To be competitive against low cost offshore labor, we here in the U.S. have to do it better. And what does that mean? It means providing a higher quality product at a competitive price. Lean initiatives are critical to achieving that goal.
At this point, everyone’s familiar with what it means to be lean: increase productivity while cutting out waste, all with a constant focus on producing a high quality product. Cutting costs by cutting quality is a surefire way to weaken your business, not strengthen it. The more elusive aspect of being lean is how to do it. The secret to success comes down to one word: culture. Lean is driven from the top down. Every employee is responsible for improving efficiency, and increasing the quality of what they deliver to the company and to customers. Driving home this understanding is imperative to achieving lean success.
When lean becomes a part of a business’ culture, it becomes sustainable. In too many instances, lean amounts to nothing more than the word of the month. But when every employee feels accountable for the success of the company, lean initiatives succeed. And that success is the secret to being competitive in a global marketplace. It doesn’t take offshoring to be competitive. It takes doing better, right here at home.
One of the biggest challenges to innovation is that a lot of people don’t fully understand what it means. In a nutshell, innovation is an improvement in a product or a process that increases the value proposition to the customer. Many people miss that last component. If something doesn’t provide an increased value proposition to the customer, then it doesn’t qualify as an innovation. It can still be an invention, but it’s not an innovation. A value proposition represents a promise, a promise that a product will bring with it some sort of value. And when a consumer buys your product, they’re trusting you to make good on that promise.
At Anomatic, innovation is a concept we understand. To further our innovation efforts, we recently hired a full-time industrial designer. An industrial designer attacks challenges from the point of view of the customer, as well as the manufacturer. You can have the most eye-catching design in the world, but if you can’t manufacture it, it will never be more than a picture on a computer screen. The best examples of successful industrial design in the market today are Apple products. Apple understands and has capitalized on the value of how a product looks. Their products inspire loyalty and even awe amongst their most fervent fans, bringing emotion to the forefront of their value proposition. Coupled with a focus on manufacturability, Apple has crafted products that are appealing to their consumers, and that bring profit to their business.
Our industrial designer allows us to do the same for our OEM clients. We can improve the aesthetic and quality of their product, thus strengthening their value proposition to their customers, and we can do it in a way that keeps manufacturing costs and time to market down, achieving maximum returns on all fronts. We don’t do anything halfway at Anomatic. It’s not enough to provide something visually appealing that drives up production costs, or to cut costs by providing a low quality product. We don’t simply invent at Anomatic, we innovate. We work hard to strengthen our value proposition to you by offering you more ways to increase your value proposition to your customers.
Product life cycles are shortening across the board. As consumers become increasingly fickle, their preferences change faster and faster. A beauty product with an eye catching product design in the fall will need a new design in the spring. For consumers in the candle industry, their tastes change not with the seasons but with the holidays.
These new consumer habits are in sharp contrast to the trends of the past. The days of ordering a year’s supply of anything are over. While the quality of the product inside doesn’t change, packaging design plays an increasingly important role in sales success. An eye-catching design that stopped customers in their tracks one week runs the risk of being blindly passed over the next.
For suppliers, this translates to ever shorter lead times. To be successful means not only providing quality service, but also being able to react quickly to the needs of clients. Turning out product at the speed of light may not be possible, but operating faster than consumers change their preferences is a must.
At Anomatic we’re experts at “rolling with the punches,” adapting to new designs and getting orders to our clients when they need them. Towards that goal, we’ve just opened an Innovation Center at our new facility in the Beauty Park in New Albany, OH. Our engineers can design a product using Solidworks 3D software, and then we can create an accurate model out of plastic (3D printer) or aluminum (4-axis mini-CNC) the same day. We strive to stay ahead of the curve in order to meet quickly changing consumer tastes.
Anodizing serves two main purposes: to protect the base metal from corrosion, and to make the base metal aesthetically pleasing. Most anodizers don’t provide any form of decorating, focusing instead on industrial protective anodizing. But at Anomatic we’ve made aesthetically pleasing anodizing our specialty. Here are some of the highlights of what we offer:
Color Creation – As the imagination of our clients continues to grow and expand, and as they strive to set themselves apart from their competition color plays an ever-increasing role in their product design. Last year we added over 400 custom colors to our portfolio.
An Extensive Color Library – There’s a lot of chemistry involved in creating a color. After we’ve designed one it goes into our library. There’s a very good possibility that the color a client wants has already been proven and developed, which saves them time. We currently have over 1,800 colors in our library.
Accurate Color Matching - Even when a color is settled on, it can be difficult to achieve the same shade time and again. Our unique conveying system allows us to consistently hit the same color across millions of parts, across multiple runs, and across parts that come together in an assembly that need to match. These are all challenging prospects. It’s easy to use artistry to hit a specific color in a lab, but to do it in a production environment over millions of parts requires a great process and quite a bit of science. At Anomatic, our technical team creates a winning combination of art and science that gives our customers what they want, when they want it, with the same quality over millions of pieces.
These color capabilities form the backbone of an extensive array of custom finishing services that includes double anodizing, triple anodizing and more. If you want your product to look good, look no further than Anomatic.
Here at Anomatic we are looking at every possible way to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Automation is key to that. That’s why we attended the Automation Technology Expo at the beginning of May. From vision systems to conveying systems to robotics, we like to keep an eye on the latest automation technology.
The only way to compete with Asian manufacturers is to have truly optimized systems, and at Anomatic we do. All of our assembly operations are automated, and what’s more, for every product we construct a custom automated system. Your product has its own unique challenges, so giving it its own system ensures the most efficient process possible.
Faster turnaround times and lower costs are a benefit to all of Anomatic’s clients, but we see particular benefit for the candle industry. We’ve been talking to candle companies, and they’re just as passionate about domestic manufacturing as we are. The benefit for them is twofold, avoiding issues of quality they face with overseas manufacturers, and also avoiding costly inventory lag.
Candle companies face the requirement of a six month lead time when manufacturing overseas. For an industry where, over the past 20 years, the client base has matured into customers with rapidly changing tastes, this can be crippling. It prevents candle companies from hopping on new trends as quickly as they’d like, and what’s more, it makes life extremely difficult for their distributors. It means when these distributors place orders, they face a long wait for new products. And ordering large quantities up front isn’t an option either. As tastes change, stores can’t take the risk that they’re going to be sitting on a warehouse full of candles no one’s buying. For a smaller distributor, taking a risk like that could be crushing.
At Anomatic we pride ourselves on “Made in the U.S.A.” products that are second to none. We are always striving for the most efficient manufacturing processes possible, so that domestic manufacturing and JIT delivery are affordable options for your business, and so that “Made in the U.S.A” can show boldly on your products.
Over the years here at Anomatic, we’ve developed a bit of a reputation—we’ve become well known for our work in the beauty and cosmetics industry. And that reputation’s not without merit. Over the course of the last 50 years we’ve honed our skills in this arena. We’ve developed high volume aluminum type II anodizing technology that allowed us to put out one billion parts last year. But anodizing isn’t all we do. Part of our development has been vertical expansion to include fabrication, assembly and decoration. So those billion parts we put out were all made completely by us.
The only problem with being good at something, is that people can sometimes forget that you’re good at other things, too. That same technology that we use to make attractive, high-quality aluminum caps for cosmetic products—with a little tweaking—can be used to turn out products with the same quality and the same consistency for other markets. So while we will always cherish our reputation in the beauty and cosmetics industry, we hope that you begin to look to us for candle, hardware, LED, consumer electronics and pharmaceutical products as well. In coming posts, we’ll be highlighting what we can offer those fields and others so that you don’t think of us as your go to source for any one type of product, but just as your go to source—period.