29 Nov 2006
Quality Standards(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 12,2006)
Chartrick Industries Ltd
|Chartrick Industries Ltd produces small, high-quality electronic items for the gifts and premiums sector|
Sales executive Marty Cheung says Chartrick debuted as a trading firm exporting small electronic items to Japan. "Everyone is aware of the stringent quality standards required by Japanese customers, so starting off with the Japan market helped us to not only understand the culture but also strive to achieve high quality and excellent business ethics," he says.
Chartrick soon found a market niche in thermo-forks, and later expanded to encompass electronic scales, digital timers and pedometers. "These products are now shipped worldwide, mainly as gifts and premiums," adds Cheung.
He also points out that the Chartrick approach is to couple product appeal with quality, "which means high accuracy and reliability on top of physical appeal".
To ensure maintaining the capability to deliver high-performance products, Cheung says Chartrick employs strict QA standards. "Our production target is to keep the defect rate to as low as 1%, even though our Japanese customers apply a tolerance of 2%."
To achieve such standards requires a major investment. "We have a consistent investment policy to ensure we get the most advanced technology, machinery and testing devices," says Cheung. "And we invest heavily in the technical and physical resources required to monitor quality at every stage of the production process and through to final delivery."
Cheung says that Chartrick's promise to deliver the best quality has won the firm many loyal customers. "Happily, among them is a Japanese firm that has also referred many other important buyers to us in the past 10 years. This has allowed us to grow from strength to strength and establish a firm reputation."
At present, Chartrick's monthly production capacity reaches 110,000 items at its 21,000-square-metre, 400-worker and ISO 9001-certified factory in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland.
To better control costs, quality and delivery, Chartrick produces all key upstream components in-house. "We are self-sufficient in electronic circuit design, product design, plastic injection moulding, PCB component assembly, tooling, stamping, spray painting, silk-screen printing and product assembly," says Cheung.
"Our R&D team also plays an important role in our ongoing success as our engineers frequently work closely with customers to generate satisfactory product solutions for OEM orders from Japanese customers or ODM orders that come mostly from European buyers."
The R&D department is also the company's think-tank for new ideas, and consistently comes up with 10 new designs a year. "Innovating, with the objective to develop in line with prevailing market demand, allows us to offer novel products with user-friendly designs," says Cheung.
He cites the example of a sleek pocket scale designed with an unconventional sliding cover. "The idea to enhance the design in this way not only protects the delicate weighing area at the top, but also provides an ideal surface area for a silk-screened logo or other promotional graphic."
In 2004, Chartrick launched its own Tacmix brand, and more recently decided to gradually shift the focus back to the consumer market because of the intense competition in the gifts and premiums sector characterised by smaller orders and lower prices.
"On the whole, our product attention will still be our flagship electronic scales with our pedometer being our rising star," says Cheung. "Yet we are also strengthening the capability of our R&D department to develop other small electronic items that might find a niche in the consumer market."
Chartrick is also looking for a more balanced market approach. "Currently, Japan persists as our major market, followed by Europe and some Southeast Asian countries," says Cheung.
"We want to grow our business in Europe and we are making progress in the capability to meet the RoHS requirements," Cheung says. "We are also creating more European-oriented designs, such as kitchen scales that accept a maximum of 5kg instead of the 3kg that is popular in Asia, and a body-weight scale that supports 300kg instead of 150kg. In addition, our pedometer will come with bigger switches, a bigger display and perhaps an MP3 function."
Chartrick certainly seems to have weighed everything up in fine style.
WRITTEN BY WINNIE HUI
Chartrick Industries Ltd