Cost-Effective Solutions to a High-Tech Problem

One of the strengths with Production Materials is our ability to find ways of doing specialized jobs cost-effectively; ones that other component suppliers might sense as too costly to present their clients. Case in point: a prominent company involved in the grooming industry approached us about five weeks ago, and presented us with a complex problem they were facing. A new robotic tool they’d been using to pick up individual parts (eventually assembling them into a finished product) had difficulty in completing its assigned tasks.

One of the robot’s main jobs is finding a required part from a feeder bowl, taking it in its grasp, and then placing it into the proper hole per specification. Once the robot locates the hole, it then screws the component into the mating part. The robot was having trouble locating a particular screw because the screw point was too wide in diameter to fit into the hole in question. We needed to find a way to make the point smaller without compromising the other dimensions or adding a costly secondary operation.

It seemed at first like a difficult task ahead of us. The obstacles were many. But by collaborating with our supplier partner, and strategizing some innovative approaches using various software tools, we were able to come up with a new screw design at no additional cost.

We’re still working with our client, but the feedback thus far has been immensely positive. The trial run – some 25,000 pieces and counting – continues to run great. We look forward to completing the task and getting the job done right. All’s well that ends well, and so far, so good.

Production Materials: We're like a detective agency that thrives on difficult assignments.

People who’ve done business with us oftentimes call us a “resourceful” company; it’s become kind of a word that gets thrown our way. “Resourceful.” Hey, sounds good to us, we’ll take it, thank you for the nice word; but really all we’re trying to do here is just be really good problem-solvers for our customers. We try to look at our customers’ needs and find very specific means of resolving them. We work hard to turn that specific need into the button-down details we think our client will appreciate. Call our methods resourceful, call our services unique, and tell us that we think “outside the box.” When it comes to finding creative sourcing, all we can say to that is we’re just doing what we do best.    

For example, a well-heeled manufacturer of consumer products (who shall remain anonymous) approached us about constructing them a new gauge. OK, so we sat down and met with them and they presented us with a fairly rough sketch of what they needed – how many psi they wanted, the approximate size of the gauge, a good general sense of all the components they wanted attached, etc. Nothing completely specific, but something we were excited to tackle.

Taking up the good fight, we went back to our shop and drew out a detailed blueprint of what we felt they wanted. So much of the initial process on our end is intuitive. Well, so we handed it back to them and – lo and behold – it was exactly what they’d been looking for. Good stuff. Time to get cranking.

It didn’t take too long for us to work up a quote and find the right suppliers (yes, we have our secret sources). Then it took about 3 weeks’ time for us to assemble the in-house prototypes and have our engineer to seal the threads of the gauge to comply with test standards. When we presented it to the client, they ran the gauge through every test they could think of, and our gauge passed with flying colors. Next thing we know, our big-league client is giving us an order to custom build 250 of these gauges, and we’ve been getting repeat orders from them ever since.

I guess you could say the moral of this story is that we’re a company that relishes opportunities to use brainpower before it gets working hard with its hands. I guess that’s being “resourceful.” Our clients seem to think so. Thank you, clients.

Anyway, got to get back to work.