Economic Articles

Janos Technology and Markem Imaje – Flexible Versus Mass Production And Why They Both Work

February 18, 2020 – Matthew Pittendreigh

Like many of the industrial centers of Keene, and of the region, Janos Technologies strikes one as an unassuming warehouse. Yet within, the building is chalked full of optical technology, ready to create value. However, with the number of hundred thousand-dollar machines at least quadrupling the size of the workshop shift and very limited space between machines, I was surprised by many facets of the company and was left to wonder; how much capital and in what areas does Janos’ parent company Fluke invest in the Keene operation?  

My only personal experience working in the Keene industrial base was my Summer long employment at Markem Imaje. There I observed an example of an apparently efficient company. Markem quarter after quarter hit its production and sales quotas for the year and employs hundreds of community members. They even kept an eye for development. There was an in-house research engineering team, and the new German CSAT machines being built by the team I was on, could print hundreds of pages a minute.  

As I stood in the lobby of Janos and learned about the high-tech products they manufactured, I began to figure that visiting this production floor less than 10 miles away from Markem Imaje would raise some striking similarities. But what I saw upon entering the production floor was far different than what I had expected. Instead of the open, minimalist workspace found at Markem, Janos had many more machines than machinists. The work floor was crowded to less than two-foot gaps in many places. One might suspect that since Janos is owned by Fluke which is in turn owned by Fortive/ Danaher Corp, it does not allocate the proper funds in capital investment. This certainly may be a contributing factor to the current layout of Janos. However, it also may be that the explanation lies not within the rate of reinvestment, perhaps it lies within the type of production.  

Markem Imaje has a standard line of products. Though they do not produce a high quantity of products, due to the large and complex nature of industrial printers, it is still considered mass production. They desire to produce as many printers as possible with limited customization so that production can remain streamline. Janos, on the other hand, practices flexible production. Mass production of optical lenses faces is steep competition from China, Japan, and Germany. Janos knows this is the case and instead produces their lenses using a one-by-one approach. This allows Janos to offer unmatched quality assurance. Building a reputation for quality and employing skilled lens polishers that are even more precise than diamond turning machines, has led Janos to access a profitable portion of the market.    

Companies like Janos and Markem are able to compete with the low production cost of international corporations due to their presence in high tech fields and ability to assure a quality product. These two companies show that this business model can lead to success, but production styles can differ within. In both cases, however, investing in the product quality is crucial to the companies’ continued profitability.