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Automated industrial equipment design and manufacturing
- Creation: 2007
- Number of employees: 24
- Target Markets: Automotive // Manufacturing
Milan Conception hit the ground running: in 2008, after one year of R&D, this Sherbrooke company launched its first product, which revolutionized the automotive weather-strip industry – the insert clip machine (ICM). It operates five times more quickly, is more accurate, uses less raw material, and produces less waste than the competition.
Eight years later, the momentum of co-founders Steeve Michaud and Benoit Langlois – from which the company’s name was inspired – continues: they are predicting another revolution through products currently being developed, this time in the world of cutting.
The managers and their team are clearly driven by ingenuity and proactivity not only to meet and, indeed, exceed their clients’ expectations, but also to create a demand with new equipment.
“Challenges and a desire to always do better motivate us and lead us to new technical feats every time. It is often said that, at Milan, we don’t have an R&D department but rather a D&D (discovery and development) department; we don’t research, we discover!” remarked the two co-founders.
Five keystones for standing out
Behind every system custom-designed and custom-made by Milan Conception are five driving forces of innovation: speed, accuracy, flexibility, versatility, and reliability. “With these factors in mind, we seek to establish new standards for productivity, as we did with our high-speed technology, patented – in the United States, Canada, and with patent pending in the European Union – and incorporated into the ICM.”
This great engineering marvel has the ability to insert a clip in a rubber extrusion in less than half a second – a world first! The ICM also automatically adapts to variations in extrusion profile and length, thanks to a high-precision camera. In addition, it is capable of executing different programs within a few minutes, with a minimum of adjustments – a major competitive advantage for clients who are thus able to produce orders for different car models using a single machine.
In addition to its focus on performance, Milan Conception incorporated the maintenance component of its machines early on. “It is our goal to attain a final product requiring very little preventive maintenance, and to enable such operations, when necessary, to be performed quickly and easily. We therefore design our machines from an open mechanical engineering perspective,” noted company President Steeve Michaud.
From the start, this Sherbrooke company has had a client-centred approach. “We ensure that we have an accurate understanding not only of our clients’ challenges and needs, but also of their ideas. To do so, we may go to their plant, request samples, clarify the specifications, send prototypes for testing purposes, etc. It’s vital to us to deliver a quality product, tailored to real life in the client’s plant, on time.”
To address the technical challenges presented by its clients – or reflecting its own ambitions! –, Milan Conception relies on brainstorming sessions in which all departments participate.
“Creativity among employees is encouraged, and they are given the latitude to express it, which is a motivating factor. Each person has his or her own specialization and thus sees different, yet complementary ways of innovating. During these meetings, at times formal but often impromptu, all ideas are welcome, the comments are constructive, and, best of all, we always obtain great results,” stressed General Manager Benoit Langlois.
The Milan Conception innovation track continues into the engineering department, with the mechanical and electrical designs. All of the subsequent steps – the manufacturing of and assembly of parts, machine programing and start-up – are carried out in the 6400 ft.2 plant adjacent to the office space.
The average timeframe required for delivery of an automated system ranges from 16 to 22 weeks, depending on the options selected. In line with its all-inclusive customer service philosophy, Milan Conception takes care of the installation, start-up, and any potential adjustments at the client’s site. The client’s technical employees are trained during this process, lasting about a week. Milan Conception’s after-sales service then takes over the file as needed.
In addition to the ICM and a semi-automatic version, Milan Conception manufactures a range of automated equipment for cutting, drilling, automatic coiling, mastic foam application, push pin clip insertion, and notching, 85% of which are destined for the automotive industry.
The Sherbrooke-based company is also innovating in other industrial sectors. For example, it recently worked with Black & Decker to optimize one of its devices by introducing a process that enables laboratory tasks to be carried out 10 times more quickly.
Thanks to its international sales force, headed by Sales Engineer Cyriaque Eyquem, Milan Conception exports 90% of its automated systems to a dozen countries, primarily in Europe, China, Brazil, and Mexico. In our region, its client list includes BRP and Gurit, in particular.
To attest to their quality and compliance worldwide, Milan Conception products have CSA (Canadian Standards Association), UL (Underwriters Laboratories), and CE certification.
Launched at the height of the economic crisis, Milan Conception has steered a steady course, in particular due to the spirit of innovation of its team and its international clientele. “Every year is better than the last in terms of sales revenue,” the two entrepreneurs were pleased to state. “And our next products, expected to be launched sometime in 2016, will undoubtedly fuel further growth.”
Located on Portland Boulevard in the Regional Industrial Park since 2013, Milan Conception plans to expand its facilities, which currently cover an area of 8500 ft.2, by 2017.
To support and better structure its growth, the company recently implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and will invest $350 000 in new equipment to increase its productivity in the coming months. The team of is also expected to expand, with the forthcoming creation of four new positions.
4280 de Portland Blvd, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1L 0A3 Canada
+1 819 864-0562
Photo credit: Sherbrooke Innopole and Milan Conception
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