9 March 2006
Striving For Perfection(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 02,2006)
International Electrical Ltd
|International Electrical Ltd's clocks are fully compliant with CE, UL and the latest European RoHS requirements|
Accuracy is a fundamental requirement for any timepiece, and Hong Kong clock manufacturer International Electrical Ltd has taken extreme measures in its drive for perfection.
"We produce our own CE-approved movements and do all assembling under one roof at our 16,900-square-metre, 200-worker factory in Guangzhou on the Chinese mainland," explains sales manageress Jady Wong.
As if that is not dedicated enough, International Electrical also undertakes 100% inspection at least three times during an entire production cycle - including an initial check of incoming movements, inspecting semi-finished products during assembly and examining finished clocks before packaging.
The final inspection sees batteries inserted into clocks that are allowed to run for two days to guarantee all exported shipments are problem-free.
Individual buyers may also request the company perform additional tests, including transit, drop, aging and salt-spray trials.
"We are ready to invest in this testing equipment and facilities if requested by our customers," Wong says. "Although they all involve higher costs, quality always comes first."
Fully compliant with CE, UL and the latest European RoHS requirements on environmental and product safety standards, International Electrical's monthly production of 170,000 clocks comprises quartz, mechanical and electrical alarm (90%) and wall models (10%).
"We use stainless steel, ICs, plastic and iron from the mainland and Taiwan, which also meet quality standards in Europe," Wong says.
This emphasis on quality is understandable as the 12-year-old company serves a number of giant department chains, including Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, as well as producing for well-known brands like Disney, Bratz and Westclox.
"Some clients carry out regular factory audits to ensure that our facilities and environment, QC procedures, safety standards and working conditions meet their requirements," Wong adds.
She says International Electrical has also geared up its design capability as it realises that lately clocks are increasingly becoming a decorative lifestyle item.
"Since 2004, we have changed our strategy by placing greater emphasis on design," Wong recalls. "We have invested in R&D, and collaborate with external design houses that provide us with numerous creative ideas."
These efforts, combined with a healthy US economy and the company's many joint projects with department-store customers, saw International Electrical's sales leap 30% in 2004 and continue solidly since.
Much of this continuing sales growth is due to International Electrical's policy of offering 10 new items each year, in addition to developing and producing exclusive designs for its customers.
Different materials are also giving conventional styles a new twist, Wong says, while packaging design has become increasingly important to attract consumer attention.
"Silk-screen and offset printing on clock faces are popular, and we add foil to achieve a glittering and luminous effect," Wong explains. "Feathers, rhinestones and metal studs fixed on clock faces are also really fashionable and cool."
Today, International Electrical offers a myriad of designs categorised into collections for different groups - including children, teenagers, adults and special editions created to match department store promotional themes.
Desk clocks with ornamental parts resembling a photo frame with stand, a version with a mirror on the opposite side or an alarm clock with a user-friendly, push-and-stop outer clock face are examples of International Electrical's latest ideas.
But classic styles still have their supporters, and Wong notes that one of the company's best-selling items is a twin-bell alarm clock available in eight sizes ranging from 2-8 inches in diameter.
"This series achieved a breakthrough in 2004 with sales of 1.5 million and it's not slowing down," she adds, noting that delivery usually takes 35 days after order confirmation.
Looking ahead, International Electrical is set to start its own in-house design department to offer customers more creative selections while achieving better time management, with the ultimate aim of providing the better service vital for further business growth.
"Our blueprint is to expand our existing market in the US and Europe," Wong concludes. "Although Japan comprises just 10% of our current business, it is a promising market as customers there appreciate distinctive quality."
Although it clearly requires greater effort, International Electrical is proving that the search for perfection clearly pays handsome dividends.
WRITTEN BY WINNIE HUI
International Electrical Ltd