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Manufacturing Outlook Feature



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Taking a new product into the market is a complex and challenging process. Regardless of their size, companies face many obstacles during the development cycle. The first and foremost challenge is to bring skilled team together who can work and contribute effectively towards the development of a new product. It is also essential for the organization to have the right technology, capabilities, and infrastructure to support the manufacturing of the new product. If they don’t have the right manufacturing capabilities, delivering a new product within the stipulated time frame can be a major challenge.

Being an efficient manufacturing services partner is where Vollrath Manufacturing Services (VMS), a Division of The Vollrath Company, comes into the picture. From prototype to production, VMS ensures that the entire process of conceptualizing ideas, designing, developing, and eventually introducing a new product into the market is completed to specifications in the most efficient process.

VMS’s partnership with KETOS, a fully integrated water monitoring solution provider, is a perfect example that demonstrates the importance of reliable and open communication. “Real-time actionable intelligence provided through the Internet of Things (loT) is growing every day. KETOS had an ambitious vision that needed to integrate hardware and software into a completely integrated product. They relied on VMS for design support in addition to manufacturing the product into a complete finish product ready to be shipped to customers. For the product and process experts at VMS, it was a perfect fit,” says Jean Horvath, Vice President of Custom and Specialty Products, VMS.

VMS provided KETOS a turnkey manufacturing service to scale production in sync with the domestic and international growth. “Success with a fast-growing startup like KETOS could only occur when a manufacturing partner prioritizes key ingredients: flexibility, accuracy, product quality, and strong communication to operate as an extension of our team,” mentions Meena Sankaran, Founder and CEO of KETOS. VMS accomplished all of these critical functions while marrying together both manufactured and sourced components. VMS then assembled, tested, and shipped a finished device that met the quality standards set by KETOS. 

The success of KETOS is an example of how a 148-year old company like VMS can achieve results with its breadth and depth of experience. “We do this through supporting innovation, foresight, and above all, having the ability to adapt for delivering customer excellence,” explains Jean. The ability of VMS to collaborate with KETOS with a heightened sense of urgency and transparency is a testament to what the organization can achieve.

More Than Just an OEM

Being a domestic industrial OEM solution company specializing in metal manufacturing and fabrication, VMS has the experience, expertise, and capabilities to produce complex, highly engineered products and develop uniquely tailored solutions. The company specializes in a broad range of processes that are offered in house, including deep draw stamping, metal spinning, metal stamping, metal fabrication, precision plastic injection molding, and high-quality acrylics. In addition, VMS has a variety of complimentary in-house capabilities, including annealing and anodizing, along with turnkey solutions such as custom tooling, packaging, and inventory stocking programs. A wide selection of metals are sourced mill direct from domestic and international suppliers by the company’s dedicated sourcing teams. This gives its customers the advantage of purchasing power.

Be it for standard or custom products, VMS offers rapid prototyping enabled by a vast selection of in-stock tool dies, as well as in-house tooling engineers who can modify existing dies or design and build a new tool that meets the unique criteria of each job. “Our engineering lab provides the opportunity to test components for reliability and quality characteristics,” says Jean.

Cohesive Approach to Manufacturing

“Taking a new product into the market can be a complex and challenging process, and we make the process as smooth and efficient as possible,” says Jean. VMS assigns a dedicated project manager for every project to ensure a successful outcome for each client. The project manager ensures reliable and open communication from prototype to production. They also oversee the coordination of all the necessary resources and input to create custom solutions for the customer, often bringing new design ideas or manufacturing options to consider. “Many times, we can leverage technology or products from other parts of our business to create a custom solution,” mentions Jean. “This ensures that we are delivering the product or component that meets the customer’s specifications, timelines, and quality expectations.”

Having a constant overview of the project, the project manager develops the overall timeline, monitors its progress, and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. They also act as the dedicated point of contact for the client, the liaison between the client and the internal VMS team, and coordinate the activities of all the internal resources to ensure that the product launches on time and within the cost target. Despite its significant and proven value, it is a fundamental role often overlooked in the manufacturing industry. 

Finally, all VMS manufacturing facilities are ISO certified (ISO 9001), and its team is knowledgeable about UL, CSA, NSF, ETL, and CE standards. A quality engineer is a part of every project team to ensure quality is front and center throughout  the project. As part of every project review, the component is evaluated through the company’s DFA/DFM gated process to ensure that the product will be manufactured in the most costeffective and efficient way. “We provide our customers with PPAP parts before production to verify that everything is exactly the way they expect it to be,” states Jean.

Investments that Match Market Needs

Being privately held and professionally managed has advantages for our customers. We manage the business for the long-term. We can balance short-term business opportunities with a long-term investment strategy. “We’re not driven by the stock market, so when we see a good opportunity with a customer, we have the flexibility to invest in it. That’s one of our biggest advantages as a manufacturing company,” informs Jean. As a result, VMS continues to invest in new capabilities and capacity through acquisitions or direct asset investment to provide customers with an expansive portfolioof manufacturing options. The company has a robust investment plan that includes additional investment in automation innovation to increase capacity and lower overall component costs. 

VMS’s work culture also plays an important role in differentiating the company from other players. The culture is holistically focused on balancing the business, customers, employees, and the communities in which they work and live. “Accountability and integrity are important values for each employee. Life beyond work promotes happy, dedicated employees and supports volunteer time and investment in  our communities,” mentions Jean.

Striding toward a Better Future

“At VMS, we work with our customers to make the impossible possible when it comes to industrial product solutions. Our customers come to us with complex and challenging needs, and it’s our job to deliver solutions that yield results,” states Jean. “Our expert team of sales, engineers, designers, and manufacturers work together to create a custom, end to- end approach for each customer. This integrated, collaborative approach ensures a seamless experience while keeping costs down for the customers.”

COVID continues to pose challenges for the manufacturing and supply chain world. The impact of the pandemic on raw materials and the ability to source overseas will be a challenge for the foreseeable future. Shortages in materials and components along with logistics constraints will continue to increase costs in the short term, and that’s where a domestic supplier like VMS can shine. “We have mill-direct relationships to source raw materials and shipping domestically will avoid port congestion and the uncertainty of manufacturing outside of the United States. We continue to communicate lead times to our customers and are managing our inventories to mitigate delays and minimize cost impact,” concludes Jean.

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