Responding to customer requirements

Over recent years, Inventor-e has continually invested in the development of its cloud-based ‘Sourcerer’ platform. Our aim to provide disruptive solutions that enhance the relationship and supply chain management of distributors with our manufacturing clients and with direct relationships with OEMs.

Turnover has increased by 60% in the last 12-months as market-leading organisations, including Babcock International and Rexel, have adopted Inventor-e’s technology. With new solutions on the way, the expectation is that sales will grow by 600% between now and 2021.

Inventor-e’s unique sell point (USP) is our ability to innovate industrial vending solutions. After significant research and investment, it was decided to identify a strategic manufacturing partner that could manage the build of the systems and, importantly, provide the ability to scale-up quickly.

Andy Ingram, Sales Director – Inventor-e

An initial meeting with PP Control & Automation (PP C&A) originally took place back in 2013 but at that time, the type and style of the opportunity was not a good fit for either party. However, all lines of communication remained open and in 2018 a new partnership was duly formed.

The perfect match – PP Control & Automation solution

With Inventor-e’s orders picking up rapidly, the timing was ‘perfect’ to explore working with PP C&A as a strategic manufacturing partner of SmartStores Secure – an access-controlled cabinet that uses the SmartStores app for access and to issue, return and restock products.

Following a meeting with operational teams at both companies, a manufacturing cell was created at PP C&A’s facility to build the initial systems – built to current design and shipped by the end of the year.

The build process allowed engineers from both companies to work together to explore areas for potential design improvements and enhancements. In addition, enable new supply chain opportunities that could be created through a collaborative supplier network.

These conversations highlighted a number of improvement suggestions and additional system variations of the product. These are now being explored to support specific product vending and application needs that will provide Inventor-e’s customers with a world-leading solution.

Another important capability that PP C&A provides is supporting the design specifications and approval process, with particular emphasis placed on the need for UL approval – UL is a world leader in product safety testing and certification. This will enable the product to be sold and supported into the potentially lucrative US and North American marketplaces.

Inventor-e can now focus on its core competences of technology development and software integration, in order to provide innovative industrial vending and inventory management solutions. PP C&A continues to support as a true manufacturing partner with scalability, who can also assist with future product design and development.

Speed to market and agility will be key to future success. Both companies are confident that, with this partnership in place, this will be a relationship that will deliver.

The business benefits of outsourcing

In just a short space of time, PP C&A has proven to Inventor-e that strategic outsourcing can offer it a cost-effective way of building its growing range of point-of-use systems quickly. Proof and peace of mind that rapid scale-up can be achieved.

It has also highlighted how ‘design iterations’ can be easily integrated into the ‘build’ process to satisfy the growing requirements of clients that require bespoke solutions to provide a wide range of industrial and facilities management applications.

This confidence has come at a very opportune moment for Inventor-e, who has completed an exclusive agreement with a global distributor on its current product range for industrial sectors (excluding aerospace and healthcare).

The volumes for this contract could be game-changing for the business and would not be possible to achieve without a strategic manufacturing partner in place to support the ramp-up.

A meeting has already taken place at PP C&A’s state-of-the-art production facility. A number of initial actions agreed to look at strengthening the supply chain and sourcing new suppliers that can meet production volumes and are UL compliant.

A certification specialist has also been introduced to complete a full evaluation and design review to the relevant North American standard (UL62368).

Whilst the relationship between the three companies is at an early stage, there have already been discussions about the strategy of PP C&A building products both in the UK and North America in order to support market demands.

The team at PP C&A has provided us with a lot of food for thought on future builds and we have already used its design and engineering expertise to improve our solutions and reduce costs.

The results…

  • World-class manufacturing cell created quickly and without significant direct investment from Inventor-e
  • Lead times reduced for the SmartStores Secure system by over 20%
  • Additional manufacturing capabilities have helped Inventor-e increase sales by 60% and create 10 new jobs
  • New design iterations explored that will improve the configuration of the systems
  • Support with making the systems compliant and ready for distribution in the United States and North America
  • Manufacturing agreement designed to support a new exclusivity agreement

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