Leaders in Original Equipment Manufacturing
February 12, 2009— Toronto, Ontario
For companies to be competitive and successful, research and innovation is essential - especially if you're in the automotive sector. From its beginnings as an offshoot of Centro Manufacturing ten years ago, Sherwood Innovations Inc. is now well positioned to move from a Tier 2 to Tier 1 supplier to original equipment manufacturers worldwide, fulfilling its goal to be the world leader in automotive exterior trim products.
Sherwood Innovations's prototype machine for robotic trimming is the subject of their first patent application. Photo courtesy of Sherwood Innovations
The company developed a strong relationship with the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) from the very beginning. As a start-up with two employees, Sherwood Innovations received assistance to develop a new adhesive for the company's main product line from a chemical subcontractor.
The company established a manufacturing infrastructure when it acquired the assets of Trimmaster Incorporated in 1999. It moved quickly to expand and refine its product lines so they could create the largest flat dashboard application guide for North American cars.
Achieving this meant putting in place the necessary UV testing, flammability testing, and abrasion and tensile testing to enable the company to expand its product line - a product line which now includes real dashes, graphic dashes and molded dashes, as well as door handles, port holes, mirror covers, and headlight and taillight trims.
The emphasis on research and product improvement has also enabled the company to apply for a patent on a prototype machine for robotic trimming. This prototype, along with the company's 3D laser scanning and thermoform stamping, has created a state-of-the-art production floor, with an in-house design team and an in-house tool room. Now, as the automotive sector relies on just-in-time delivery of highly specialized production more than ever, Sherwood Innovations has the software schedules, the raw materials and the production builds that can respond with optimum flexibility.
Throughout this growth stage, refining and improving best practices remains the top priority. Sherwood Innovations has expanded its product lines with in-house refinement that led to ISO9001 certification and QS9000 quality systems by 2002, and TS16949, the highest quality standard in the industry by 2006.
Leonard Copetti, chief production engineer at the company, was one of three original Sherwood Innovations employees. "We obviously could not have done it without NRC-IRAP. In particular, Mike Sava has been an exceptional resource," said Mr. Copetti. "He has an incredible networking capability, acting as a third party to seek out the best opportunities for our products beyond research and innovation."
Now, in keeping with the non-stop growth of the company over the last decade, Sherwood Innovations has moved to a 50,000 square foot production facility, with 75 employees - 21 of whom are engineers and technicians. Because the delivery dates are extremely short for original equipment manufacturers in this sector, the company has partnered with an OEM counterpart in Turkey to service European and Middle Eastern markets. Sherwood Innovations has further plans to partner with manufacturing centres in China (2008) and South America (2010) to effectively cover all corners of the globe. Its goal - to be the world leader in automotive exterior trim products - may, like an object in a rear view mirror, be closer than it appears.
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