Bimba Manufacturing's 'Cornerstone' Cylinder Gets a Refresh
Author(s): Bob King
Jul. 10, 2013
They say that good things come to those who wait.
That's certainly the case with the improved version of Bimba Manufacturing Co.'s Original Line cylinder, which took nearly two years to develop.
"Our value-proposition 'deliverable' was to more than double the catalog life rating on the cylinders from 1,400 miles of travel to 3,000 miles of travel," explains Jerry Scherzinger, product marketing manager for University Park, Ill.-based Bimba Manufacturing.
Bimba's product-development team "entered the development phase with some very good ideas on how to do this," Scherzinger adds. But performance testing isn't always a speedy process-especially when you're waiting to see if a cylinder can accumulate 3,000 linear miles of travel, one 4- to 6-inch stroke at a time.
"Fortunately, good planning upfront minimized the number of design iterations, because each time the design changed, we were required to restart our testing," Scherzinger says.
NED: What motivated Bimba to develop these products?
JS: Our Original Line cylinder has been the cornerstone of our company for over 50 years. Over that time, we established and continue to maintain a dominant market share in round-line, non-repairable pneumatic cylinders.
Bimba is committed to continuous improvement in all facets of our business. Therefore, we recognized an opportunity here in our largest product line to solidify our market-leadership position by applying those principles to our Original Line.
With this goal in mind, we looked at what improvements would offer the greatest value proposition to our customers. We rather quickly came to the conclusion that extending the life expectancy of our non-repairable cylinders would have the greatest impact on value to our customers.
NED: How is this cylinder different from similar ones on the market today?
JS: Our Original Line has two primary advantages over similar products.
Our Blue and Improved design has the greatest published life rating (3,000 miles of travel) in the industry.
Additionally, our breadth within this product line is the widest in the industry, as we offer more options in more bore sizes than any of our competitors.
NED: What problems needed to be addressed during the development process?
JS: Our biggest challenge was the time it takes to test the product.
Our value-proposition "deliverable" was to more than double the catalog life rating on the cylinders from 1,400 miles of travel to 3,000 miles of travel.
While we entered the development phase with some very good ideas on how to do this, it was very important that we minimize the design iterations because of the time that it takes for a cylinder to accumulate 3,000 linear miles of travel, one 4- to 6-inch stroke at a time.
Therefore, careful controls of our testing variables and a well-thought-out plan prior to entering the test phase were critical to reducing our time to market.
Even with this knowledge going into the project, several design iterations were required, which added to the testing phase of the project. Final product testing took almost two years (642 days) from start to finish.
NED: How long did it take from conception to ultimate production?
JS: Much of this time was spent early in the project on researching the required design modifications and also in the testing phase of the project.
Fortunately, good planning upfront minimized the number of design iterations, because each time the design changed, we were required to restart our testing.
Even with this good planning, the project duration was over three years from initial concept to final production.
NED: What effect did cost factors have in changing the final design of the product?
JS: Our primary project goal was to offer an improved product at no additional cost to our customers. We were able to achieve this by closely monitoring our costs of the proposed design modifications throughout the project.
So while cost did not play a role in the final design, careful cost analysis was crucial to the overall success of the project.
NED: Who is your target audience and what benefits will they achieve from using this product?
JS: Our Original Line products sell into every market we participate in.
Our customer base is broken into two segments, best defined as end users (MRO) and machine builders (OEM).
Virtually every end user will find value in a non-repairable cylinder that operates for a longer period of time because they will experience less downtime for repairs. Additionally, their cost to replace cylinders will diminish based on our longer lasting product.
Machine builders that purchase our cylinders for use on the equipment they sell into their own markets also will find benefits in our Blue and Improved design. They will take advantage of our longer-lasting cylinders by touting lower total cost of ownership and less downtime for maintenance to their customers.