When you mention “construction blocks for children”, the brand Lego® immediately comes into mind. But what if you are a Danish company in the same market segment who invented a revolutionary construction toy, one that is simple yet brilliant, with unparalleled flexibility? How do you compete with the “big guys”? And, while doing it, how do you grow 600% in a mere 6 years?
By doing everything perfect, of course – perfect design, perfect product, perfect quality, perfect cost control. And, just as important, a perfect partner-in-arms.
Plus Plus AG, based in Denmark, is one such company. They are producer of the popular, patented construction toy – the creative “Plus Plus Brick” – and won the prestigious Gazelle Prize of 2015 as one of Denmark’s fastest growing companies. A “gazelle” company in Denmark, Sweden and Norway is usually a high-growth company that has profitably doubled its revenues over a four-year period. They are very prestigious and respected.
Other awards won by Plus Plus AG are too numerous to list; they include the Canadian Toy Report Children’s Choice 2014, Toy Stores of Canada Gold Star Award 2013, Most Popular New Product at Ed Expo USA 2013, USA Toy of the Week 2012 and Kid’s Biz Fair Warsaw Best Product Award 2012. Today, “Plus Plus Bricks” are produced exclusively in Denmark and sold in over 33 countries around the world.
There is ever only one “Plus Plus Brick” – albeit in a wide variety of colours. Manufacturing each brick that is the same shape over and over, however, is a complicated matter, as every single piece must be perfectly formed, in the exact right dimensions. That is because pieces of “Plus Plus Brick” must fit with each other tightly and securely, while at the same time being easy to break up and start over. Dimensional stability of the product is critical to its success and, since production is around-the-clock due to heavy demand, demands on the manufacturing equipment’s precision, repeatability, stability and reliability are also very high.
As it comes to such equipment, Plus Plus AG turned to APM Denmark, a veteran in the plastic injection moulding industry with decades of experience and process knowledge – arguably the most experienced and technically capable team in the whole of Denmark. APM was able to supply them with Chen Hsong EASYMASTER injection molding machines that fitted their requirements like a glove.
Due to ever-increasing production needs, the machines work 24×7, essentially unattended, day in and day out, churning out sets after sets of “Plus Plus Bricks.” Each piece is produced to Plus Plus AG’s strict quality standards, repeatedly, with no fuss.
Starting from 2010, Plus Plus AG progressively added more EASYMASTER’s as their business exploded by more than 40% per year, and they are on track to run a full 26 sets by the end of 2016. Most of these machines are of the EASYMASTER SVP/2 and SVP/3 servo-driven, high-precision, energy-saving, high-performance series, in the 150-180-ton range.
“We are very, very glad to own the Chen Hsong EASYMASTER machines. They are simple to operate, perform perfectly, low maintenance and, with robotics, work virtually unattended. Our reject rate is so low as to be negligible, which surprised me from the beginning. I would have spent a lot more on premium European brands and to run them that would have essentially given me the exact same productivity. Because of this, and because the Chen Hsong machines are much more energy-efficient than other brands, my cost position is very competitive,” says the owner of Plus Plus AG, who declined to be named.
APM, ever the professionals, helped Plus Plus AG design and run a preventive maintenance program to make sure their machines have optimal up-time. This includes regular daily, monthly and quarterly routine inspection, as well as the necessary maintenance tasks such cleaning, lubrication, filter changes etc. As a result, even scheduled down-time is kept to a bare minimum of below 2% for all the machines, after 30,000+ hours of production!
Perhaps that’s why APM, official distributor of Chen Hsong in Denmark, has been awarded the “Outstanding Achievement Award” by The Chen Hsong Group for being by-far the largest importer of Asian-produced injection moulding machines in Denmark in 2015, with a very high market share.