“Change is inevitable. Growth is a choice.” John C. Maxwell
For over two decades, Component Engineering has helped customers deliver consistent, high quality parts. From simple to complex, manual to automated solutions, our business model and capabilities have evolved and grown to meet changing customer and industry needs.
With the launch of our redesigned website, we thought it would be a good time to ask the owners what big changes they’ve seen in the business, and what we can expect in the future.
You’ve owned the business for almost four years now. What are some of the big changes to the business that you’ve seen in that short time?
Simply put, an acceleration. In looking at our customers and their customers, there has been a rapid acceleration in expectations and requirements for quality parts and components. To expand on that – our customers are feeling the need to run faster, cheaper and leaner to remain competitive. As a result, the solutions we design in concert with them must perform in kind. Tolerances are tighter. Variable data capture and reporting is becoming standard. 100% inspection is an increasing requirement. Meeting these requirements demands quality inspection that goes beyond a manual review, and solutions that integrate into larger, more complex systems that help prevent, not just detect, problems.
In looking at our overall business, we’ve seen an accelerating shift in our product mix and industries served. Five years ago, our product mix was around 60% gauges and 40% digital probes and automated inspection. Today our mix is closer to 30% gauges and 70% automated inspection and probes. We’re seeing year-over-year increases in requests for automated inspection solutions, and the addition of laser, vision and robotics components is accelerating this further. Where most of our business used to be automotive based, we’ve expanded to design and deliver solutions for contract furniture, foam technologies, and food and beverage solutions to name a few.
Since Component Engineering was founded, competition has grown both regionally and internationally. What are you doing to stay competitive?
A big part of what sets us apart is our experience and industry expertise as well as offering a broad range of solutions that go beyond quality inspection.
Let’s start with expertise – we are fortunate to have an experienced design and build team at Component Engineering. In addition to technical expertise, many of them have worked in the various industries we serve, so they have a strong understanding of the customer needs and how to look at the bigger picture so that we design the right solution for the entire need.
Our broader range of solutions includes the standard fixture and gauge shop offer, but automation and controls integration are a growing area of need with the rapid advancements of technology in the manufacturing process. In recognition of this, last year we launched Orka Automation in response to customer requests for solutions that went beyond quality inspection. Having the ability to say, “Yes and yes” to our customer needs is a clear differentiator. Not only can we deliver solutions that help customers detect quality issues, we can help design processes to prevent issues before they occur.
Finally, we’ve also made changes in marketing. Twenty years ago, customers and potential customers would have never searched for a checking gauge or quality inspection option on the Internet. Today if you don’t have a good digital presence, you’re quickly moved to the “B” pile. Doing some type of advertising that gets you in front of potential customers is key to growth. We’re excited about our growing digital and social presence and what it can do for our business.
Looking 3-5 years down the road, what does Quality Inspection look like?
Automated solutions that include new technologies are going to be a big part of what quality inspection looks like soon.
With the shift in the workforce, our customers are already looking to automated inspection to meet customer needs while making the work environment safer and less mundane for their workforce. We don’t necessarily see automation and automated quality inspection replacing the workforce as we do shifting workforce skill set requirements.
Another area that is expanding rapidly is data – with all these new technologies offering digital measurement and testing, companies are finding that data overload is a huge risk. One of the areas we’re focusing on is not just the capture of data, but the presentation and interpretation of data to help improve processes. If you can’t see the forest through the trees, the benefits of digital transformation in manufacturing will not be met. The winners in our industry will be those that can help their customers turn data into business intelligence to drive better decisions.
Overall, how are you feeling about the evolution of Component Engineering to date, and how you are positioned for the future?
We are proud of where we’ve been and the progress that’s been made since Component Engineering got its start. We couldn’t be more excited and confident in our ability to continue to evolve to meet our customer needs. We’re a creative group who values experience and isn’t afraid to try new things in order to improve our value to our customers. We partner with experts in the areas that we aren’t and strive first to design solutions that ensure our customers deliver quality parts. Our customers have a tough job in front of them – and they need a partner that can keep pace.