Reshoring Components Protects Quality

Reshoring Components Protects Quality

Feb. 22, 2013
Oorja Fuel Cells brought production back when errors turned up in the field.

Rule number one for a start-up business -- provide a quality product. This is especially important when the product involves a new technology. There is no reputation to fall back on should errors occur.

Sanjiv Malhotra, CEO of Oorja Fuel Cells knows this first hand. “The lure of overseas production was attractive, especially from a cost perspective. So we started with a few components but we found out that in the field the parts were failing. It was a wakeup call for us and we brought those parts back to the U.S. for production.”

So how did he recover the increase cost of U.S. production? “We focused on design and have been able to reduce costs by 55-60%,” Malhotra said. 

Malhortra started the company eight years ago. Based in Fremont, Calif.  the company designs, develops and manufacturers liquid methanol based fuel cells. The fuel cells provide battery charging for forklifts, pallet loaders, automated guided vehicles and other material handling equipment.

One company that is taking advantage of the technology is Nissan Motor Co. (IW 100/26). “We will save near $225,000 per year and avoid spending $300,000 for battery replacement,” explained Sorgi, senior manager of material handling, Nissan, Smyrna, Tenn. “We can probably run anywhere from 14 to 16 hours on one tank of methanol. It takes 60 seconds to refill versus battery change-out that takes 15 minutes.”

The battery continuously charges on-board battery in the material handling vehicle. This ensures the battery never reaches a state of deep discharge. Battery charge and power are maintained at high levels and the battery is not subject to heat damage caused during recharging. Therefore, battery life is increased and battery maintenance needs are reduced.

Last year the company shipped more than 500 units.

Mahortra believes that the type of technology his company is using is one that can eventually create a number of jobs in the U.S.

“The U.S. should take the lead with this technology,” said Mahortra. It’s a perfect example of creating, producing and even one day exporting technology as there is a huge market. It keeps jobs in the U.S.”

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!