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Case Study: Inventor-e

Strategic outsourcing with PP C&A is allowing us to globally scale our business with a trusted partner, without the significant direct cost of setting up our own manufacturing facilities.

Dean Henry, C.E.O

The customer requirements

Inventor-e was established in 2001 as a technology business to provide point-of-use solutions to industrial manufacturers and the facilities management markets.

Over the last six years, the Solihull-based company has focused on the development of its cloud-based ‘Sourcerer’ platform and providing disruptive solutions to enhance the relationship and supply chain management of its distributors with its manufacturing clients and with direct relationships with OEMs.

Turnover has increased by 60% in the last year as market leading organisations, including Babcock International and Rexel, have adopted its technology and, with new solutions on the way, the expectation is that sales will grow by 600% between now and 2021.

The firm’s USP is through its ability to innovate industrial vending and, after significant discussions, it was decided to identify a strategic manufacturing partner that could manage the build of the systems and, importantly, give it the ability to scale-up quickly.

An initial meeting with PP Control & Automation (PP C&A) originally took place back in 2013, but at that time, the type and style of the opportunity was not a good fit for either party. However, all lines of communication remained open and in 2018, further dialogue took place and a new partnership was duly formed.

The PP Control & Automation solution

With Inventor-e’s orders picking up rapidly, the timing was ‘perfect’ to explore working with PP C&A as a strategic manufacturing partner of SmartStores Secure, an access-controlled cabinet that uses the SmartStores app for access and to issue, return and restock product.

Following a meeting with operational teams at both companies, a manufacturing cell was created at PP C&A’s facility to build the initial systems – all built to current design and shipped at the end of last year.

The build process allowed engineers from both companies to work together to explore areas for potential design improvements, as well as new supply chain opportunities that could be created through a collaborative supplier network.

These conversations highlighted a number of improvement suggestions and additional systems/variations of the product that are now being explored to support specific product vending and application needs that will provide Inventor-e’s customers with a world leading solution.

Another important capability that PP C&A could provide was supporting the design specifications and approval process, with particular emphasis placed on the need for UL approval. This would enable the product to be sold and supported into the potentially lucrative US and North American marketplaces.

Inventor-e can now focus on its core competences of technology development and software integration, in order to provide innovative industrial vending and inventory management solutions. PP C&A continues to support as a true manufacturing partner with scalability, who can also assist with future product design and development.

Speed to market and agility will be key to future success and both companies are confident that they have a partnership in place that will deliver.

The real business benefits

In just a short space of time, PP C&A has proven to Inventor-e that strategic outsourcing can offer it a cost-effective way of building its growing range of point-of-use systems quickly, giving it peace of mind that rapid scale-up can be achieved.

It has also highlighted how design iterations can be easily integrated into the ‘build’ process to satisfy the growing requirements of clients for bespoke solutions that fit a wide range of industrial and facilities management applications.

This confidence has come at a very opportune moment for Inventor-e, who has completed an exclusive agreement with a global distributor on its current product range for industrial sectors (excluding aerospace and healthcare).

The volumes for this contract could be game-changing for the business and would not be possible to achieve without a strategic manufacturing partner in place to support with the ramp-up.

A meeting has already taken place at PP C&A’s state-of-the-art production facility and a number of initial actions agreed to look at strengthening the supply chain and sourcing new suppliers that can meet production volumes and are UL compliant.

A certification specialist has also been introduced to complete a full evaluation and design review to the relevant North American standard (UL62368).

Whilst the relationship between the three companies is at an early stage, there have already been discussions about the strategy of PP C&A building products both in the UK and North America in order to support market demands.

“The team at PP C&A has provided us with a lot of food for thought on future builds and we have already used its design and engineering expertise to improve our solutions and reduce costs.”

Andy Ingram, Sales Director

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