Author: 
Mikael Axelsson
  • 2020-05-15
  • 17 MIN READ
2020-05-15
Author:
Mikael Axelsson
17 MIN READ

To Go All In – from warehousing to order-based production

It may seem that Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs and the Wright brothers have little in common, but they had an important common denominator: They had a clear why for doing what they did.

 

Why does Garantell exist?

We communicated what we were doing, sometimes how we were doing it, but seldom why. Inspired by Simon Sinek and his book Start With Why, we decided to communicate why we exist and why we do what we do.

Our ‘why’ shouldn’t be about making money – that is a result of ‘why’. Ordinarily, very few employees or customers are motivated by making money for shareholders.

Garantell’s ‘why’ became: We believe in making people´s day-to-day lives easier.

Our aim is to simplify day-to-day life, both for ourselves and the people around us. We believe that everything can be done more simply.

No, no, that won’t work...

Five years ago, Garantell was mass producing wire mesh panels in the largest possible volumes and with the smallest possible dimensions, which was then stored in a huge warehouse. Growth was good and we needed to increase our production capacity.

A feasibility study was carried out: What would the numbers look like with production in Asia and storage in Central Europe? Would it be possible to match Asian imports with production in Sweden?

We discussed various technical solutions for faster mass production, all in order to produce at a lower cost than imports from Asia.

 

Why not?

Sometime around this stage, an employee named Erik posed the question: Why not produce that is wire mesh panels optimally adapted to the sizes required for each customer project instead? Then there would be no need to produce as many wire mesh panels, since you would not have to piece together several smaller standard mesh panels to achieve the desired dimensions. Those of us at the meeting said: “No, no, that won’t work, and, if it could work, it wouldn’t be viable financially.” Erik responded by saying that if there’s a will, there’s a way.

After some time, the rest of us realised that it was an exciting idea and was worth exploring further.

 

Evaluation of the idea

When we evaluated the idea, we came across an online tool that we found interesting. The company Skymaker had developed an incredibly sophisticated online drawing program by creating an individual database for every detail that was drawn. The information could then be used to communicate with other programs, such as business systems for calculations, and then be used to prepare quotes and place orders. But also to govern the processes in production.

It was around this time we realised that we could revolutionise our work methods if we were able to build highly flexible and dynamic machines in production, fully controlled by the information generated when the product was drawn up. This would allow for the full automation of our processes. In other words, the customer could draw up their projects online, prepare their quotes and place orders.

 

What value would this create for our customers?

  • Uncompromising work methods: instead of the customer adapting their projects to the limited range we had chosen to stock, we could customise every detail uniquely to the customer’s project.
  • Environmental benefit: with custom sizes, the customer would not have to cut the products to size. This also reduces transport volumes and facilitates better resource management as a result of less scrappage.
  • More efficient assembly: since each component is individually adapted, the number of constituent components is significantly decreased.

 

From words to action

We made the decision to restructure the entire company from the ground up, fully automate our processes, and establish wholly order-based production. The cost was estimated at about 80% of our turnover at that time.

Formulating descriptions for full procurement of the project seemed excessive and would have been very limiting, since we knew what we wanted but not how. We therefore opted to collaborate with individuals in whom we had a great deal of trust, by means of running accounts without procurement, and with the freedom to make corrections at any time during the course of the project.

 

Where do you find expertise in the forests of Småland?

Six partners joined the project, mostly locals from around Värnamo, and all with a common denominator: They are small companies with strong owner commitment. We have run projects with some of the individuals in these companies for more than 25 years. Business understanding was something highly valued, which is why the project was run by dedicated project managers. The project managers had a clear goal regarding what we wanted to accomplish, but were given considerable freedom in how to accomplish it. Skills and expertise were attained through our networks and those of our partners.

 

Result

Our full range is now available online, and it is fully order-based. We have evolved from offering a few hundred items to offering several billion variants.

Customers themselves are able to draw, prepare quotes, and place orders. A production order is then submitted fully automatically and directly queued in the manufacturing machines.

Plus, packaging optimisation, freight calculations, lead time estimates and credit checks are all fully automated and require no administrative work.

 

Smart Industry Award

On 31 January 2019, we proudly accepted first prize in the Smart Industry contest, which was awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), Siemens, and Teknikföretagen (Association of Swedish Engineering Industries. Read more about it here:
https://www.iva.se/publicerat/Garantell_vann_smartindustri/

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