Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - November 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
RedEye On Demand jets into the aerospace industry with ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications.
Continuous Improvement Manager Luanne Eisenschenk holds a product manufactured by one of the company's 129 Stratasys 3D printers.
Between 2010 and 2011, rapid prototyping business RedEye On Demand nearly doubled its sales to the aerospace market. This year, the seven-year-old Eden Prairie-based company anticipates a 25 percent overall sales increase, and is poised for 30-40 percent sales growth in 2013. Continuous Improvement Manager Luanne Eisenschenk attributes much of the company’s accelerating success to its recent ISO 9001:2008 and AS9100 certifications.
“ISO certification allows us to show our customers that we care about our quality and that there is a formal system in place. It’s not really a choice if you want to get into these industries and grow and be competitive. To go above and beyond, we had to do the AS9100 as well,” she says.
As the service division of 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, RedEye uses Stratasys printers to form customers’ design files into three-dimensional prototypes and end-use parts by extruding thermoplastic material layer by layer and fusing each layer to the one beneath it. Parts vary in size from model trains to wind turbines. For larger parts, RedEye bonds multiple components together. With more than 75,000 parts produced each year and turnaround times as short as two days, a variety of machines and locations is essential. Its 126 3D printing machines are housed at five facilities around the world, with 79 machines at its headquarters in Eden Prairie, and the other 47 scattered across smaller facilities in Europe, Australia and Turkey.
To standardize quality across companies and nations, ISO published the first family of international quality management standards, called ISO 9000, in 1987. Today, ISO 9000 standards are recognized as the most widely known standards in the world. Once a rarity, ISO certification is becoming an industry standard among manufacturers selling to the tightly regulated aerospace, defense and medical industries. AS9100 certification takes quality management a step further, focusing on contract reviews and analyzing and minimizing risks when companies are asked to quote a project. RedEye worked with Enterprise Minnesota on both certifications, receiving ISO certification in January 2011 and AS9100 certification in December 2011.
RedEye had always had a few aerospace customers, but Eisenschenk says they were only interested in the company’s prototype capabilities. Its new certifications have piqued the industry’s interest in purchasing endues components as well. As of August, the company had attracted 123 new customers this year in Minnesota alone.
Eisenschenk says the certifications provide internal benefits, too. ISO 9001’s requirement of written job instructions for each position means fewer opportunities for information to get “lost in translation” and easier transitions for new employees.
“We lost our operations manager. When the new one started, he was able to sit down and see our flow chart and our procedures so he could draw connections and understand how our processes work,” Eisenschenk says. “The onboarding of new management and of our salespeople is much faster.”
Salespeople also have access to each set of work instructions, which enables them to answer specific customer questions about the company’s production, assembly and finishing processes.
For other companies considering ISO certifications, Eisenschenk recommends forming a project team of leaders from each department, with support in place to free up their time for the project.
“It seems unfair because these people are often the busiest, but they are the drivers in their departments,” she says. “It is so critical to have a group that can stay energized and hit that end goal. These certifications are benefitting our whole company.”
For more information about RedEye On Demand, visit www.redeyeondemand.com.
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