The Groundsman

May 2012

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the Groundsman May 2012 FEATURE 35 Back to the future for Trilo owners Colin Hoskins travelled to Holland, to the Trilo manufacturing plant, and discovered how some modern manufacturing thinking is not only bringing continued benefits to an established product range but is also set to build on that success The lean processes will be driven by Leo who, even at 34 years of age, has considerable experience in the methodology: for example, he has successfully introduced lean techniques at Steiner mowers (Schiller Grounds Care Inc) in North America. The current Trilo offering is underpinned by the extensive use of standard parts, wherever possible, and a comprehensive Euro 3 million of built- for-stock product ready for immediate delivery. Any company that has achieved a 12 per cent rise in turnover during the past year – and is confidentially forecasting a 16 per cent hike this year – must be doing something right. But the recent success story of Holland-based Trilo, which is projecting an annual turnover of Euro 20 million within six years from its current level of Euro 8.5 million, is clear evidence that this groundscare machinery and equipment manufacturer must be doing everything correctly! Today, a concerted period of 'product re- think and redesign' is currently combining with the introduction of modern manufacturing strategies to enable the introduction of even more competitively- priced products (blowers, verticutters, vacuum units/vacuum sweepers and flail mowers), thanks to clever and attractive redesigns that, crucially, retain the product build quality ethos of rigidness and reliability. "We have to reduce prices to remain competitive, says Peter van Mispelaar - who is Trilo's joint owner with Leo van Loen – "and we can't do that with our existing product range, as it is, and with our existing manufacturing processes. We have to redesign products, where appropriate, to reduce unit costs and we have to change/re-organise our manufacturing processes so that production is more efficient." Both Peter and Leo are steadfast in the view that reduced cost price and high-quality build should be at the heart of the Trilo philosophy. Not only through some fresh-thinking design iterations, which include the views of the in-house production and assembly staff, but also via input from key distributors and predominantly the UK- based, Grass Group. The modern-day approach extends through the use of sophisticated SolidWorks computer-aided design and test routines before any metal is cut and assembled. The new approach also centres on changes to their traditional production methods - for example, the use of the more accurate laser- rather than flame- cut sheet metalwork parts, and by bolting together certain components rather than welding them. The next phase of the Trilo's 'change for the better' will see the steady introduction of 'lean' manufacturing processes. Lean manufacturing is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination – and the strategy is expected to increase output by up to 33 per cent! In the UK, at least, the most popular Trilo product is the 400 universal sweeper which, in its new guise after a redesign as the S4, is now £6,000 cheaper than its predecessor – a factor that will undoubtedly keep it at the top of the Grass Group clients' popularity charts. Trilo's 960 blower has undergone similar treatment, and in its new B7 branding will offer similar, relative price reductions - the VCU240 verticutter and the C15 flail/scarifier collector likewise. "We haven't raised our prices since we started our ownership three years ago," says 44-year-old Peter who with Leo retrieved the company from receivership. "With 50 employees, we now enjoy sales into 26 countries [the UK market is Trilo's strongest export market] and our target is to reach Euro 20 million by 2018." It's ambitious talk from two young men who have interesting links with the company; Leo is the grandson of the founder; and Peter formerly worked on the shopfloor – so, it's certainly a case of 'back to the future' for Trilo! And judging by the evidence so far, who would doubt them?

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