How Bissell uses a virtual production environment to estimate molded part costs


Until recently, vacuum maker Bissell viewed the costs of its outsourced plastic parts as largely inscrutable, simply accepting their price structure and design facets as delivered.

"Through 14 years of operating on a contract manufacturing model, [Bissell] had moved more to considering our contract manufacturing as a kind of black box, but due to the nature of our business, we really have to understand the costs," explained Hank Marcy, senior vice president of product design and engineering. "Having visibility to cost information is pretty difficult. We don't have a factory where our engineers can walk out and see what the impact of some of their decisions are."

Patented by Melville Bissell in 1876, the original Bissell Carpet Sweeper was first built on a large scale six years later when the company opened its initial manufacturing plant in Grand Rapids, MI. Bissell still has a large presence in Michigan, but to remain price competitive with its fellow vacuum makers, it followed them in moving much of its manufacturing offshore....
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