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Chang Loon Industrial Builds Success on Back of Long-term R&D

Managers and supervisors are mandatory participants in all R&D projects

Dec 31, 2015 | By Steve

As Taiwan's biggest exporter of high-end ratchet wrenches by volume, Chang Loon Industrial Co., Ltd. attributes its current status to long-term dedication to R&D, a key strategy that helps hand tool makers in Taiwan to keep at bay and stay ahead of  rivals from emerging countries, who tend to emulate their more advanced counterparts. 

Chang Loon began as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of low-end tools in 1978 in Taiwan's central county of Changhua, and gradually specialized in  manufacturing ratchet wrenches and bolt cutters. The company's current line includes  bolt cutters, conventional cutters, gear wrenches, 72-teeth ratchet combination wrenches, specialized snips for aeronautical and marine applications, pliers, pipe wrenches, oil filter wrenches and power tools, which all meet major international standards, including ANSI and DIN.

Defying Bigger-is-Better
The Taiwan-based maker also defies the “bigger is better” principle: despite employing less than 100 workers in a plant of 6,000 square meters, Chang Loon's unparalleled influence in the segment is rarely questioned. Its 30-plus years of experience is the bedrock of the firm's solid reputation among buyers, who see Chang Loon as a trustworthy, competent supplier in the global market. The company exports to Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Canada and the U.S., with some products sold under its own Catch Leader, Gear Metal and CHL brands.

Unlike many of its peers, Chang Loon also has a reputation as an ODM (original design manufacturer), a status gradually built via consistently investing in R&D. As the title implies, an ODM can command higher margins for products. After all, just about anyone, with the basic equipment, can turn out hand tools according to given specs. 

Chairman C.M. Chang notes that mandatory participation by managers and supervisors in every stage of an R&D project is critical to corporate success; while  extensive discussion between management and R&D engineers help to develop new products in line with the newest trends. Also, such teamwork effectively confirms the  feasibility of R&D projects.

Field-tested by Pros
Another real-world approach used by Chang Loon, besides testing new products with inspection instruments, is allowing professional users to try newly-developed tools as  field test. The feedback from professional users, according to Chang, is the basis for further debugging, honing of rough edges, which are eventually fully removed before being shown on retailers' shelves. Needless to say, such field testing is costly and time-consuming, but the rewards are considerable: clients' attention is effectively drawn towards new products, which can win praise.

The aforementioned, no-holds-barred fine-tuning enabled Chang Loon to build its top seller: the 72-teeth ratchet wrench, which is more than hype, overkill but a godsend for mechanics who have had to tighten spark plugs when fender wells have limited space to only a few centimeters. In fact, this ratchet wrench rotates precisely 5 degrees with each turn. 

Also, the 72-teeth ratchet wrench has been built with an eye towards outdoing the competition, with improved characteristics as lightweight, torque rating, and durability. In other words, the wrench is especially user-friendly to auto mechanics, journeyman etc. who rely on their tools for prolonged usage under demanding conditions.

Multinational Patented
Another pride and joy is Chang Loon's 3-in-1 bolt cutter, whose serrated cutting edge is the key feature. The multinational patented design, as any experienced user can attest, is ingenious as tubular objects to be cut will no longer slip away under force.  To reinforce this bolt cutter's capacity and structural strength, the company actually heat treats the upper parts of the two arms instead of merely painting, as do most other makers for painting is the cheapest way to enhance added-value, according to Chang.

Designed to be multifunctional, the cutter can sever wires, bolts and cables, which also lightens tool boxes and belts by reducing the need to carry other cutters.

Realizing that visual appeal inevitably boosts product marketability, Chang Loon also actively designs packaging. Chang stresses that the company's R&D people periodically apply trendy styling and update themselves with market information to develop new packaging for improved visibility. Also, the company widely applies environmentally-friendly materials to design packaging, which makes the firm socially responsible as well as help retailers win consumer recognition.

The secret to Chang Loon's sustainable business lies in the continual R&D,  according to Chang. The company has reaped from its across-the-board R&D effort not only improved product quality but also packaging design, and realization of  innovations; while it is Chang's religious belief—that even an established hand tool maker may quickly decline, disappear without focusing on R&D—that keeps the firm on its successful tracks.


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