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Sue Witkowski

Fresh ideas. Innovative design.

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager


12th Dec 2014


This is the title of Accuride’s latest video.

It tells the story of how our product development teams create new ideas and then take them from the drawing board to prototype testing and beyond to a selection of very different applications and markets.

A companion brochure has also been published in English and German. Email us with your details to receive a copy.

marketingeurope@accuride.com


20th Nov 2014


Small improvements to an existing product can sometimes be as useful to the market as introducing a completely new product.

Just look at the 3832 drawer slide.

The 3832 has been around for many years and can be found across the world in many applications. Accuride’s continual re-invention of the slide has made it a best seller, and probably the most copied.

This versatile slide is what most cabinet makers would consider a ‘standard’. It has a 12.7mm thickness (½ inch), is compatible with both 32mm and traditional hole patterns, and can take loads up to 45kg, making it a good all-rounder for cabinet drawers where a side mounted slide is needed.

Breathing tabs

The first development was the addition of breathing tabs on the cabinet member. These seem pretty ordinary now, but this was an important first step in the evolution of the 3832.

The space between the cabinet and drawer is critical when fitting slides. This need for precision can make life difficult for woodworkers. So some of the fixing holes are located on a ‘breathing tab’; a small tongue of metal with a U slot around it. Because of the slot, the tip of the tongue can bend a bit out of the plane of the rest of the metal. That is, the cabinet member can pull away from the cabinet wall, just a little, to help absorb those tricky tolerances.

Disconnect

All 3832 slides include an integral quick release lever so that the user can separate the slide into the cabinet and drawer member.

This feature has two distinct advantages. The first is for the fitter. Being able to separate the parts of the slide and fit them individually onto the cabinet chassis and drawer makes the job a simple one.

Secondly, once installed, the disconnect lever is used to take the drawer out of the cabinet and put it back again without the need for tools; perhaps a benefit for the user rather than the cabinet maker.

If you are looking for user-friendly improvement, then the introduction of the cam adjuster is a perfect example.

The Cam Drawer Adjust offers installers a simple, yet precise mechanism for vertical drawer adjustment. The cam mechanism alters the vertical position of drawers by up to 4.8mm and is located at the front of the slide for easy access. It’s as simple as inserting a screwdriver and turning the mechanism to the left or right to provide the proper adjustment.

Detents are methods of holding a slide in or out without locking them.

This may seem rather simple, but it is important that the slides are held in position – you don’t want the drawers bouncing open once closed and all 3832 slides have hold-in.

Hold-out (3832DO)

The hold-out is equally important for applications such as pull out keyboard shelves, when you would need it to stay open during use.

Soft-close (3832EC)

A dampened, soft-closing drawer just feels good and this one is side mounted, rather than the usual under-mount slide used in kitchen drawers.

Self-closing (3832SC/HDSC)

Our self-closing slides ensure drawers come to a close and stay closed, keeping things looking neat and tidy. There are two options; a standard self-close and a heavier duty version, which is ideal for mobile applications such as trolley drawers.

Touch-release (3832TR/HDTR)

If you like the look of simple, clean drawer fronts or need to design for those who have difficulty grasping knobs or handles, then our touch-release products are the answer. A gentle press on the drawer front releases the drawer and propels it outward about 45mm.

Clip on brackets

More fitting options are available through the use of clip on brackets, allowing both bottom and platform mounting. These can be fitted to the standard 3832 plus DO and SC/HDSC versions from length 35cm.

3832 finish options

Zinc White Black
3832 & 3832DH 3832 3832
3832DO
3832SC 3832SC 3832SC
3832HDSC
3832TR 3832TR 3832TR
3832HDTR
3832EC 3832EC
3832EL
Brackets 633xx Brackets 633xx Brackets 633xx

Sue Witkowski

Training for successful sales

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager


24th Mar 2014


It seems obvious that if you want someone to sell your product then you must give them the tools with which to do it.

Accuride’s distribution network covers all of Europe and employs well over 1,000 sales representatives on our behalf. We want our customers to buy the correct slide for their project, so keeping our distributors up to date with our products is vital. They need to be able to understand our products and be able to specify them into a huge variety of markets and applications.

One-off training just won’t do. We are always introducing new products and discovering new markets so we need to be training continually.

We make certain that our distributors are experts on our product line and that the end customers have full confidence in them.

It is not only front line sales who need in-depth knowledge about Accuride and our products. The distributor telesales and customer services staff are also included in training sessions.

Accuride’s regional sales managers all take direct responsibility for training their own distributors. This strengthens the relationships between the staff on both sides. We will go to their premises and organise hands-on training, which will be tailored depending on the expertise and job function of the group.

Product training is just one part of Accuride’s sales success, but we think it’s an important one.

Some tips for successful training

The follow can be applied to most product training. I hope that you find it helpful.

  • Adult learners gain through two-way communication - encourage discussion through interactive sessions such as case studies and role-playing.
  • Adults learn what they see as useful to them in their situation and that are related to problems they face daily - make the content and materials relevant
  • Use their experiences as part of the sessions – this will encourage them to be involved
  • Adults are likely to have fixed points of view that can make them closed to new ways of thinking; get discussions going between you and the group and within the group
  • Make the surroundings comfortable and informal to put everyone at their ease. You should be well prepared and relaxed

Using slide presentations

Although slide shows can be useful, don’t be a slave to the screen.

Your audience cannot listen to you, look at a sample and read the slide at the same time. Add blank slides where you think you may stop to look at samples or discuss an issue or invite examples from the floor. PowerPoint is ideal for showing pictures and creating a lesson structure, but can also be boring for an audience.

Consider using flip charts for more interactive sessions.

Using training aids and hand-outs

  • Don’t have too much on the desk or on show
  • Keep the product hidden or use cloths to keep items covered during introductions
  • Only introduce items that are relevant to that session
  • Don’t pass around a product sample and continue to talk; make a statement – pass around the examples and encourage the group to discuss it. Once the discussions have come to an end, make a statement or ask a closed question to conclude the point and remove the sample from view. You can then move on
  • Hand-outs should be given at the end of a session, unless you are referring directly to them
  • Catalogues -the only time that you use these during training is when referring directly to them – make sure that the whole class is looking at the correct page.

Case studies

Use case studies from their experiences. You may find that they already have some problems or queries that you can use in class as a group discussion to find the solution.

You can also make some up to illustrate particular points and introduce role playing if you think that it will be useful and welcome. Have some case studies or application problems ready for the class to discuss.

How do I know if the training is successful?

Be clear about the objective and make sure that every point made leads to that objective.

Be clear, precise and get confirmation that each point has been understood by the group. If the session is a series of building blocks then ensure that each block is understood before moving on. Use questioning, discussion, case studies and working examples to check understanding.

Questioning is the most usual way of checking on understanding. An ‘open’ question calls for an answer which draws on experience, knowledge and judgement – often beyond the confines of the class.

When training, you need to get the audience interested and involved, so make sure that you use every opportunity to get their opinion or experience by using conversation starters or open questions.

Be sure that you know why you are asking questions (does the question meet the lesson objective?), know the answers, be sure that the students’ ideas will not be dismissed and that you can control any ensuing discussions.

You may wish to use a questionnaire to find out if your audience has found your training useful.

Lesson plans

  • Be aware of the group you are training and plan appropriately
  • Think about your objective for each session
  • Write it down in one clear sentence. This will stop you from trying to do too much and will keep your plan to the point
  • Think about the method you will use to teach this subject. For example, do you need to do a re-cap on any points prior to the main session? Consider the type of discussions you want to develop and make sure that you have the application examples ready
  • Collect together the training aids, e.g. samples, hand-outs, catalogues
  • What audio visual equipment do you need?

Summary

1. Understand your audience
Assess your audience; group size, interest and level of knowledge. Agree with your customer beforehand what result(s) you need to achieve at the end of the session.

2. Prepare the content
Structure the key messages, pulling together the relevant information. Decide on the correct visual aids, hand-outs and demo units to put across the information.

3. Create the right environment
Get the location right and be well prepared to present in that location.

4. Work on your performance
Identify what your personal style/strengths are. Understand how to build rapport with your audience. Work on voice projection and handling questions.

Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway, freerangestock.com


4th Mar 2014


Since launching the very popular linear track with recirculating ball carriage (DA0115RC), we have received a few questions about fixing the carriage to panels.

This product has proved to have many different types of applications, so we asked our engineering department for a couple of options depending on the panel thickness.

Each carriage has 2 x M5 studs and the two options illustrated show the use of a connector bolt and a Nyloc nut. These are freely available and can be bought from your own fastening supplier.

Please email your technical questions to marketingeurope@accuride.com.

Helle Kinning

Intelligent lifestyle solutions: Häfele Functionality

Author: Helle Kinning, Marketing and distribution support specialist


2nd Jan 2014


Accuride seized the opportunity to have a brief chat with Mr José Lorca at the Häfele Head Office in Nagold, Germany. Mr Lorca is the Head of Product Management.

There’s a lot of talk in the B2B sector about Social Media and how it could be used beneficially – the same as in the B2C market. What is Häfele's take on that matter? Do you use it to communicate with your existing and new clients; how do you keep control of messages across the world and what do you get out of it?

Häfele already started with the "Easy-Link" web-shop in the 90s, which was quite new in those days for the B2B market.

Social Media is a megatrend and of course also offers great potential for Häfele.

We see our profiles in social networks as a way to expand our service and to talk to both new and existing customers.

The Häfele organizations around the world use Social Media and we can listen and react to our customer’s needs wherever they are.

Has Häfele seen any new business opportunities during the recent recession and how have you benefitted?

This has been a difficult time for people.

But those who have some savings would rather invest it in something lasting, something they can use in their everyday life, rather than sit and wait and see what’s going happen.

So they decided to spend their money on a new kitchen installation, for example, or perhaps added an extension to their house

What are the new emerging furniture/house/building trends & designs in Germany? How does Häfele respond to them; do they follow the trends or even create completely new ones? Do they have special research/new product development teams?

The trend for the past four to five years has been to combine various aspects of living space, for example, the kitchen and living room.

There has been a social change - life is more combined if you know what I mean. People work from home so they want to have a practical office that could turn into a living space or a bedroom.

At the same time, space gets more and more expensive. People are moving from villages to towns where space is also limited, so we can offer very smart and compact design solutions for every home. For example, your office desk can be turned into a bed in just a few seconds!

I would definitely say that we create the trends and not just follow them.

The turning point was Interzum 2007 when we started showing our products in lifestyle environments. We built real-life scenarios of a bedroom or kitchen where all the components were cleverly displayed. People came to our stand and found it easy to imagine how it could look in their own homes. We started offering not just a product but intelligent lifestyle solutions. We named it Häfele Functionality.

Häfele has its own product development teams and factories. We celebrate our 90th anniversary this year and have reached a 1 billion Euro turnover worldwide.

What is your favourite innovation from Häfele and why?

Oh, there are so many of them!

I think one of them has to be this office desk that magically turns into a bed, also our new swing up lift fitting ‘Free flap’.

You really need to visit our exhibition stands to see the concepts for yourself. These are all actually very simple and easy-to-install systems - but often the smartest things in life are simple!

Are there any completely new markets opening up that Häfele would like to get involved in?

Definitely Eastern Europe, India, China and Turkey. All these markets are rapidly growing and offering opportunities too good to miss.

So far, I would say our Dialock electronic lock system has opened new markets for us where we weren't involved before.

What is your strategy to protect good quality products like yours from the onslaught of cheap competition from the Far East?

EU legislation, which issues laws for certain quality standards and product life guarantees, supports to maintain quality standards.

But companies need to be savvy and astute. We obviously patent our innovations and invest in development. You always need to stay a few steps ahead of your competition for survival.

Brand name and what it stands for really counts. Customers want to feel safe when they purchase and have trust in the company they are buying from. We are also careful when we select our business partners and suppliers, such as Accuride.

Are there any new laws coming into force that Häfele could take advantage of?

From 1st July, you need to certify that your architectural products are fulfilling the EU standards* and that you follow them.

Manufacturing companies have to make a declaration of performance for the end user, which assures the quality standard.

In your role, what are your aims and objectives for Häfele?

I have been with Häfele for many years now. I enjoy being an innovator and to push innovations. My motivation is to see happy customers and to contribute to better solutions for furniture fittings and architectural hardware. (big smile)


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*Construction products regulation EU No. 305/2011.

What.How.When.

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Our 'What.How.When' guide to ball bearing slides is everything you need.

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