Insourcing: a surprising success story

9/30/2007 12:00:00 AM
By PSN Staff

Taking its cue from a group of video industry engineers who had cut their teeth with ASK, Proxima, and InFocus, projectiondesign has steered clear of the mass market, positioning itself instead in the middle market for single-chip DLP projectors. The company's products enjoy a loyal following among dealers in the business and home theater sectors, but its core markets are specialized commercial AV applications such as visualization and the emerging eCinema arena.

In contrast (no pun intended) to common contemporary business practise, projectiondesign favors 'insourcing', doing as much work as it can in-house. All key hardware and software R&D is carried out at Fredrikstad, while industrial design takes place around the corner at sister company Baerd Eker, alongside the world-famous Koenigsegg cars and Hydrolift powerboats. Lenses are made in Japan exclusively to the company's own designs, and projectiondesign is about to become one of the few projector manufacturers to fully embrace the VIDI lamp technology platform from Philips. A long-standing relationship with Texas Instruments means that TI regards projectiondesign as a developer, as much as the other way around.

How is all this possible in today's globalized, commoditized marketplace? For me, it's not rocket science -- merely another example of the free market in action. With a wide choice of resolutions, brightness levels, lenses and other options, projectiondesign can offer more than 600 different variations on just four basic single-chip DLP platforms (the firm's first three-chip device is due next year). As Anders Loekke, the company's marketing communications manager, puts it: "You can't offer bespoke or one-off products if you manufacture in the Far East."

Of course, being an innovator is no use if your products take too long to reach dealers' shelves. Which is why projectiondesign has invested in new facilities such as its own EMC laboratory, from which it will be able to self-certify its products for FCC approval. If you EMC-test individual components during the prototype stage, rather than waiting before sending a production model to an outside lab, you reduce your time to market.

If all this sounds like a fairytale from deep in the Norwegian wood, consider this. While so many projector makers have struggled to make money, projectiondesign has grown both its revenue and its profit by 50% every year for the past three years. It's on target to do the same in 2007. And the story has only just begun.

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