10 Jan 2008
Profit Generator(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 01,2008)
|With a 20-year history manufacturing clock parts, electronic gifts, crystal lights and electronic premiums, Gold Barrel Industrial Co Ltd also offers environmentally-friendly torches|
With a 20-year history manufacturing electronic gifts ranging from high-quality crystal lights to electronic premiums such as clocks, LED items, a magic mug and an advertising mug, Gold Barrel Industrial Co Ltd ultimately decided to add environmentally-friendly products.
"Prior to 2002, we produced clock parts, including movements, hands and other parts," recounts Sales Manager Harold Hau. "Eventually, we found we could no longer compete with suppliers on the Chinese mainland and started looking for alternatives."
To get away from seasonal products, the firm latched on to torches. "But there were other criteria," Mr Hau adds. "As we did our R&D we decided to look for something to differentiate our intended product."
Most obvious was the fact that in an emergency the first thing to worry about would be battery life. "We started to look at ways to eliminate that problem, and to also find ways of eliminating pollution brought about by disposal of dry batteries," Mr Hau says.
In due course, Gold Barrel chose to go with a battery design - but with a twist: a torch that could be recharged using a miniature dynamo. "Our dynamo torch has a small motor inside it, plus a voltage control circuit board based around an IC to act as an efficient regulatory system and help save on battery use," Mr Hau explains.
In 2003, the WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations came into force. These covered electronic products coming into Europe, and looked especially at batteries. Later, when RoHS was added, Gold Barrel was prepared.
"Our early investment paid off," insists Mr Hau. "Now, similar regulations to those in force in Europe are being applied to consumer goods in California. Sooner or later, all states in the US are expected to closely monitor the toxicity of batteries."
The company has achieved considerable success for its efforts. "Our torches herald the US brand name, The Weather Channel, which supplies national chain stores," says Mr Hau.
"It only licenses its name and logo to qualified product manufacturers, and in so doing gains off-channel exposure and reaches consumers in a new way, with the right products."
While the brand name profits, product manufacturers also stand to benefit from The Weather Channel identification. "People know that to be selected as a brand licensee for The Weather Channel, manufacturers must meet stringent criteria in terms of product performance, quality, reputation, and weather relevance, and Gold Barrel has clearly passed that test," Mr Hau asserts.
"Now we have a more complete range," he adds. "We have developed products with alarms and radios using the dynamo and rechargeable batteries approach. We have also reduced the charge time and the weight, in addition to battery toxicity."
He notes that attention is paid to beam brightness and useful focussing features. "We use LEDs as they have the advantage of needing less power to drive them while delivering high luminescence. Their lifetime is also far longer than standard filament bulbs," extols Mr Hau.
"Any radios incorporated in our products are FM receivers, as this is the most popular format, and we include a convenient and easy-to-use auto-channel selector. We also have models for cars using the dashboard lighter socket for charging," he adds.
The firm's experience in clock manufacturing also helped as the importance of gearing was well understood. "The need to have the gears mesh efficiently is of quintessential importance," Mr Hau asserts. "Without good design, that quality is just not there and the power is not easily or efficiently generated," he adds. "We transferred suitable clock movement technology to our torches so that even a child can charge them."
Specifically, the company's Wind-Type Dynamo Torch, model GT-55-T2R, uses five LEDs. "The main features of this torch include high quality illumination, an environmentally-friendly design, a streamlined body and a comfortable feel when holding it," says Mr Hau.
"Adopting ultra-bright LEDs, with a service life of 10,000 hours, brings high efficiency and energy-saving," he adds. "Optical glass is used to adjust the beam of light to achieve a spotlight. This makes the torch very useful for special situations such as power blackouts and failures. Typically, it is wound for 10 seconds to achieve a light source for 15 minutes. Winding for 30 seconds results in light for 60 minutes."
At present, the torch is available in Europe, the US, Japan, Australia, Korea and Southeast Asia. Raw materials include ABS for the body, but with a metallic look. "This emphasis came from a European customer who preferred that look," Mr Hau informs. "Subsequent research confirmed the general popularity of a metallic look."
There are clearly bright times ahead for Gold Barrel Industrial Co Ltd.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
|Gold Barrel Industrial Co Ltd
Ho Lik Centre
66A Sha Tsui Rd
Tsuen Wan, New Territories
|Year Established: 1987|
Major Product Categories: clocks and dynamo torches
Brands & Certificates: -
Minimum Order: 3,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: -
Delivery Time: 30 days
Factory Size & Location: 3,000 square feet; Dongguan