From laborious product to assembly of innovative charging solution
How do you make more efficient use of the regular power socket? By equipping sockets with USB ports. Dordrecht-based Smarter Living decided to focus entirely on that idea in 2017. Supply Chain Manager Niels Kanters: “Electrical appliances are increasingly supplied with just a USB cable. With our products, we are responding to this trend. Thanks to our innovative design, we are the only party on the European market to sell these sockets, with corresponding certification.” As a 3PL service provider, Chain Logistics takes on the assembly and warehousing of the products.
Smarter Living’s engineers work with the customer to develop the charging solution. Its distinctiveness lies mainly in the power provided by the USB ports and the product’s built-in depth. Current products only have a built-in depth of 32 millimetres. As a result, the sockets can be used for renovation projects in addition to new construction projects.
From semi-finished products to end products
The semi-finished products arrive from China. Chain Logistics employees then assemble the end products. Besides assembly, Chain Logistics takes care of warehousing. The products eventually leave for end-users in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden and Spain.
A laborious product
There are as many as two to three hundred variants of the products sold by Smarter Living. Chain Logistics sees them all, thousands a week. Differences between the products include the colour of the cover, the type of packaging and stickers. A laborious product, Kanters calls the sockets. “Fortunately, that is exactly what Chain Logistics is strong in, dealing with laborious products. We have a real outsource culture. We do the development, marketing and sales. We outsource production. Growing in quantity of people is not a goal in itself. We focus on what we are good at and let our cooperation partners do the same.”
As soon as the order arrives on Wednesday, Chain Logistics picks the components from the warehouse and employees start assembling them. The order is ready the following week on Friday. There are quite a few human actions involved in assembly. Chain Logistics also carries out on-site tests: is the cover in the right place in relation to the usb port? After assembly of the products, Chain Logistics makes sure everything is ready for departure.
Scaling up and down
“When we started our collaboration in 2017, Chain Logistics was only processing a fraction of what it does now. The market fluctuates, we cannot always guarantee a stable production quantity. Sometimes you sell more than what you can actually handle. In that, we rely on Chain Logistics. They can easily scale up and down with flexible staff.”
Niels speaks to a Chain Logistics employee every week. Then it’s about a change in the parts list, or a different composition of components. “Every quarter we look at where we stand: what have we encountered and what can we possibly improve so that the quality goes up even further. We are currently looking at how we can increase volume with the same number of people. The whole process is difficult to automate; the human eye sees a lot. This is especially important with this product, because even the smallest deviation stands out. This is another reason why we keep each other on our toes.”
Like Smarter Living, would you like to grow and partner with a 3PL service provider for your assembly process, warehousing or transportation? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.