iQ's Innovation

How we do what we do

Published on
January 11, 2022 7:28:16 AM PST January 11, 2022 7:28:16 AM PSTth, January 11, 2022 7:28:16 AM PST



We wanted to share with you the why and how behind the innovation here at iQ Power Tools. We did a video around our warehouse to demonstrate all the behind the scenes work that happens before a tool is launched. Check out the video above, or read the transcript below.


Paul Guth:

Welcome everyone. It's a pleasure to have you with us here and take a few minutes and talk about the design process and how we innovate here at IQ. Yeah, a little bit about the IQ story. And I tell this at the beginning of each video, but for those that have not heard it, IQ really evolved out of a construction company, masonry and concrete construction company that my brother started, Joel. And that went on for many years and out of that company, we had needs, we had problems that we were trying to solve, and we went looking in the marketplace, and we were looking for dust collection solutions for masonry saws, particularly. They didn't exist so we started building our own in our shop and started putting them on our job sites, started solving a problem. And then in 2004, we went to our first trade show, sold some machines and slowly but surely began a business. In 2012, we decided to close down the construction business and focus on IQ Power Tools as a products business to bring innovative, focus on dust collection products to the marketplace and that's what we've done since then. So that's a bit in a nutshell, our story, and we're continuing on, having lots of fun and innovating and bringing new products to the market every year, really.


Paul Guth:

Here is the 2000 machine, which is one of the first things that we introduced. We needed them on our job sites and so we started building them. We designed this table that fits on about nine different brands of masonry saws. We went into manufacturing the large dust collector here to capture that dust. And so that's your filter bags and it has a shaker mechanism. So kind of the same concepts that we followed down through the years, except we just kept making them smaller and smaller. This is the 2000 machine that we developed many years ago.


Paul Guth:

And then in 2010, we came out with the IQ360, which really changed the of the trajectory of the company because now we're selling to guys in just a pickup truck doing small backyard work and things like that. So that really changed things. And then we sold that for many years and developed then, took all the information that we got from feedback and developed the 360 2, which we introduced about three years ago. And then of course, we got a full line of blades. We introduced a tile saw about four years ago and went into that market, introducing dry cutting, which was a totally brand new thing for tile contractors as being able to cut dry, but it eliminated the water and solved a lot of problems there. And of course it has the integrated dust collection.


Paul Guth:

Then this year we've introduced the iQ228CYCLONE, again, very small, portable tile saw. Just another a game changer and people are very, very excited about that. And then we also about have the IQ426HEPA vacuum, dust tractor vacuum that's been on the market for about a year. So that's a bit of the range. And these are the tools that we've developed and innovated over the last four or five years.


Paul Guth:

So as we worked on job sites and most of the people here that are part of the development team have hands on experience, and we're trying to solve real life problems out there that we used to experience, just like we needed these tools on our job sites years ago, we invented them, we solved the problem. And we had other contractors that had the same problems. And so there was a market there. So that's kind of the inspiration is solving problems, making things that are innovative, creating new things, talking to customers and getting feedback. And they tell us if only it did this or that, and then we put that on a list and maybe we can introduce other things, ideas that we can solve those types of problems. So it truly... Developing new products, it's a lot of fun.


Paul Guth:

This is a very condensed version of the process of how we do what we do. But first, it all comes down to a problem. We identify what the problem, the basic problem we want to try to solve. And then we go through a proof of concept. We develop a set of design goals. So we identify what are those problems we need to solve. And maybe in one problem, there's 50 individual small problems that we've got to solve. And so we'll develop solutions for all those little things as we go through the design process. And then we test and verify as we solve the problems, developing, making sure we're hitting our design goals. Then finally it comes down to what is the overall design? What do we want it to look like? Get some user interaction with it.How do they react? Do they understand how the latches work, how the buttons and the switches and all those, and that's called the industrial design. And then we do more hands on testing, and then we take it out to manufacturing and then it's more testing and testing. Testing until we are ready to bring it to market.


Paul Guth:

So, so that's a very, very condensed version of what we do, but in any one product, like here's the IQ 228 Cyclone, that's an exploded view. This is actually one of the products that has some of the fewer amount of pieces. So it's actually more simple in that regard, but that was the challenge with that. In the design goals, we wanted it to weigh 35 pounds. We wanted it to hit a price point. We wanted it to meet all of these things and fit into a size of a box. So those are the things that we set as design goals as we go through and start solving all the problems.


Sarah Williams:

So I see you also have some cools stuff here. Could you maybe talk about the patents and the concepts real quick?


Paul Guth:

Yeah. Part of the process is, this is my personal notebook and as I'm traveling around and doing different things, I'm, jotting things down as I go to a trade show. I'll put comments from end users in here. Maybe they have a crazy idea that, why don't you have it do this? Or why don't you have it do that? And I'll just take those notes down because once I hear something 20 or 30 times, at some point we start listening and go, okay, that's a feature that we think people might want. And where could we introduce that? And maybe it's not even in the product we're talking about but some future product we introduce it in.


Sarah Williams:

And I can be a witness to that. I've seen it in action and I've seen it happen at trade shows.


Paul Guth:

Yeah, so...


Sarah Williams:

And that book's awesome.


Paul Guth:

And then of course part of the process, we're always looking at patents and what is patentable. And we have regular meetings with our patent attorneys to make sure we're picking up intellectual property along the way. Because that's something we innovate so quickly. We don't even realize that something might be patentable, we're just solving problems. And then we get the patent attorney, he really interviews us and said, what have you been up to? And we show him and he starts checking off these different things that we need to start pursuing. So it's an interesting, fun, very dynamic process, and it's a team that is doing this.


Paul Guth:

Yeah. So here we have a line of products here and we call this, for example, this is the Frankenstein. We call it a Frankenstein because we build it very crudely, then we take and start printing 3D models and start taking body parts on and putting different ones on. And so we've coined the frame Frankenstein and that's actually one of our technicians. Tobias did that. So he called it...


Sarah Williams:

Is that patented?


Paul Guth:

Huh?


Sarah Williams:

Is that patented?


Paul Guth:

No. He it's Frankie, he calls it Frankie. So anyway, we put different motors on it, different filters. And so we really developed the concept, started solving all these problems that we were talking about until we get a group of components that seem to be meeting our design goals. Then we start doing our 3D printing, which is right on the other side of this, we have our 3D printer. We're constantly 3D printing parts and then we'll start making real prototypes and having people use them, put their hands on them. Like I said, use the latches, the switches wind up the cord. Does that all seem to be intuitive enough? And then finally we come to the finished product. So you can see there's really an evolution as we develop the product out and to refine it and get to the end result.


Paul Guth:

This is interesting if we back up here and break that down a little bit. Our 3D printer, which is pretty cool, we'll print out full parts and then we start introducing metal parts into it, making sure if it's pulleys or whatever mechanisms are working, and then we start machining parts. So this is a fully machined prototype here that we'll start doing testing on. So we go from plastics to metal, some more crude, do a lot of welding and then we go to some plastics and then we start machining. So a lot of different processes involved. And we do all that right here. And that's something that maybe you guys don't realize is we're right here in California. All of our R and D and testing is done right here to solve all these problems and bring new products to market.


Sarah Williams:

Can we show them a little bit more about what's happening here in California?


Paul Guth:

Yeah.


Sarah Williams:

Let's go show them the Frankenstein room.


Paul Guth:

Okay. It's the welding room, it's not...


Sarah Williams:

Welding room, not the Frankenstein...


Paul Guth:

The Frankenstein room. We don't create monsters in there, but we're here in Southern California. This is where we supply everything for North America. But again, we do all of our R and D testing, product development right here. So this is actually our welding room. And here, for example, we have on the welding bench, this has been done for quite a while, but we just put it in here to show. Tobias likes to spend his time welding things and he develops things. He likes working in metal, so he puts things together. And then we start seeing, we start putting some 3D parts on here, little guards on here, different cyclones on the inside. So just really refining all the parts and pieces.


Paul Guth:

Honestly, because Tobias likes working in metal. So he begins it, we all have our different processes, but metal is a good way to pretty quickly put something together, it's durable. And then we can take this machine and really do real time testing. And that's what we did. We put a blade on it and went out and started doing a bunch of testing because it's metal, it's very durable and we can work it. He'll also make lots of different components that go on the inside. So maybe it's just a box, but on the inside we have lots of different types of cyclones that we're putting in there, different filters, different motors, you know? So it creates a very durable box for us.


Sarah Williams:

What about timeline? About how long does the Frankenstein version take? Does it vary per tool or...


Paul Guth:

Yeah, it really varies per tool, but this one, Toby is off camera here. He's a little bit shy. So this one, Toby, we probably spent a good six months with this one. It didn't take long to build because we can build something in a week or less, even a few days sometimes, but then testing and testing and refining it, and how does the table interact? And do we have a clamp? Do we not have a clamp? These different parts that originally were built out of metal, we started 3D printing them and just seeing how they function and refine it.


Sarah Williams:

And do you guys focus one Frankenstein at a time or do you typically have multiple Frankensteins happening?


Paul Guth:

Well, we typically have one Frankenstein for that particular project.


Sarah Williams:

Got it.


Paul Guth:

We might have multiple Frankensteins for different projects because we'll move and develop different things at different times because sometimes we'll run into maybe a roadblock and we can't pursue this anymore. So we'll jump over into another product. Or sometimes we're waiting for things to be printed on the 3D printer and we can work on multiple things at once. But, for example, there's your dust tray, the Frankenstein version of the 228 dust tray. So this is where we work on wood and plastics as we develop different things again, a lot of 3D printing that we do. This is Matthew, he is another R and D technician to help us with the process. So we have, for example, this is a miter table we're working on for the 228 Cyclone and we have to print it in two pieces. So we'll glue these together. So this is a whole prototype 3D printed model of the 228. These are, I mentioned in the Frankenstein, Toby will take and make these metal plates and then we'll print out different types of cyclones. And then these modules can be just mounted into the Frankenstein version. And you we've got three different sets here, different dust guards or blade guards. And then we also do some molding. Matt, you want to tell us about the what's going on here?


Matt:

Sometimes we've got 3D printed parts, but if we need either a large quantity or it's something that we can only print on this size footprint, about a one piece square. So sometimes if we need to do a larger part, we'll do it in multiple pieces, we'll glue together and then we'll make a mold. So for example, this is a mold for a cyclone, and then this is a mold or the tile saw dust tray. And so we'll make a 3D printed one, we'll make a mold of it and then we'll pour plastic to make a solid plastic piece.


Sarah Williams:

That's pretty cool. I haven't even seen that and I'm back here, how many times?


Paul Guth:

Yeah. And these are silicone molds and that way if we want to go into testing, do some more durability testing before we have units completed, then we can mold them out and we can get real life testing with something that's very, very close to what the end product could be before we go to manufacturing. Because once we go to tooling, it could take them three to six months before we get this part and we want to make sure it's working correctly much earlier than that. So we'll mold things. Sometimes we're making things out of wood, plastics, in combination of wooden plastics and silicone. And so that's what this room is dedicated to is working with plastics and wood.


Sarah Williams:

What's that timeline look like? I know you said it varies per tool in the Frankenstein, but what about the 3D printing? Does it take a long time to print? What's that timeline?


Paul Guth:

Yeah. I don't know. For example, how long did it take to print these parts here, Matt?


Matt:

These are probably about six hours a piece, so it's not a fast process, but if we keep it running 24 hours a day, so we can work our way through parts fairly quickly.


Paul Guth:

But as you see this whole prototype here, that could have taken a week or more of pretty much 24 hours a day printing in order to get all those parts. And then we glue those all together. So the 3D printer, we try to keep it constantly working, especially over the weekend. It can work while we're sleeping. We like that.


Sarah Williams:

Basically an additional IQ team member.


Paul Guth:

Yeah.


Sarah Williams:

You spoke about tooling. Can you maybe explain what that is?


Paul Guth:

Well, the tooling, you can imagine this part right here, we've just 3D printed it, but at some point it's got to go to tooling. And what tooling is, is you imagine a great big mold that will close together and have a cavity in there. And then they'll inject plastic in there to produce this part. And that's what the tooling is. And it can take...


Sarah Williams:

Got it.


Paul Guth:

A long time to make those molds or the tooling for all the parts. And then you start looking at one machine, it can have 500 different parts and hundreds of those could require tooling. So it gets to be a long process plus very, very, very expensive.


Sarah Williams:

So it's more cost efficient and time efficient for us to get it right here.


Paul Guth:

Yeah.


Sarah Williams:

And then take it to tooling.


Paul Guth:

That's exactly what we do. We want to get it right here through the 3D printing process, through our molding process, just to make sure we're not introducing changes down the road. It gets very, very expensive.


Sarah Williams:

So because we want it to be right, we do a lot testing, right?


Paul Guth:

Yes.


Sarah Williams:

Should we go out and take them to the testing room?


Paul Guth:

Yeah, let's go to the testing area. So we'll go to the actual testing area and testing is pretty much a constant here at IQ. We're testing new products that we're bringing to market. We're testing individual components. For example, you saw those three sets of cyclones. Tobias will start testing each set of those cyclones and start measuring efficiencies on those and which one is the most efficient. And then we refine and refine until we get to a group of parts that we think we want to take to manufacturing. Also testing, we do a lot of blade testing. Here's a bunch of cutoffs for our marble blade testing that we've been doing. So we just go get white marble because it's kind of a challenge for one of our blades. So we're developing a marble blade. When we were testing for the 228, we wanted to test the blade and see how many cuts you can get out of a blade.


Paul Guth:

And that's almost 5,000 linear feet of cutting. And that's what you can expect out of a standard blade. And it's just the cheap red ceramic glaze tile, 12 inches long. So there's actually about 5,000 pieces here or more. And then we wear that blade completely out. And that's not the only test we do before we get to that point. We have done testing, hundreds of test blades in order to get to a refined blade that we think we're ready to go to manufacturing with it. And then before we do that, we do this type of testing to make sure we got the right combination of things working for us.


Sarah Williams:

So, a few questions. How do you determine what type of test to mirror everyday use? For durability and other things?


Paul Guth:

Well, for durability, a couple different ways if we're doing durability testing on a blade itself, so we want to do lots of cutting and there's no other way to do it, but cut a lot of material. Sometimes it's durability on just moving it around. We sometimes we give it to a contractor here locally and say, Hey, use this. How does it work? Did something break? Did the knob come off? Something simple like that. We're also doing outside, we'll do durability testing with our machines to just make sure they're meeting what we would expect as end users because we are tool users ourselves and just make sure we're providing a good product.


Sarah Williams:

And is there a standard set of tests that we know that we do, like these three tests for every single saw or it varies per tool here?


Paul Guth:

It varies per tool, but then there's a whole other, very stringent set of testing when you start talking about underwriters laboratory, CSA approval, CE approval for the European markets, those we actually pay an agency to go and do thermal dynamic testing, electrical testing, noise testing, all kinds of things. So it meets the criteria for the different markets.


Sarah Williams:

Speaking of different markets, what about dust? Can we take them to the...


Paul Guth:

Yeah.


Sarah Williams:

Our next set of testing, how we test to make sure that we're getting the best dust control as possible?


Paul Guth:

Yeah. At the core of everything we're doing is we're capturing dust and that's kind of our DNA is what we want to do. So one of the things that we built is what we call the TNO room. This is actually a replica of a room that they have in the Netherlands and they use it to test machines that are coming into the Dutch market and they actually, in that market, test for dust exposure and they'll give it a rating. So we have a dust monitor that gives you real time dust readouts. So we can put our products in here, do testing. We can also bring as in the development process, as we have got different ideas and we're trying to see efficiency, we can bring the products in here and see is that dust guard more efficient than version number one, or two, or 18 sometimes. So we're doing a lot of refinement and this room helps us to identify if we're making progress.


Sarah Williams:

And I know you said that this is for TNO, which is mainly Europe, but what about OSHA?


Paul Guth:

Yeah. For OSHA, then we've generated white papers to show what the permissible exposure level is. And OSHA has set those. So we actually do testing of all of our products. These are air pumps that we'll put on a person and have them go out and do real live testing. And then we can take that data, send it to a lab and then they generate the test results for us to see if we're meeting the permissible exposure limits that have been set by OSHA federally. And we have all those white papers with that data.


Sarah Williams:

Very cool. So we went over concept, we went over Frankenstein, we went over plastics and testing. So what's next?


Paul Guth:

Well, next thing we start, how do we take this to market? And you've met a few of the people, Matthew and some of the other team members, but there's a lot more behind the scenes that are happening. And so I'd like to introduce you to the rest of the team on what makes this all possible.


Sarah Williams:

Again, thank you guys for joining us. And we're going to to this opportunity to show you the final steps of what happens when we bring a tool to market. So here's our IQ team.


Team:

Hello.


Paul Guth:

Hello.


Sarah Williams:

Oh, well, hi again, Paul.


Paul Guth:

Yeah. So this is a little bit behind the scenes. This is like I said, it takes a team to bring these things to market. And this is the team. It takes a product development team, but then we got to do the marketing. Who's going to create all the artwork for the box? Who's going to create all the brochures and the information and get that all organized? Who is going to answer the phone when you guys have a problem or want to make an order? And that's what we have here. We have customer service, raise your hand customer service. Okay. We have our accounting team. We have our supply chain team. Okay. Cause those are the guys that are going to take the order and get it out to you. We have Jim Mackall our president, also running our day to day activities.


Paul Guth:

We have our HR person. And then our product development team, you guys raise your hand. Some of them are off screen. They're a little shy. And then again, the supply chain, they're the guys that are putting the pallets together and shipping stuff out to you. So again, it really takes a team, just like we developed these machines and if there was one part missing in those machines, they don't work. And it's the same with the team. We got to have all the components put together, working together to make sure we're putting a good product out and giving you guys customer service. And then after you have a problem or need some technical support. I forgot our tech support team. That's Kevin there, where's Bill?


Team:

He's on the phone.


Paul Guth:

Bill is on the phone.


Sarah Williams:

He's working, he's doing the shop.


Paul Guth:

He's the problem, yeah. So, like I said, it takes a team to solve, keep this thing going and provide good products to our customers. But again, it also takes you guys to believe in us, put that money down, to buy a product and believe in the IQ brand. And hopefully we're living up to our promises to give you guys a good product and we'll continue to do that. So, that's a little bit about the innovation and how we take things to market.


Sarah Williams:

We appreciate you guys joining us today.


Paul Guth:

Yep. And I'd like to thank everybody for joining us. And again, I'd like to thank this team because it's my privilege to be the CEO, but I'm just one and part of the team and these guys are doing a lot of hard work and I truly appreciate and am privilege to be part of it myself. So, we appreciate everybody's hard work and we look forward to producing more innovative products and showing them to you guys in the future. So it's a lot of fun.


Sarah Williams:

It's be a fun a few years coming up. Thank you guys.


Paul Guth:

All right. Thank you everyone.


Sarah Williams:

Next time.


Paul Guth:

Bye. Bye.