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BindRite Industry Articles
by Al Boese, Executive Director
BindRite Dealer Network
APES- 14 Automatic Paper Ejector & Stacker module
Rhin-O-Tuff manufacturing plant in Boise, ID, USA.
Performance Design: A Lean Machine Making It In America
Most people know Rhin-O-Tuff as one of the premier brands of table top paper punches and binding equipment, with a reputation for innovation, reliability and durability. What a lot of customers don't know, however, is that the Rhin-O-Tuff line of equipment is manufactured exclusively in the USA. With a new management team taking the helm in 2009, the Boise, ID-based company has deployed the "lean manufacturing" model to compete effectively against offshore competitors while holding on to its tradition as industry innovators.
From Racing Cars to Modular Punch Solutions
In 1994, Performance Design, Inc. founder Marvin Whiteman already had years of experience under his belt manufacturing precision equipment and had a passion for high performance racing cars. But it was a side project designing a part for a paper punch that motivated Whiteman to enter the emerging table top binding equipment business. As a start up, Whiteman and his team introduced the concept of interchangeable dies and rolled out the original Versa-Punch. That original machine laid the foundation for the Rhin-O-Tuff line of comb, plastic coil and double loop wire binding and finishing equipment. Defined by a modular approach to binding productivity, the brand continued to evolve as the on-demand printing industry exploded. The company thrived as its binding equipment was deployed in copy centers, digital printing shops and in-house corporate environments around the globe.
Along with success, however, came a new challenge: the rapid growth of offshore companies manufacturing equipment in countries with far lower wage and operating costs. How was the company to continuing producing machines in Boise while maintaining the highest standards of quality and yet remain price competitive with Asian manufacturers? That was the undertaking facing Randy Stewart in 2009 when he took over a President and CEO of Rhin-O-Tuff.
With a 30 year background in engineering and operations, Stewart began implementing Silicon Valley's "lean startup" model at PDI about five years ago. "Lean" is an entrepreneurial business approach that focuses on establishing value streams, creating flow, eliminating waste, and adding value across the enterprise, from operations thru administration. As the system took hold at PDI, the company was able to significantly reduce manufacturing and inventory costs, streamline processes and improve quality.
In 2013, the first concrete evidence that the plan was working appeared, as Rhin-O-Tuff introduced the ONYX line of coil binding solutions at Graphics of Americas tradeshow. The company also announced a three year warranty along with the new product line. That same year, the new strategy was validated as Rhin-O-Tuff was awarded the Readers Choice award from Quick Printing Magazine for the Top Binding and Bookletmaking Equipment at Print 2013.
Advantages to Holding the Line
According to Vice-President of Business Development John Lugviel, the decision to keep manufacturing in Boise, combined with the lean manufacturing model, has conferred advantages beyond the ability to compete on price.
"Our supply chain gives us the flexibility to ramp up or down quickly as the market dictates," says Lugviel. "If we have an engineering part or design change we can implement this quickly so our customers and partners don't need to wait weeks and even months for a fix. We also have complete control over quality. This would not be possible if we were to manufacture our core products in Asia Pacific."
Ultimately, says Lugviel, manufacturing in Boise has resulted in a benefit to Rhin-O-Tuff customers.
"Vertical integration processes means we can customize dies or configure customer orders in a matter of a couple days in many instances - very little needs to be outsourced," notes Lugviel.
Today, the Rhin-O-Tuff line includes manual and electric punch equipment for coil, comb and wire applications, modular add-ons for stacking as well as binders and openers. The company also manufactures commercial equipment for larger scale operations.