Production process as added value
The relationship between Zierikzee-based Bever Innovations and two sheltered workplaces in the Southwestern part of The Netherlands is based on much more than one-sided charity. Bever Innovations designs and develops high-quality intelligent LED solutions for fuel stations all around the world. Employees at these social organisations help to enhance the reputation of these LED products by taking great care when assembling them.
Employees from Dethon (Terneuzen-based) and Orionis (Vlissingen-based) assemble the units “accurately and in excellent conditions within high-quality production facilities”. These are the words of Bever Innovations’ Benelux commercial director, Hugo Jongebreur. The workplace in Vlissingen works on components, while that in Terneuzen helps to assemble the complete end product. Bever Innovations, Orionis and Dethon have been working together since 2004. Although Dethon has various clients, Bever is among an elite club for long-term partners. “We understand each other perfectly”, says Jongebreur.
According to Jacco de Ronde, the long standing relationship between Bever and Dethon is “so special because we understand each other’s strengths”. Besides being Director of Operations, De Ronde is also co-owner of Bever Innovations. He recently worked with Jongebreur to organise a guided tour at Dethon’s workshop in Terneuzen. De Ronde likes to emphasise the mutual commitment between Bever Innovations and Dethon. He says Bever Innovations not only uses Dethon to assemble its LED products, but also involves Dethon at a very early stage when it comes to designing its future production process. “Sheltered workplaces have great value for people who, for whatever reason, have difficulties entering the regular employment market. On the one hand, they aim to offer employees a useful role in the labour process. On the other hand, they aim to give people with suitable skills the chance to work in normal employment settings. We think we can contribute to these objectives by fully or partly assigning production activities for our LED products to these social organisations.” De Ronde emphasises that the system of social employment facilities is barely encountered in countries outside the Netherlands. “The market in which Bever Innovations operates, is characterised by high-tech production facilities. But Bever has been able to create a high quality production process together with Dethon and its employees, and this kind of success is unprecedented in our business.”
As De Ronde says, another reason for establishing long-term relationships with sheltered workplaces is the opportunity to “flexibly deploy labour capacity”. “We perform a wide range of activities and always offer assignments that differ in scope. And sheltered workplaces offer us the opportunity to access labour capacity, which is needed to successfully complete assignments within the required time frame. This can be difficult to organise for regular companies. We see Dethon’s flexibility as an important factor in continuing to offer the best possible service to our clients.” De Ronde refers to this possibility as ‘part his company’s success.” He also highlights the “predictability of assignments”. “Long-term relationships with international clients allow us to regularly assign orders to sheltered workplaces. Bever Innovations purchases its own materials and always has a clear insight into stock levels. The predictability of assignments also allows Dethon to effectively make employees and equipment available in its workshop.”
Bever Innovations is not Dethon’s only client when it comes to producing high-tech systems. They also serve this section of the market for other companies from e.g. the field of telecommunications, shipping and medical equipment. Dethon Elektronica was founded to emphasise the importance of this order portfolio to the company.
Bever Innovations produces new and intelligent LED products for the petrol retail market. According to Jongebreur, working on innovative projects also requires equipment to be developed for testing the effectiveness of new systems within the production process. “Of course, such solutions need to be built from scratch. But this must be done so they are clear and easy-to-use for Dethon employees.” As a result, the whole production process is inspected, monitored and barcoded using more than fifteen interim stops. That’s how high quality products help to offer customers the reliability they desire.
Wherever technically possible, people can visit Dethon’s workshop to take a closer look at the production process for LED products. For example, circuit boards are primarily prepared in enclosed high-tech machines. This also applies to the fine elements placed on circuit boards, which help to create links between electronic components found within products. The production process takes place in various assembly departments. For each specific action, employees are able to rely on instructions and memory aids specially compiled by Bever. “Internal training courses and general instructions are used to teach and train employees how to produce and handle our LED products. And, wherever necessary, instructions are repeated and practised to make sure everyone enjoys their work”, says Jongebreur. According to De Ronde, “simply throwing products on to the market is only partly fulfilling”.
“No matter how advanced our systems are, we think it is important to add a special aspect to how our products are produced. Namely, the principle that we should not only look after ourselves, but must also try to improve possibilities for everyone else in the world.”
Translated from Dutch petrol retail magazine ‘Pompshop’ april 2017.
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