Hygiene firm gains custom metal design capability with on-demand engineering co.
“I came up with the idea, Richard and Terry designed it, and Machine Technology IMS 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 Machine Technology IMS. By resolving complex design challenges quickly, reliably and at a predictable cost, Machine Technology IMS has helped Initial improve operational efficiency, increase commercial flexibility, and expand its services.
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.
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, Machine Technology 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.”
Machine Technology IMS started manufacturing the enclosures, which have proved so successful they are still in production 18 years later. In the meantime, Machine Technology IMS has expanded and offer a wide range of metal manufacturing services. “Machine Technology IMS 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.”
With help from Machine Technology IMS, 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 Machine Technology IMS service is their speed in reacting to our project needs. The Machine Technology IMS 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 Machine Technology IMS 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 Machine Technology IMS, 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 Machine Technology IMS,” he says. “Machine Technology IMS 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 Machine Technology IMS, 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 Machine Technology IMS. If stocks at the logistics centre run down, John can order replacements with guaranteed delivery within two weeks. To meet and manage unforeseen demand, Machine Technology IMS has a strategic part-production policy.
“With some stock items, for example syringe enclosures, Machine Technology IMS 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 Machine Technology IMS to find ways of improving staff productivity. In mid-2013, Machine Technology IMS 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. “Machine Technology IMS 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 from Machine Technology IMS have proved they are masters at creative metal engineering,” he adds. “If our challenge involves metal, we go to Machine Technology IMS.”