Inventor-e, which employs 24 people at its Headquarters in Solihull, has tapped into the design and production capability of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN) to be first to market with iVendScale and iBinScale.

The solutions provide a scale-based inventory management vending system and mobile automated replenishment to help boost productivity at factories across the world.

In order to meet rapid demand for its products, the company turned to MAN member company PP Control & Automation (PPC&A) to manage the design for manufacture and build, a decision that is already paying dividends with a secure supply chain in place to support thousands of units every year.

“Our high-tech applications offer connectivity and data solutions that provide remote inventory information services in real time and are already being used by a host of major global organisations, including Babcock, Boeing, Rexel and Wolseley,” explained Dean Henry, founder of Inventor-e.

“We recognised early on that our core strength lay in the design and constant evolution of products and solutions and that the manufacture and assembly of our systems should be outsourced to a partner that could grow with us as we expand.”

He continued: “This journey led to us appointing PPC&A to support the build of our first products in SmartStores Secure and iVendcab, which proved to us that this was the right approach and paved the way for our latest launches.

“We’ve just placed iVendScale into its first industrial location with Mitsubishi and the pipeline of orders suggest we’ll be hitting £5m next year, impossible without the right outsourcing solution in place.”

Fresh from the initial success, Cheslyn Hay-based PP Control & Automation was invited to take on full supply chain management for the iVendScale and iBinScale and, following a constant review of performance and capabilities, introduced fellow MAN members C-MAC SMT to satisfy all the Printed Circuit Board Assemblies requirements and Grove Design.

The latter, an experienced engineering design consultancy, was invited to support prototyping and explore ways where it could make the systems robust whilst keeping the costs competitive.

It reverse engineered the current products and this revealed several design improvements that could be made to improve both the speed of manufacture and the performance of the solutions.

Tony Hague, CEO of PP C&A, went on to add: “Our role is to create the supply chain and the production line to ensure we can scale-up rapidly for Inventor-e’s existing solutions and its increasing range of new products.

“Our mechanical and assembly experience helped us shave days off the lead time on all of the products and, by working together, we have been able to optimise costs through design for manufacture to help the client achieve the elusive ‘price points’ it requires.

“This is a fantastic example of the power of MAN and how the group’s collective engineering expertise can help bring new technology to market quickly and within budget.”

Inventor-e’s Dean Henry concluded: “Interest in our vending technology is huge and we’ve now signed exclusive partnership deals with Rexel and Wolseley, as well as a working arrangement with Arco. This means volumes could increase rapidly and I’m confident we have the supply chain and manufacturing partners in place to meet this demand when it happens.

“The MAN Group has become a critical partner for us, from our initial engagement with PP Control & Automation to getting Grove involved in design and adding C-MAC SMT’s electronic expertise to projects. It’s a truly domestic effort in taking UK technology global.”

If growth plans are achieved, Inventor-e should create a further 20 jobs directly and a further 60 in the supply chain.