan, the biggest change was the relocation and re-design of the main reception desk. The ‘hello desk’ now corners off a new hub, housing the admin and marketing team together for boosted efficiency.  The smarter use of the space also enables us to accommodate 2-3 more staff, with better storage and access across the office.

But perhaps the most striking element of the renovation is the new feature wall created by Len. Covered in a 3.2m wide custom perforated metal panel, a bold first impression is created as visitors ascend the staircase from our lower level. Built into the wall is a backlit ‘Cobalt’ sign, in which we have the ability to dictate the colour, brightness and speed of the transitions at the touch of a button. Better yet, above is a cut-out of our logo with an LCD monitor behind.  Through the day this gives us the unique ability to display a countless number of visual references and textures that influence our work.

Updating our office in 2019 has been great opportunity to also shuffle the team around into a new layout, ultimately increasing productivity within project teams and prompted our staff to collaborate with new people.

We were blown away with the time and effort our team put into the renovation, with a special mention to Mark (for spending a big portion of his own time on the project), Len (for bringing our vision to life) and Nathan (for coming back to help us out).  

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Boost Your Business 2019 R4

Round 4 Boost Your Business Vouchers Now Open!

Boost Your Business (BYB) is a Victorian program supporting businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve export and profitability. Round 4 is now open.

The BYB initiative targets small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) who are on a growth trajectory and want to implement a project that meet’s the program’s criteria. ‘Vouchers’ or blocks of funding are provided that can be put towards a number of specialised services, including product development.

Cobalt is a Registered Service Provider for the BYB program under the Advanced Manufacturing Voucher Stream. Under this program, eligible projects receive matched funding to cover development activities up to a maximum of $50,000.

This means that if your business is eligible to receive a Voucher from the Victorian Government, you can put that funding towards accessing Cobalt’s 20+ years of industry expertise in product development. Using the funding Cobalt can help commercialise your product with:

  • Product design and engineering
  • Small volume production
  • Product testing, validation, prototyping and verification
  • Conduct research and development activities

In a previous round, Cobalt worked with BMPRO to design their new line of recreational vehicle (RV) power management systems and battery chargers. Securing this incentive provided a considerable boost to the project, allowing BMPRO to fast-track development and capitalise on the opportunity to expand  into the US market. Read more about the project here.

To showcase this project and BYB, Cobalt’s animation team have created an informational video below.

Applications for Round 4 of BYB close Sunday 22 December 2019. 

Naturally, as with any government program, terms, conditions and criteria apply, which you can read more about on their website here. In summary; if you’re a small business looking for product design excellence, Cobalt can help (along with a boost courtesy of the Victorian Government).

Interested? Then be quick! The fourth round of the voucher offers ends on Sunday the 22nd of Dec 2019. Get started with LaunchPad, or give us a call on (03) 9320 2230 so we can help give you the boost you need.


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reception refresh

Reception Refresh

Cobalt HQ’s Reception Refresh

With Cobalt’s major energy efficiency upgrade recently completed, it was time for the front-of-house to receive an overdue refresh. Our reception area had been an interim measure for far too long – project work always taking precedence. Additionally, the need to accommodate more staff was what ultimately compelled us to upgrade the front end of our office.

The vision was simple – keep it clean, modern and undeniably Cobalt. After a rapid three week facelift, the space was transformed from simply serviceable to inspiring. Each element was carefully considered to ensure visual harmony, continuity and a seamless transition from old to new. Driven by our team members Mark, Len and Nathan, the biggest change was the relocation of the main reception desk. Visitors are now welcomed at a new angled ‘hello desk’, featuring strip lighting, timber accents and a parcel ledge. Our design for the Zgo monitor arms, can also be seen supporting the ‘hello desk’ monitors.

The ‘hello desk’ now corners off a new hub, housing the admin and marketing team together for boosted efficiency.  The smarter use of the space also enables us to accommodate 2-3 more staff, with better storage and access across the office.

Bold new carpet tiles give a huge visual lift to the front third of the office, and a custom feature wall separates work spaces from reception, providing visual security from the waiting area. Outside the kitchen a large blackboard has been incorporated into a wall, allowing staff (and visitors!) to express themselves in multiple shades of chalk.

Created by Len, the new feature wall is the most striking element of the renovation. Covered in a 3.2m wide custom perforated metal panel, a bold first impression is created as visitors ascend the staircase from our lower level. Behind the metal a dark mirror finish peeks through. Built into the wall is a backlit ‘Cobalt’ sign, in which we have the ability to dictate the colour, brightness and speed of the transitions at the touch of a button. Better yet, above is a cut-out of our logo with an LCD monitor behind.  Through the day this gives us the unique ability to display a countless number of visual references and textures that influence our work.

Updating the reception also offered a great opportunity to shuffle the team around into a new layout, which has ultimately increased productivity within project teams and prompted our staff to collaborate with new people.

We were blown away with the time and effort our team put into the renovation, with a special mention to Mark (for spending a big portion of his own time on the project), Len (for bringing our vision to life) and Nathan (for coming back to help us out).  

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boost your business

Boost Your Business 2019

Round 3 Boost Your Business Vouchers Now Open!

Cobalt is pleased to yet again be named as a Registered Service Provider within the Boost Your Business initiative for 2019.

‘Boost Your Business’ is a Victorian Government program supporting Victorian businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve market access and profitability.

The initiative aids small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) that are on a growth trajectory and wish to implement a project that has the potential to deliver long term benefits such as improved productivity, jobs growth and/or increased exports. ‘Vouchers’ or blocks of funding provided can be put towards specialised services from registered providers in the areas of marketing, intellectual property management, research & development, business processing – and most excitingly product development.

This means that if your business is eligible to receive a Voucher from the Victorian Government, you can put that funding towards accessing Cobalt’s 20+ years of industry expertise in product development.

Using the funding you can work towards:

  • Progressing the commercialisation of a product
  • Funding product design activities
  • Small volume production
  • Product testing, validation, prototyping and verification
  • Conduct research and development activities

The program is open to Victorian-based businesses with a registered ABN, and have either 20-200 staff OR an annual turnover greater than $1.5M. The vouchers can range up to $50,000, on a dollar for dollar basis – a considerable boost for a business on the rise.

Naturally, as with any government program, terms, conditions and criteria apply, which you can read more about on their website here. In summary; if you’re a small business looking for product design excellence, Cobalt can help (along with a boost courtesy of the Victorian Government).


Interested? Then be quick! The third round of the voucher offers ends on Sunday the 12th of May 2019. Get started with LaunchPad, or give us a call on (03) 9320 2230 so we can help give you the boost you need.

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Cobalt: By The Numbers

Cobalt: By The Numbers

Since founding Cobalt, we’ve worked on a huge number and variety of amazing design projects.

So along the way we’ve also amassed a heap of metrics which, in their own way, give an insight into the design process and our approach to product development.

At Cobalt believe that knowledge is vital for excellence and evaluation is critical to improvement. The backbone and central-nervous system of Cobalt’s project and company information resides within our custom database system, Lynx. Within Lynx every number, fact and byte of operational information is stored, and each bit of these can be accessed and analysed in moments.

So what started off as a proper analysis a couple of months ago, has been added to by pulling together some of the more quirky statistics we’ve collected over our first 22 years of design practice. So, if you’re into numbers here are many to enjoy! And for the rest, we hope you have a giggle at some of the more amusing facts we’ve pulled out.

Leadership

  • Number of Principals: 3
  • Principal/Director changes since foundation: 0
  • Period that Cobalt’s Principals studied Industrial Design together at RMIT University: 1983 to 1987

Project Experience

  • Projects since 1996: 1200+
  • Years of combined product development experience across all staff: 218
  • Number of individual moulded, tooled or manufactured parts designed by Cobalt that were commissioned for production last calendar year: 294
  • Average number of proposed stages per year: 392
  • Average number of client projects actively operating at any one time: 29
  • Total number of clients since 1996: 476

Records & Recognition

  • Design awards and industry prizes won or awarded: 30+
  • Net Promoter Score (2012 survey): 65
  • Highest production volume design: 8,000,000+ KeepCups
  • Cobalt designed the product which has been in longest continuous production – the Icon (Nylex) 35L Slide Top Bin): 1996

Serious Processes & Facilities

  • Individual timesheet records across all staff last calendar year: 9565
  • Typical ratio of tasks in a full new product development (NPD) project:
    • Design and Insights: 26%
    • Engineering and CDP+Alpha prototypes: 46%
    • Resolution: 17%
    • Transfer to Production and Beta prototypes: 7%
    • Marketing Support (Animation): 5%
  • Dollars invested in Cobalt’s prototyping workshop since 2016: $200,000
  • Metres of 3D-Printing filament used inhouse annually: 5000+
  • Hours spent on staff training last calendar year: 2035

Global Focus

  • Proportion of international clients versus Australian clients: 30:70 approx
  • Average number of countries Cobalt crew have lived or travelled in: 12
  • Days Cobalt staff were on site with global suppliers in Asia, 2017: 53

Connected Teamwork

  • Average age of Cobalt’s team members: 34
  • Percent of tertiary educated consulting staff: 100%
  • Languages in addition to English, spoken by Cobalt team members: 6
  • Percent of Cobalt staff who regularly walk, ride or public-transport to work: 63%
  • Total annual meals enjoyed by Cobalt crew at Friday pub lunches: 411
  • Careers supported through internships with Swinburne/other universities: 15

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Cobalt: The Element Behind The Name

Cobalt: the element behind the name

On a recent visit to Canberra, Cobalt took some time off to visit Questacon – Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre. There, among over 200 interactive exhibits, we noticed one in particular: a massive, life sized Periodic Table of Elements. Sitting at the top centre was a glass box showcasing the element that spawned our group’s name – Cobalt.

Cobalt (Co), the 27th element on the periodic table, is found in the earth’s crust usually combined with other mineralsPrimarily, the hardy mineral is usually used in the manufacture of magnetic, high-strength, wear-resistant alloys. Cobalt bonds together with other elements to create alloys used in technology and devices that perform far more strongly than they would using isolated minerals. Interestingly enough, this is similar to the core principles behind Cobalt Design’s integrated team structure – we believe that collaboration and teamwork is what binds everyone at the Cobalt studio together. Individually, we all have our own strengths, but it’s when we come together bound by a project that we can make something that really excels. 

Further comparisons can be drawn between our agency and the mineral from a design sense. Cobalt compounds give off a distinct deep blue colour, the likes of which has been used creatively over generations. Glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes throughout history have used the mineral for decoration and aesthetics. Cobalt isn’t just a part of components that make functional marvels of engineering, it’s a crucial part of what makes them look superb. Just like our agency, cobalt as a mineral integrates itself into the engineering and design world to create products and creations that look as good as they work.

In the modern era, cobalt is the one element that keeps the world turning. It’s in our phones, our laptops, our chargers, our batteries – behind almost every worthwhile invention, Cobalt had a chance to play a pivotal part in making it work and look great. This is exactly the type of approach we here at Cobalt Design take to our projects; relishing the chance to create beautiful, human-centred designs through our collaboration and integrated design teams.

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Cobalt Design Boost Your Business

Boost Your Business

Boost Your Business with Cobalt Design

Cobalt is pleased to announce that we’ve been selected as a Registered Service Provider within the Boost Your Business initiative.

‘Boost Your Business’ is a Victorian Government program supporting Victorian businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve market access and profitability.

The initiative provides Victorian small to medium sized businesses with  ‘vouchers’ or blocks of funding which can be put towards specialised services from registered providers in the areas of marketing, intellectual property management, research & development, business processing – and most excitingly product development.

This means that if your business is eligible to receive a Voucher from the Victorian Government, you can put that funding towards accessing Cobalt’s 20+ years of industry expertise in product development.

Using the funding you can work towards:

  • Progressing the commercialisation of a product
  • Funding product design activities
  • Small volume production
  • Product testing, validation, prototyping and verification
  • Conduct research and development activities

The program is open to Victorian-based businesses with a registered ABN, and have either 20-200 staff OR an annual turnover greater than $1.5M. The vouchers can range up to $50,000, on a dollar for dollar basis – a considerable boost for a business on the rise.

Naturally, as with any government program, terms, conditions and criteria apply, which you can read more about on their website here. In summary; if you’re a small business looking for product design excellence, Cobalt can help (along with a boost courtesy of the Victorian Government).


Interested? Then be quick! The second round of voucher offers ends on Friday the 13th of June. Get started with LaunchPad, or give us a call on (03) 9320 2230 so we can help give you the boost you need.

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Getting Your Hands Dirty: The Practical Side of Design

Getting Your Hands Dirty – The Practical Side of Design

Getting Your Hands Dirty – the Practical Side of Design

The world of design has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Once, design studios were filled with drafting tables and cork pin boards. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find Cintiq tablet monitors atop open plan desks, manned by smaller, more integrated teams. And instead of today’s precisely-accurate prototypes – 3D printed in hours, it previously took weeks to hand make models and in comparison these were a poor facsimile of the final design. As times change, so too do the ways we design and create – but has the practical, hands-on element of design been lost to time?

Robert Pataki, Melbourne-born designer of the world’s first PowerBoard says there’s not enough emphasis on “getting your hands dirty,” in the design world. Over the years, funding cuts to university workshops and an influx of design students has changed the way designers have learned to operate – putting more emphasis on the virtual elements of a product rather than being grounded on its physical constraints, materials or production processes. Kate Bisset-Johnson, senior lecturer in Industrial Design at Swinburne adds to this, claiming that students have become “seduced” by Computer Aided Design (CAD), which can trick you into believing the ultimate product will work, because CAD looks so finished and complete.

Take, for instance, touchscreens in modern cars. In theory, they’re aesthetically clean, technically advanced and allow you to precisely control all of your car’s functions from one point.

However, in practice these systems require direct attention and multiple inputs to perform any task. For example, in older cars selecting heating or music was as clear and simple as turning a knob or pressing a single button – a far cry from navigating through today’s multi-level menu options to turn the fan up or down.

While you’re driving a car, this is counter-intuitive, not to mention potentially deadly. Obviously, the designers of these early touchscreens were more enamoured with the technology than truly improving the user experience.

At Cobalt, we know the practical, and not the theoretical or digital, has to be at the core of every design. Safety, simplicity, and ease-of-use are paramount to the user experience. You could spend days and days of looking at a design through a computer screen – and while it may look fantastic, that doesn’t mean it’s going to perform well – if at all.

According to Warwick Brown, one of Cobalt’s Principals, “the importance of the three Ps (physical, practical and production) within the design process is paramount. Good theories have to work in tandem with tangible evidence, and we’ve spent over twenty years balancing these two over every project.” Both Cobalt’s designers and our engineers are in our prototyping workshop as often as each other, creating an integrated team which produce great product outcomes. Simply put – we know how to get our hands dirty and make products that work as good as they look.

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LaunchPad

LaunchPad: Your idea starts here

Here at Cobalt, we have over 20 years of experience undertaking projects of all kinds. We’ve created exciting products in the fields of sports, consumer goods, research & development and even automotive design. We don’t just know how to make good stuff, we know how to run successful projects- and it all starts with the initial brief.

We’re excited to finally announce our latest project: Launchpad. Launchpad is an interactive questionnaire for potential clients (like you), to tell us all about your idea in an organised, targeted way. Are you an individual or an organisation? Is your product an improvement on an existing item or a new idea? Are you planning to manufacture and sell the product yourself, or licence it to an established company?

Launchpad not only saves you time and energy in pitching your idea, it’s designed to give us exactly the information we need to know precisely how we can best help bring your project to life. The information you provide helps us to form the backbone of a creative brief, and lets us know what tasks are necessary for the project. We get an idea of the grand scheme of your project; where your idea is at right now, and how you see it coming to life – or rather, how we can help you bring it to life.

If you’re on the fence thinking “it can’t really be THAT simple,” try it out for yourself. Simply follow the on-screen prompts to tell us all about your big idea, and we’ll show you just how we can make your vision a reality.

(Consulting Cobalt about your idea will not compromise any future IP applications. You can safely discuss your idea under the protection of our Confidentiality Policy).

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