How Do You Beat Chinese Copycats?
How I Did It: Jay Lapeyre, Laitram
Jay Lapeyre, president of global manufacturing company Laitram LLC, shares why his company's history of innovation (it was the first ever automate shrimp peeling via machinery) gives it an edge against a growing number of overseas copycats.
00:08 Jay Lapeyre: I'm Jay Lapeyre, I'm president of Laitram LLC. We make industrial products. I would say, we improve productivity in a plant. So whether you're in a meat plant or a vegetable plant, or you're a tire manufacturer or whatever, can... They have operating problems and difficulty with conveyance and with transfers and with managing the flow. And we are expert at both flow and sanitation and the things it takes to improve the productivity in a plant, using our technology.
00:41 Lapeyre: Well, when my father invented... When JM invented the modular plastic conveyor, plastic was thought of as junk and it was competing against metal, and it might have been competing against chain or fabric. And all of those, depending on what your application is, had different problems. So fabric, for instance, is not very sanitary. Once it gets cut, it's got a wicking problem. The strength membranes are fabric inside, so if you cut it, you're gonna have sanitation, you're gonna have bacteria, you're gonna have crevices and problems. The chain, the metal, would rust and corrode, and all of them had tracking problems. By having something that was possibly driven, you could use what I'll call a "sprocket drive", and you can make it modular, and it's easy to clean because it's plastic. So, if you had a problem, you could take out a rod, put in a replacement module, and be back up in business in a very short period of time. So, easy repair, low maintenance operation, low tension, high reliability, easy cleaning, all of those were the benefits.
01:48 Lapeyre: We have, we think, 40 competitors in China who make carbon copies of what we make. Many of them have our name on it, so it's definitely a case where the actual physical production product is being copied. The quality is often not what it could be, so there's risk in that. But what we do is we focus on the right applications for how to use the product, to actually improve the profitability in the plant. So, ours is about identifying the hard-to-solve problems, and we're not gonna work with people... If they wanna pick and choose, if they use us for the hard problems, and then they don't use us for the easy problems, we're not gonna work with them, because we just can't make money by helping them to radically sort of expedite this competition. What we do is work hard to build our relationships, and in most plants, the cost of the conveyors and the cost of our systems are very small compared to the productivity improvements. So, when you can save them a lot of money on productivity, they're not worried too much about the actual cost of the product.
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