Today, We’d Like to Talk to You About Our New Initiative: Formaspace 5.0 Built-To-Order Catalog Furniture
We’ve been rolling this out slowly over the past few months as part of a soft launch and we’ve gotten some very positive feedback from our customers. Now it’s time to spread the word. What’s different about the new offering? Well, the number 5.0 is significant. The 5.0 in Formaspace 5.0 signifies two things. First, it represents our fifth generation of built-to-order workbench designs. The second significance of 5.0 is that our new generation of built-to-order workbenches are shipped from our factory in only 5 business days (restrictions apply) from the time you place your order — making them a perfect solution where time is of the essence.
To Learn More, We Interviewed with Greg Casey, Formaspace V.P. of Design and Engineering
Greg Casey has been with us since May 2013. He’s got furniture manufacturing in his blood: Greg held the position of director of product engineering for seating, systems and case goods at Kimball Office, the highly respected manufacturer of contract office seating furniture headquartered in Jasper, Indiana. Greg’s 25 years of furniture production experience at Kimball, which services large enterprise customers, has proved very valuable here at Formaspace as we continue to grow.
Q: What’s the Thinking Behind Formaspace 5.0?
Greg Casey responds: Well, quite a lot to be honest! We’ve been working hard on this program for nearly two years, since I first arrived at Formaspace in fact. First off, I’d like to explain the difference between fully custom and semi-custom. When we ask Formaspace customers what comes to mind when they think about our products, they usually respond Custom Workbench Furniture, American Made, Best Guarantee and High Quality. We’ve become very well known for making fully custom furniture, and we will continue to aggressively pursue the fully custom furniture market. But as we’ve grown, we’ve talked to customers and found that in many situations, customers want our high-quality products with the famous 12 year guarantee — but they don’t have time to wait weeks for a custom product to be designed, built and shipped. These customers want built-to-order furniture shipped out in 5 days, not three weeks.
Q: I Recall From a Previous Interview that You Were a Fan of Lean Manufacturing Techniques? Is this Part of Formaspace 5.0?
Lean manufacturing has a lot of definitions; it can mean many things to different people. But what’s key for the Formaspace 5.0 program is simple: we have become relentless in making our design choices and manufacturing processes more efficient. To be honest, sometimes when people hear that something has been redesigned to be more efficient — they automatically think the quality will be less, but that’s not true: our new Formaspace 5.0 products are the highest quality products we’ve built and they are well worthy of our 12 year, 3 shift guarantee.
Q: How is it Possible to Go From Shipping 3 in Weeks to Shipping in Only 5 Days?
It’s taken a lot of resource planning, engineering and quality assurance tests to get here. Thankfully we have a great team of people, starting with the Formaspace’s CEO Jeff Turk, Mike Triche our Sales Manager, and last but not least, my internal ‘customer’ Bill Lambert, Formaspace’s Operations Manager. Over the last two years, we’ve tested and refined our designs to make them more efficient for customers to order, more efficient for us to manufacture and more efficient for our customers and technicians to install or update them in the field.
The Japanese manufacturers call this approach Kaizen (改善) which translates to Continuous Improvement. That’s a good way to describe the work we’ve done. But your question was about reducing the time from when the customer placing the order to shipping the built-to-order furniture from around three weeks down to just 5 days. There is no single answer; it’s a combination of many improvements.
Q: Can You Characterize Some of the Manufacturing Efficiencies in Formaspace 5.0 Products?
Sure. First, we’ve completely standardized all our components. This simplifies manufacturing by reducing our need to stock and handle so many different parts. This not only helps us speed up our built-to-order manufacturing process, it helps the customer as well. Here’s a great example: If a customer orders a standard workbench, which we call the Basix line, we often hear that their needs do change over time. Maybe they need to move locations and need to reconfigure their furniture, or they may want to add overhead shelving and accessories which are part of our Bench Plus and Benchmarx line.
In our new Formaspace 5.0 offering, customers can order parts from our standardized catalog and they will fit on the furniture they already have. That makes their original investment more secure and adds value to our product line. It’s the opposite of built-in obsolesce. We’re trying to build obsolesce OUT of our products. You don’t hear that news everyday!
Q: This might even have a LEED Certification benefit when adding on to a facility or moving to a new one.
Absolutely. Let’s say you order 50 Basix workbenches for a facility today. If you move or expand to a new facility, the modular design of the Formaspace 5.0 furniture makes it simple to take it apart and use it again in a different facility. You can talk to your LEED consultant and learn how to apply for recycling credits. And, because the workbenches are user upgradeable, you can simply order additional components from us here at the factory — this means you can install more shelves, overhead lighting, under-shelf cabinets and so on by ordering them from our standard Formaspace 5.0 catalog.
Q: How do customers order the Formaspace 5.0 products?
Earlier I mentioned we have been conducting a soft launch of the product line. It’s been very successful – in fact we are doing a major installation this week so I hope to share some pictures in the next week or two. I encourage our customers to view our new catalog (PDF file, opens in a new window) and see what’s available. To make it easy to order, we have also added many (but not all) of the Formaspace 5.0 furniture to our “Quick Ship” online product configurator. We’re working to expand this online shopping tool. It’s pretty neat: as you answer the questions about which features you want, the product photo updates and you can keep track of the price.
Q: What if Customers Have Special Requests or Don’t See What They Want On the Website Configurator?
I’d recommend you study the Formaspace 5.0 Standard Catalog Products PDF and look over our numerous combinations of shelves, accessories and paint colors. Then you can give one of our furniture consultants a call at 800-251-1505 (or 512-279-2577 if you are calling outside the USA.) If you want something fully custom, we can help you there too; it just might take more than 5 business days to build your order.
Q: Is Everything Manufactured in the USA?
In the main, it is. We build the furniture here in our factory headquarters in Austin, Texas. When you call one of our furniture consultants, they are here on site in the front part of our building — just steps away from my office and the factory floor. Communicating with us is no problem! There are a few accessories that are sourced from outside the USA but we guarantee them just the same.
Q: What About the 12 Year, 3 Shift Guarantee? Does it Apply to Formaspace 5.0 Products?
You bet it does. That’s something we are very proud of and it really distinguishes our products from our competitors.
Q: Finally, What About Loading Capacity? Are These Products as Strong as Your Fully Custom Furniture?
Yes, just like our fully custom furniture you can load our built-to-order Formaspace 5.0 furniture with up to 1,000 pounds of weight as long as it’s evenly distributed across the surface. If you need to carry more weight, you can order Heavy Duty construction, which increases the size of the square steel tubing from 1.5 inches to 2 inches.
Formaspace Wants to Help
Formaspace is here to help.
We invite you to join the roster of satisfied Formaspace technical, manufacturing and laboratory furniture clients — including Apple Computer, Boeing, Dell, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobile, Ford, General Electric, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, NASA, Novartis, Stanford University, Toyota and more.
Give us a call today at 800.251.1505 to find out more about the Formaspace line of built-to-order computer workstations, industrial workbenches, laboratory furniture, lab benches and dry lab/wet labs — as well as our design / furniture consulting services. Like all Formaspace furniture, it’s backed by our famous 12 year, three shift guarantee.