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Versatility Tool Works & Manufacturing Company
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Customer Engagement Process Brings Multiple Benefits to Product Improvement
Versatility Tool Works and Manufacturing redesigned the entire interior of AND's IP Clock, using its QStepTM Process to develop a new chassis system that eliminates surface marking.
Originally, copper studs were welded directly to the chassis (above), producing surface marks on the on the front face of the clock. With the new design, studs are mounted to the chassis, which is then mounted to the stainless steel housing (below). The company can achieve this in one operation on its Amada C1 Punch/Laser Combination Machine.
Photo courtesy of Advanced Network Devices and Versatility Tool Works and Manufacturing Company, Inc.
Versatility's QStepTM Process Helps Customers Improve Sound Quality, Performance, and Aesthetics
ALSIP, Ill.--Advanced Network Devices (AND) is a well-established name in video and audio technology that designs and sells sophisticated multi-media products, including network clocks and speakers used in all sorts of applications. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital Design Corporation (DDC), AND (www.anetd.com) was an early provider of Power over Ethernet (PoE) intelligent devices, and has been producing IP (Internet Protocol) speakers since 2004.
"Our focus has been the IP Speaker markets, which consists of intercom, paging, music, and voice playback, and devices that are all networkable," says Sean Lantz, product line lead engineer at Advanced Network Devices, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. "Several of the products include LED displays, and all devices are equipped with speakers."
One of AND's products, the IP Clock, is designed to be an IP endpoint with multiple features and options: IT administrators can post alerts, combine audio and text messages together, and provide streaming news and other feeds. The IP Clock doesn't require any additional wiring, and runs on standard CAT5 cabling.
But AND began experiencing problems with the IP Clock--including product damage, surface marking, and slow delivery--that drove up product cost and prompted the company to look for a new supplier.
"We were having technical challenges with the IP Clock," said Lantz. "In particular, we were experiencing turret marks on the facing of the product."
A solution to the problem began to take root at the 2011 Greater Chicago Design-2-Part Show, held last May at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. That's where AND's Sean Lantz met Ed Freimuth, president of Alsip, Illinois-based Versatility Tool Works and Manufacturing Inc. (VTW), and other VTW team members. "I was impressed with the enthusiasm and friendliness of the staff, and the amount of time that VTW spent to understand our needs," said Lantz.
"AND's previous manufacturer was delivering a product that was being damaged in shipping and was delivering with sporadic schedule performance, which forced AND to seek out an alternative manufacturer," said Freimuth.
QStepTM Process Helps Define Client's Needs and Provide Solutions
After connecting with Freimuth at the D2P Show, Lantz followed up with an on-site visit to the VTW facility and was immediately impressed with not only the facility, but also the staff's attention to production details. "I was impressed by the attention to detail by the staff to ensure that our product was produced both efficiently and to the highest standards possible," he said.
"They were looking for a supplier that was able to work with them and improve their clock line," said Freimuth. "They have an impressive line of equipment, and we felt we could improve their product. The first thing we noticed was that the previous manufacturing process was causing a lot of aesthetics issues; you could see the welding through the face of the clock. Also, the finished goods were getting damaged in shipping--the legs were breaking off in shipping due to the welding process used, and due to insufficient packaging.
"It was a big problem," Freimuth continued. "The end user would get the product and it would, on occasion, fall apart when the box was opened, or otherwise be disheveled. So we used our QStepTM Process and redesigned the entire interior of the product and came up with a chassis system that mounts all the components without putting any marks on the front face of the clock. It added some manufacturing steps, but allowed us to decrease the thickness of the clock's housing skin, which, in turn, offset any additional cost to their product. They were very happy because we made these major improvements while maintaining a competitive cost."
To further assist in meeting some production deadlines, VTW set up a production line in its facility and provided assistance in the final assembly to ensure that AND met its clients' deadlines. "VTW improved the piece cost and met all the deadlines," Lantz confirmed, adding that VTW often exceeds AND's production deadlines and delivery dates.
Lantz said that Versatility Tool Works (www.versatilitytool.com) not only meets AND's production needs, but is proactive in helping to identify ways to improve their product. "VTW improved the device's sound quality by improving the location of the microphone," he stated. "They helped with improving the design, and helped us integrate a special knockout that the customers were requesting."
Freimuth added that that VTW was able to improve the sound quality by making the speakers more rigid, which reduced vibration and produces a clearer sound. "We created a separate chassis for the speakers, circuit boards, and LED display boards, separating the components from the case," he said.
"They backed up their efforts with engineering knowledge and expertise," Lantz concluded. "QStepTM was a key element in providing a quick turnaround of our product ideas, as well as cementing them into production-quality goods efficiently."
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