St. Ann’s Sheet Metal have long specialised in reproduction of existing products, especially where potential customers do not have existing drawings or CAD files. One of our customers has seen first-hand the application of these skills in the creation of their product.
When they first came to St. Ann’s Sheet Metal, the project entailed a complete replication of a unique style of workplace cabinet, only the original manufacturer had unfortunately gone bankrupt. When copying a product, it’s common to find a few areas for improvement but our first priority is meeting the requirements of the job at hand. After completely reproducing the product, the customer was happy to proceed with production for their urgent requirement.
Where possible, we are always trying to make design improvements that can save our customers time and money. This is not always just making a reproduction, it involves us looking at the product and using our experience to redesign , and making it better than before.Our process for doing this involves gaining permission to prototype a new design and then presenting it to the customer on completion. The production of workplace cabinets to the customers original design, and undertaken by St. Ann’s Sheet Metal, initially included five hundred individually installed pop rivets per unit. The use of so many rivets presented an opportunity to implement substantial cost savings. Each cabinet also had a number of doors which had cut-to-size piano hinges pop riveted in place. The piano hinges and rivets were taking up such a large amount of the cost and production/assembly time that the first saving St Ann’s implemented was to replace all hinges in a column with a single stainless steel bar.
The next step was to create a mechanical fixing system for the multitude of individual dividing plates that formed each chamber in the cabinets. For this we developed a laser cut slot and tab mechanism, which in turn coupled with the new hinge design, reduced the number of rivets required from five hundred per unit to just four.
The customer was pleased with the finished re-design and has continued to develop the product alongside St. Ann’s over the months that have followed. A variety of smaller changes, to help manufacture and assembly and therefore reduce cost, have completely transformed this project whilst allowing it to function and look the same whilst also enabling the customer to be competitive.
The inefficiencies in the previous design of the cabinet were enough to demonstrate how the margins of the now bankrupt company could have been improved upon through higher quality, and more efficient manufacturing processes.