A Case Study in Industrial Aesthetics
The merging of “pretty” and “industrial” are a rare occurrence. There is a mindset that if something is to be “tough” or commercial or industrialized the aesthetics don’t matter. Function over fashion. That is a theory as passe as pin curls. Attention to detail is an indicator of quality in design and performance. It breeds confidence in the potential customer that your product has been more thoughtfully developed and produced. It is a selling point that has been overlooked for way too long and an added value to your customer. Let’s take a closer look at a case study in industrial aesthetics.
Since 2008 Autac Incorporated has been manufacturing custom wire for a particular customer. The cords are used for industrial controls on machines the client manufactures. In 2017 Autac had an opportunity to put several new sets of eyes on their custom accounts and this item jumped out at the design and sales teams. “For the first time in our 70 years in business Autac has an all female cast in the front of the house” observes CEO Marie-Louise Burkle. “We were sitting as a group looking at this product and all of us opined on the dullness, the lack of color, the texture of the wire and agreed that we could and desperately wanted to make it prettier” she laughs. A call was placed to the customer to seek permission to make the changes. “I was convinced I would be hung up on or laughed at but they were jazzed about improving the look of the wire. And this cord is used in coal fired power plants! Now we are working with the customer to add other features like soil inhibitor and glow-in-the-dark properties in the jacket compound. Our attention to the detail of the aesthetics inspired a conversation with our client to look at the WHOLE design.”
Marie-Louise compares her sales and design team at Autac Incorporated to the staff at a Four-Star restaurant. “The front of the house needs to engage the customer, find out what their true needs are and meet or exceed those needs. We have to “sell up” just like wait staff and our design and production people or the back of the house are there to create the one of a kind, over the top item that fulfills those expectations. That’s how you bring customers back time and again.”
Working from that analogy we know that “Fusion” has been all the rage in the food service world for some time now. Autac Incorporated has taken that concept and brought it to wire and cable, merging function and fashion. “At some point someone created dessert sushi, 2 things that seem worlds apart. We have done the same for industrial aesthetics, merging pretty with tough.”
So next time you’re designing that dull, boring wire and cable; stop. Look at the detail. What can you do to improve the operation AND the appearance??? Could you add value not only to the performance but to the style. Set yourself and your customer apart. Fuse fashion and function. Consider industrial aesthetics in the development process and sell that added value. Change the world one “pretty” commodity at a time.
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