How Zuru is bringing Industry 4.0 to the toy space

Co-founder, director and co-CEO of Zuru Toys Nick Mowbray tells us how Industry 4.0 is evolving how the company does business.
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Industry 4.0 is being marked as a saviour in manufacturing – a phrase referring to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, with smarter supply chains as well as increased data integration and connectivity.

Companies are now able to utilise this information when understanding the correlation of variables in order to increase efficiency. While increased efficiency is something that will always be sought after, this need is also being pushed by increasing costs of resources in China: China’s labour costs have more than quadrupled since 2006, and demand for paper and cardboard is still outstripping supply into 2018, with prices on the rise annually.

To combat these increasing pressures, Zuru Toys is pioneering Industry 4.0 in the toy space. Zuru is centralised out of Shenzhen, owning over 180,000 square feet across two factories, and is currently in the process of finding a third. This is what sets Zuru apart from other toy companies who generally do not own their own factories, but sub-contract instead.

For Zuru, this means that all data collected from the manufacturing processes can be used to put back into the process to improve operations, reduce waste, reduce asset downtime and drive process optimisation. We have set our sights on being the largest, most efficient company in this industry and are investing significantly in automation and manufacturing optimisation.

However, creating these smart factories takes time, and the toy industry moves very quickly, making it tough to drive manufacturing 4.0 in this space. All of Zuru’s machinery is designed internally, driving scale. With a team of over 100 automation engineers and newly opened software divisions in Italy and India, we are developing machinery now responsible for producing over 270,000 Bunch O Balloons, 3 million X-Shot darts and 100,000 X-Shot dart blasters per day.

Zuru’s next frontier is to disrupt the die-cast car category. The company is aggressively entering this category and is building capacity to an impressive 50,000 Metal Machines cars per day, and 500,000 metres of track per month.

The special moulding machines, which create actual metal bases for the cars, hence the name, are helping to half the costs of production. Regular new styles are planned, each one being designed from scratch and produced internally.

Industry 4.0 is a real driving force in keeping up with today’s consumer demand and one that could help the toy space speed to the next level, too.

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