The most common question we receive is “where is your product made”? For nearly 10 years the air purifiers I have developed and brought to market have been made in China. While we have produced very good products it’s always been a question that I wished we could answer differently.
Here is how we have transitioned our company to embrace the “where is your product made” question and in addition to have confidence that we are truly delivering the best product on the market and doing so with full transparency.
As an allergy sufferer with first hand experience with asthma attacks I’ve felt we needed to do more to push the boundaries from a product performance standpoint – both in reliability and ability to clean the air. To get there we needed to start from scratch and dramatically change how we design and manufacture. We have chosen to use the world’s best components and to shift manufacturing to the US. In fact every major component we now use is made in the USA except for the motor and it is the top of the line motor/fan from Germany.
On a visit to the BMW factory in Greenville, SC a couple years ago I witnessed how far modern manufacturing (really assembly) has come. The machines they use are massive and quickly move the large car parts around like they are toys. In one area they glue two large sections of the underbody together. The entire process is fast and accurate. A mechanical arm picks up a large piece of steel, glue is applied by a machine and then the parts are joined together, a picture is taken and assessed by a computer to make sure it was done properly.
Some of the assembly is done manually by the auto workers but for the most part they act more like supervisors ensuring the line is progressing properly.
Manufacturing in China is often like going back to the start of the Industrial Revolution. The workers on their assembly lines have one simple task to do such as screwing in one screw. It is boring, difficult and very manual. It’s not unusual for up to 100 people be directly involved in the assembly an air purifier. In a sense the products are hand crafted since the assembly is so manual.
On a visit to a Chinese motor factory I observed a group of 6 women in a dimly lit warehouse hand winding the copper into the motor. The machines that crank out the steel and plastic parts are largely automated but the assembly is completely manual. In my experience with this type of assembly it only takes one person to have an off day to create reliability issues with some of the products in a production run. It also doesn’t help when sub-standard ball bearings are used in the motor and that is not uncommon in China.
In embracing the latest manufacturing processes and technologies we are now proud to introduce the Erik line of air purifiers and manufacture them in the US. The combination of making the products here and using the world’s best components makes it expensive to produce but in this case you get what you pay for – superior reliability and performance – the Ultimate Air Cleaning Machine.
This shift represents a change from making good products with a balance of marketing to making awesome products and letting the marketing take care of itself. In my opinion the majority of air purifiers are sold based on slick marketing and less on actual performance and benefit for the customer. Air purifiers are unique in that it is difficult to see the performance since the particles that are being removed are often too small to see. There is a lot of emphasis on features that sound impressive and take advantage of a customer’s lack of knowledge and understanding. In future posts I will delve into these areas to reveal what is happening in the air purifier market.