When you add a revolutionary new offering to your business that’s going to change the game for construction customers, the last thing you want is for its parts to crumble (and your repairs to soar).
Kodi Klip—designed to enhance the intricate task of connecting rebar with increased safety, speed, and strength—experienced two years of growing pains before Signicast stepped in to help.
OVERCOMING RELIABILITY CHALLENGES
Signicast played a pivotal role in assisting LoJac, Kodi Klip’s new majority owner, in transforming this innovative reinforcing solution into a rock-solid success.
For Tennessee brick-and-block construction manufacturer LoJac, leading the regional building industry with a 75% market share comes with the expectation of reliability.
When the company discovered inventor Jon Kodi’s “Kodi Klip,” named Most Innovative Product at a World of Concrete expo in 2015, they were wowed.
Here was a hand-held, air-gun-like tool that, when triggered, automatically fastens a clip to intersecting rods of rebar. This helped workers to avoid the back-breaking, slow, and injury-prone labor of manual wire-tying.
“There's an immediate wow factor, and people totally get it. It's one of those innovations that can seriously change the construction world,” says LoJac Chief Operating Officer Kellie Mires.
The company partnered with Kodi in March of 2016. But the tools that had been produced in its early generations faced a big problem of failure in the field.
“As soon as it would hit the rebar the nozzle just fell apart,” says Aroll Jones, Customer Sales Director for Kodi Klip. “It would be sent back in crumbled pieces.”
By the time LoJac began managing the Kodi Klip business, the product was in its second generation, and LoJac saw firsthand how urgent the reliability issue was.
A SOLUTION-DRIVEN APPROACH
Kevin Blair, LoJac’s Equipment Director, says “The original nozzle was machined aluminum which was very brittle. We had to add a protector to it after assembly to keep it from being damaged on rebar.”
That brought the part count higher. And the repairs kept coming.
“We were repairing as many 50 or 60 per month, and more than 80% were because of broken nozzles. You would do a repair, send it back out, and a month and a half later it would come back with another broken nozzle. You can't do that. It's bad for business, bad for the customer, and bad all the way around.”
It became imperative for the company to solve the quality issues before mass-producing a product that would have LoJac’s brand attached to it.
CONVERTING TO INVESTMENT CASTING
Signicast had learned about the nozzle failures from its inventor, so when LoJac took over management of the business, a solution had already been proposed.
To address the strength issue, Signicast designed a carbon steel solution— a material far stronger than aluminum. “But also, we made it one piece rather than two separate pieces,” Ellis says, which would give the nozzle more structural integrity in use. And finally, the new part would undergo investment casting instead of machining, resulting in a stronger and more reliable piece.
However, the true test would unfold in the field—and within LoJac’s equipment shop.
CASTING A PRODUCT THAT LASTS
“In six months, we’ve put 300 or so into the field, and we have yet to have a nozzle failure,” says Blair. “And as more of them get out and replace the older generation, the repairs just keep going down.”
Signicast’s solution also yields another benefit: with tooling developed, future production runs can be executed with total project automation, just-in-time quantities and schedules prescribed by LoJac.
“Going with Signicast has made such a big difference. We’re finally able to tell the market, ‘Yes, you can get it today. Yes, we know it will last,’” says Jones. “When the tool is done, when it hits the field, it's exactly what it needs to be and it's working the way it was designed.”