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Case Studies

Hygiene firm gains custom metal design capability with on-demand engineering co.

“I came up with the idea, Richard and Terry designed it, and FountainLine built it. Their first prototype had no defects, and from order to delivery of a brand new product took just five weeks. That’s trust—fulfilled.”

John Nicholls, National Warehouse Manager, Initial Hygiene

Washroom hygiene specialist, Initial, services thousands of sanitary bins each day in hospitals, prisons and commercial premises. To adapt to each new customer, Initial needs to design and manufacture unique metal enclosures and fittings. Since 1995, Initial has used Sydney-based FountainLine. By resolving complex design challenges quickly, reliably and at a predictable cost, FountainLine has helped Initial improve operational efficiency, increase commercial flexibility, and expand its services.

Business Needs

Initial is a large, Sydney-based hygiene and waste disposal group. The company supplies thousands of premises with feminine sanitary bins and syringe receptacles, which staff members collect, empty and replenish from a logistics and incineration facility. Customers frequently ask Initial to adapt their bins to suite the requirements of particular premises, such as hospitals, prisons and parks. As a result, Initial needs to design and manufacture additional enclosures and housings to varying specifications. One catch, however, is that the designs need to take account of strict operational safety requirements.

Solution

In 1995, Sydney Council asked Initial to design an especially robust housing for public syringe deposit bins. The housing and bracket had to be sufficiently easy for Initial staff to work with when they emptied and re-filled the bins, but keep those staff safe from the risk of contamination. Initial approached specialist metal manufacturer, FountainLine IMS.

“We presented the executives with the challenge, and explained exactly what we needed,” says John Nicholls. “They took the time to understand all the design and operational factors involved, and together we came up with a winning design.”

FountainLine started manufacturing the enclosures, which have proved so successful they are still in production 18 years later. In the meantime, FountainLine has expanded and offer a wide range of metal manufacturing services. “FountainLine has become a key supplier,” says John. “Today, they perform numerous one-off design and manufacturing services for us, making a range of devices from hybrid wire bin fittings to bin trolleys.”

Benefits

With help from FountainLine, Initial can quickly design and manufacture solutions to operational problems, ensuring the firm adapts quickly to changes in customer demand.

Resolving complex design challenges, first time

“A key feature of the FountainLine service is their speed in reacting to our project needs. The FountainLine executives, Terry and Richard, offer a great design service,” says John. “They respond quickly, and when we look at a new challenge together, we solve it together. Sometimes, this response is critical to business operations.”

In June 2013, the UK manufacturer of one of Initial’s principal hygiene bins suddenly changed bin specifications. “We wanted to keep the same basic frame for the trolley we used to transport the bins on customer premises, but needed a different tray,” says John. “I came up with the idea, Richard and Terry designed it, and FountainLine built it. The first prototype had no defects; and from order to delivery of a brand new product took just five weeks. That’s trust—fulfilled.”

Transparent costs and capabilities

With FountainLine, John also has confidence that production costs and schedules will stay on track. “Cost is a very big factor in our decision to keep using FountainLine,” he says. “FountainLine are also very transparent about their capabilities. They make sure we know what they can do and when, and that’s proved the foundation of a very good relationship. With FountainLine, we don’t get surprises.”

A flexible production resource

To ensure that stock will always be available when it is needed, Nicholls maintains a fixed production-forecast agreement with FountainLine. If stocks at the logistics centre run down, John can order replacements with guaranteed delivery within two weeks. To meet and manage unforeseen demand, FountainLine has a strategic part-production policy.

“With some stock items, for example syringe enclosures, FountainLine cuts extra steel plates with each production run, and then holds them in reserve,” says John. “If we hit sudden demand, they proceed straight to folding and drilling. As a result, they can produce 20-30 enclosures within a couple of weeks if we need them urgently. That flexibility is a great business asset.”

A force for operational efficiency

Nicholls has also consulted with FountainLine to find ways of improving staff productivity. In mid-2013, FountainLine took delivery of a new range of hygiene bins that took an excessive amount of time to empty.

“Our field staff service hundreds of bins per day, so speed is crucial,” says John. “FountainLine came up with a unique, wire-framed bag-holder device that enables our guys to empty the bins quickly and hygienically. This has proved a real time-saver for us, and popular with our staff.”

“Richard and Terry–FountainLine–have proved they are masters at creative metal engineering,” he adds. “If our challenge involves metal, we go to FountainLine.”

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