Rising on up through the ranks - INNOVATOR

With Germany and Italy accounting for half the woodworking machinery exports worldwide, no one is going to contest that Europe is the global leader when it comes to this sector. But Taiwan ranks third. The reason for this is simply that for much less money the machines deliver just about the same performance, durability and output. However, president of Eumabois Frans-Josef Butfering recently expounded on the ideology behind the federation's new slogan "Choose the Original Choose Success!" The advantage that keeps Europe ahead of the competition he says lies in the "value of original technologies". Of course with the Europeans the quality, innovation and efficiency are superior, and what you get when you invest in a European machine is a relationship with experienced experts that will ensure optimum output and longer machine life cycles. Nothing compares to experience, and expertise can only come through greater experience. This is where Taiwan may have something to aspire to. ****************** A Savvy Acquisition ****************** Companies that are savvy enough to invest in R&D despite these lean order times are the ones that will come out on top. INNOVATOR is one of these companies, and they are taking it a big step further. For years INNOVATOR has offered top technology in veneer splicing. wfd paid the company a visit and discovered they aim to offer the client the very expertise the Europeans possess. INNOVATOR has acquired rights from its European counterpart SAVI INDUSTRI A/S, and is currently manufacturing SAVI machines here in Taiwan, according to "the European way of doing things." Managing Director of INNOVATOR Mr. Ian Chang was educated in the States and has a very practical perspective on the needs of western woodworking firms. He believes that the demand for woodworking machinery is still there even with this economic downturn, but many buyers are either reluctant to spend big money making new investments or having difficulty attaining investment loans to obtain European machines. "This could be good for the Taiwanese, if our machines are competitive enough through every perspective." He emphasized that this is a good time for companies to delve into taking the steps necessary to optimize "internal management". Marketing to countries a long distance away requires a long list of criterion in order to be successful. First, you need a strong partner on the ground. Professional internal management includes the ability to produce clear and precise blueprints, rapid client response, spare part management, ease of part swap and maintenance, product & production line organization, factory management and systemization, to name a few. "We have no control over the economic situation," he says, "but we can control what happens between our company and our clients." ************************************** You can copy a machine, but not a system ************************************** In the face of rampant "reverse engineering" a major strength Europe has to offer is its systemization. It comes from the unification of experts with the experience to know what works and what doesn't in order to produce the best quality efficiently. But Taiwan experiences this problem as well. This is why INNOVATOR did not care to expose too many details of their technology. Samples on the table of various veneers spliced beautifully down to thicknesses of 0.18mm were enough to convince anyone that the technology is all there. That's thinner than a sheet of paper, but necessary in light of the rising cost of lumber. What they did care to discuss is the new systemization they are developing. It stems from their recent acquisition of SAVI manufacturing systems. This renowned woodworking machine company in Denmark has a 25 year background and has been a counterpart of INNOVATOR for a long time. One thing that has rubbed off on the company is what they refer to as "zero discrepancy production", meaning that whether it be the first machine off the production line or the 100th, the quality and performance of all machines are exactly identical. Also, when it comes to spare parts they have to be identical to the original ones no matter how many years they were previously manufactured. The accuracy of those parts is what ensures smooth changeovers when the time comes, and the speedy continuance of production. "How clear are your maintenance manuals? How fast can you get them the replacement parts? How well do they fit in and how easy are they to fit in? These questions are extremely important from the end users' perspective, and we do our best to see things through their eyes... Rather than just building a new machine, we are devoting our efforts to building a new internal system that will help us be different from our competitors," Mr. Chang says. SAVI sends their engineers to Taiwan frequently to ensure an optimum continuance of their expertise through INNOVATOR. ****************** A tour of the factory ****************** We are not at liberty to get too detailed about the technical ins and outs of what INNOVATOR is now producing, but let it suffice to be said that when the brushed stainless steel covers slide away, the innards of the machines look like some kind of high-tech secret weaponry about to be shot out into space. Very impressive. A great deal of care is obviously put into the tiniest detail. When we took a close look at its newly developed guillotine line, Mr. Chang explained the idea behind what they call "second cut" processing. When the guillotine is cutting through thick stacks of veneer or particularly hard or thick material it happens that the wedge effect of the blade causes cracks and irregularities in the finished edges. "What you want is a perfect 90 degree edge surface that will butt join together so that the joint is stronger than the actual wood." The SAVI solution to this is delivered at the touch of a button. While the pack of veneer is still compressed under the beam, the knife hydraulically nudges back a millimeter and makes another pass. Since it's just removing a minute amount of material, there is no wedge effect and you are left with a perfect joinable surface. ************************ Not just another pretty face ************************ Each of the various machines on the floor was absolutely beautiful, but that's not the main selling point. Operator safety is one, though. They employ a combination of photoelectric beams and dual push button safe guards. What this means is that if there is a break in the beam or one of the buttons is not compressed, the pack beam halts immediately. This allows the operator to hand adjust the veneer position with no risk of getting a finger squashed. Also, the knife can only move under the aforementioned conditions. It returns to the upward position automatically in case of a breach. A guard in back prevents any curious fingers from reaching in and touching moving parts. ******************** Self running systems ******************** As European manufacturers tend to gauge their success based on the success of their customers, INNOVATOR is committed to emphasizing its own client's prospects for success as well. SAVI systemization is an example of the strength the Europeans offer in terms of "original technology", and it's that expertise that INNOVATOR is savvy to now. Their client's are well supported and are pumping out product that contends with the world's best. It's all part of the goal INNOVATOR is realizing, that the systems they provide will eventually run themselves. So what do you get when you invest in an INNOVATOR machine? What you get is a the result of decades of tested and true technology, and the value of a relationship with experienced experts that will ensure optimum output and longer machine life cycles. Undoubtedly, INNOVATOR is one Taiwanese company that is bound to come out on top.
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