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INSIGHT

of ramp ups or other significant deviation in usage. The key customer benefit is the elimination of human intervention and therefore risk of error. “The number of times we have been able to prevent shortages is remarkable,” says David Dean, “and thoroughly validates the system. The best salesman is now the customer down the road who is already operating Smart Bin.” “We are not just in technology for the technology,” Dean

continues. “There has to be a value, one that we can sell and that delivers genuine benefits to the customer.” A reminder again, that while Bossard might occasionally lapse into some high sounding sales speak, the delivery is consistently and firmly rooted to the ground. Smart Bin has unquestionably demonstrated that practicality, operating now in some very remote locations simply through appropriate adjustment to the replenishment lead times. If Smart Bin has a downside it is in being completely automatic - a feature that has recently necessitated Bossard developing an ERP interface that allows it to ‘flash back’ data to the customers so that they can record it in their own financial and procurement systems. Bossard has a longstanding tradition of working with

customers to solve problems – what it increasingly thinks of as “co-innovation” with its customers. Its sales people are

self-drilling screws and Eco-fix® grip®

vibration resistant screws. Bos- evolved from a specific solution for a bicycle manufacturer

unsuccessfully using a socket screw and spring washer combination as a stem bolt. Bos-grip has an anti-loosening design with a serrated washer face eliminating the need for a separate washer, which allows automatic assembly and, because a lower property class fastener can be used, reduces the risk of hydrogen induced embrittlement failure. Not surprisingly the Bicycle Manufacturing Association of Taiwan now approves Bos-grip. Eco-lubric®

reflects a different but nevertheless crucial

technology approach. It is a special coating technology designed to ensure consistent co-efficiency of friction, creating the potential in some applications for the use of smaller fasteners without compromising joint integrity. It also ensures effective corrosion protection and, as could be expected from a Bossard solution, eliminates the potential risks of human omission in application. Bossard is not looking to base future product development

Smart Bin goes mobile

technically oriented, looking to achieve early involvement in the design process to address aesthetic issues, safety, functionality and production cost, which all rolls into what Bossard thinks of as “lean design”. On occasions working with the designer alone may not be enough. “Often we also need to get the production people onside,” says David Dean, “because they are the ones that recognise the potential savings that can be achieved. Sometimes it is essential for senior managers from Bossard to engage at similar levels with the customer – it’s not always easy to do but it can be key in overcoming the change aversion that may be ingrained elsewhere in the customer’s business.” Sixty full qualified engineers do the “high end stuff”, says Dean, but fastening technology education is a long tradition for Bossard, providing technical seminars and, more recently, an eLearning service to both customers and its own personnel, whether they are front line sales people or those in accounting and other not directly customer related functions. Key to developing solutions is the Bossard Technical Centre

in Taiwan. “It is not typical for a fastener distributor to have its own R&D,” explains Andi Bertaggia. “We have flexible, competent manufacturing partners – we don’t want to make the parts ourselves. We do want to combine application solution and supply.” Over the last two years Bossard has recognised the opportunity to leverage successful specific engineered solutions to a wider audience. This proprietary development is clearly now seen as an important strategic route for the Group. Examples already include Eco-syn®

screws for thermoplastics, Eco-drill®

solely on its own proprietary products. The Group already has partnerships with an extensive list of globally recognised fastener brand manufacturers. “We recognise these brands have good solutions,” explains Andi Bertaggia. “Nord-Lock, for example, came to Bossard seeking a partner in the development of a global marketing strategy. Bossard offers a global infrastructure, a mix of customers and market segments and the technical capability to work with users at that critical design phase to introduce the benefits of advance fastening solutions.” The brand representation process was led by Bossard’s Asian operation initially. The Group recognised its value and took up what Asia started, making it part of Bossard’s global strategy. Once again, the pivotal concept is trust. “There was a period when producers of many performance products developed their own representation and routes to market,” Bertaggia reflects. “That often came from distrust of distribution’s ability to represent and sell their product and to be loyal in the longer term. Now there are pressures on the manufacturers, including the financial costs of representation and distribution, and they are recognising the end customer wants fewer not more suppliers. Over a five- year period we have demonstrated the importance of trust in relationships with our brand partners. In turn what we look for is not just a product but a unique, added value solution.” Bossard’s focus between 2010 and 2015 is on accelerated

growth with continuous improvement in its market penetration. “We have something that stands out in the industry and we should capitalise on it,” says David Dean. “While I certainly did not like the experience, 2009 was a fantastic test to see if what we had built between 2004 - 2008 would hold – and it did. Bossard today is significantly different from how it was 6 - 7 years ago.” “We want to focus particularly on the niche markets where

we know we can be most effective. We will continue to be focused on where we can deliver value to the customer and in doing so obtain value for ourselves.” The emphasis will be on organic growth: “acquisitions

would only be highly targeted”, says Dean. “There is no point in acquiring just to get the customers, when we have to change the acquired business totally to fit Bossard. Better to go out and win the customers we want, based on the values in which we know we can be totally confident. There remains a huge upside in a lot of Bossard business units.” “To grow, we need capacity,” Dean adds, which explains

well advanced plans to virtually double warehouse capacity at the Zug logistics centre. Bossard’s Beijing operation will also be relocated to a larger facility to respond to demand that has already outstripped existing capacity, and there are plans to build a new integrated facility in Malaysia. The bottom line objective? To double sales by 2015 – an

achievement that will require an average 15% growth per year. “Profitable growth,” emphasises David Dean, “we are only interested in profitable growth.”

46 Fastener + Fixing Magazine • Issue 68 March 2011

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