Thermoforming Case Study:
Supply Chain 911: How Profile Plastics Rescued Pluie from a Parts Disaster
Challenge: What do you do when your plastic parts are delayed in the midst of huge growth potential?
Launched in 2020, Pluie offers the first and only self-sanitizing baby-changing table for public restrooms. The company’s mission is to revolutionize changing tables by providing a cleaner, safer, and more convenient alternative.
Achieving solid success—and market validation—early on was critical for the startup company, explains Pluie co-founder and COO, Brittany Hizer. So when one of the company’s overseas suppliers reported a six-week delay for a key plastic table component, the situation became dire.
In fact, Pluie was confronting a number of challenges:
Significant supply chain delays. The supplier had several reasons for the delay, including material shortages and the New Year holiday, as well as labor problems related to COVID-19.
Potentially missing a golden opportunity for positive exposure. With Pluie riding a wave of early momentum, the delay in parts could not have occurred at a worse time.
“So much was riding on getting those parts on schedule,” says Brittany. “We had high-profile customers we needed to satisfy. We had a PR team to help us garner positive media attention. And we had our investors watching our performance.”
Quality issues with the signature part. Along with schedule problems, Pluie was also dealing with quality issues like warping and denting in the parts the supplier had already provided.
“This wasn’t just any part,” explains Pluie founder and CEO Addie Gundry. “It’s the main Pluie piece. It’s what you see when you walk into a restroom, so the aesthetic of it is crucial.”
As the installation dates loomed, Pluie pivoted to the possibility of a U.S.-based thermoformer. That’s when they reached out to Profile Plastics.
Solution: Expediting production for a crucial aesthetic part through expertise, experience, and a “seamless” process.
Following initial contact, Profile Plastics invited Addie and Brittany to the company plant, quickly got up to speed on their project needs, and then proceeded to establish a viable path forward to produce the parts they so desperately needed.
According to Pluie, Profile moved swiftly and methodically through a series of steps, providing solutions along the way like the following:
Tapping into a deep network of vendors. Material for a baby product installed in public restrooms demands highly specific characteristics. Grasping the urgency of Pluie’s needs, Profile leveraged long-standing vendor relationships to ensure the right materials would be available for a fast-tracked project.
“We had a long list of requirements,” says Addie, “everything from a 5VA rating to a specific white color to a certain gloss level, even a durable printed logo that wouldn’t peel off in the field. Profile was amazing at leveraging their network. They handled all of that in the background and made the process seamless.”
Using quick-turn prototype tooling for speed and cost control. Without the original production tooling to produce Pluie’s parts, Profile had to find other options that would both expedite the manufacturing process and control costs.
“The Profile team’s insights brought a ton of value to the project. By using quick-turn tooling, they helped get the project moving ahead quickly and made costs reasonable. They also opted to fabricate and trim another part—no tooling or thermoforming needed. That also saved us money,” says Brittany.
Eliminating quality issues to produce a superior cosmetic part. The aesthetics for such a high-visibility part had to be attractive and flawless, including the part’s eye-catching white color. Profile’s specialized experience in highly cosmetic thermoformed parts helped eliminate the problems Pluie was seeing from the other supplier’s parts.
“Profile definitely delivered on what we wanted to see,” says Addie. “They produced an absolutely beautiful part. We even loved their version of white better than what we were originally using.”
Results: High-quality parts in seven weeks instead of six months—plus a solid partnership established for the future.
With those parts produced on schedule, Pluie was able to carry out their crucial Q2 installations. More specifically, the company points out that Profile Plastics delivered big in ways like these:
Saving Pluie critical time. While Profile Plastics worked expeditiously to hit Pluie’s timeframe, the overseas vendor ended up being even more behind schedule than anticipated.
“Taking everything into account, the Profile team was essentially able to do in seven weeks what took around six months with the overseas supplier. And that’s not even including the better quality of the Profile parts,” says Brittany.
Pulling off a “miracle” helps maintain momentum. Pluie was able to make those high-profile installations at a critical stage in the young company’s growth.
“We told Profile they pulled off a miracle for us,” says Brittany. “We needed those parts as soon as possible, and we had people telling us we were crazy. But Profile understood the bind we were in and ultimately came through for us. That’s enabled us to stay on track and continue to scale.”
Adding value as a local supplier. Companies may opt for overseas suppliers for perceived schedule or cost advantages. Those, however, did not come to fruition in this case. But by working with a local thermoformer, Pluie benefitted from on-site, face-to-face interaction, improved lead time, more streamlined logistics, and lower shipping costs.
“I literally drive by the Profile Plastics plant every day. I know it’s not always feasible to have local suppliers, but this is definitely an example where it led to success,” says Addie.
Establishing a strong partnership for the future. Based on their experience, Pluie is confident that it can again turn to Profile Plastics for future support on a number of fronts.
“Our table has 86 parts, so we source from a lot of suppliers,” says Addie. “But Profile had a unique way of going above and beyond. They even took the time to point out ways to reduce costs and improve the design for future iterations. We’re definitely looking forward to re-engaging with them for both manufacturing and design support.”
Struggling with your current thermoformer? Just want to talk about your future thermoforming needs?
Set up an introductory call with Profile Plastics.