Call them mücke, zancudos or les moucherons – mosquitos are an annoyance. There are 176 species recognized in the United States alone and each one seems intent on spoiling our leisure time and driving us to distraction. Worse, some are capable of transmitting serious disease, such as malaria, yellow fever and West Nile virus.

Existing mosquito repellants are, largely, imperfect solutions. The scent of citronella equally repels both guests and mosquitos; these torches lose effectiveness once the wind kicks up. Ditto coils and sprays. Zappers kill more moths than anything else, despite the satisfaction of hearing that definitive zzzzzzt! sound.

A leading household product manufacturer had been sourcing a lantern-shaped product, which was quite popular. The compact product covers a small candle that burns under a chemically permeated strip. The candle heats the strip, which releases vapors and keeps mosquitos away from a 15 by 15 foot area for four hours, without annoying odors.

The lantern is reusable and consumers can repurchase refills, which results in an appealing razor-razorblades sales model.

Due to the nature of the market segment, demand remains tied to the regional severity of the mosquito hatch in any given season, and production levels, therefore, fluctuate.

SussexIM was called upon to help supply product during a period of overflow demand and quickly saw areas for improvement, in product design and manufacture.

In our analysis, we were convinced that we could offer a better design – one that represented a turn-key solution, versus the existing contract packaging model – that could shorten supply chains, please retailers, encourage repeat consumer purchase and beat offshore pricing, after all cost factors were considered.

With the need to reach the market before the next big buying cycle, the customer put us to the test.


A SussexIM team of all key stakeholders was quickly assembled, including company representatives from tooling, sales, automation, design, finance and more.

The team studied the product from a variety of viewpoints, analyzed the current production scheme, and how it was sold at retail and used by the consumer. This lantern could be created in a more efficient flow and packaged in a way that made it more appealing to space-starved retailers – without compromising its core competencies, such as durability, flame retardance, resistance to tipping and ability to repel mosquitos.

And, in addition to the piece’s sturdiness and functionality, it could still be made to look attractive in consumers’ backyards.

The SussexIM team sensed an opportunity to grow far beyond “second molder” status with this brand owner and become the provider of a value-added, integrated solution. Areas of improvement, in terms of product design and manufacturing and assembly processes, were identified.

The team got in touch with its inner poka-yoke capabilities. Work began.


Poka-yoke is a Japanese term for the battery of lean manufacturing techniques that enable equipment operators to avoid mistakes and smooth processes.

Such mechanisms save time and money and breed new levels of production efficiency, in three ways. In mass production systems, poka-yoke (or, “mistake-proofing”) can identify product defects, alert operators to potential problems or determine whether process steps have been followed.

The product design, as originally conceived by the customer, included both a critical metal piece, and molded plastic parts. The metal piece was to be sent to a middle man, to install in the plastics parts from the molder.

The SussexIM lean production, moldable design approach was to create an assembly that included the two molded PP parts in-line, timed to match up with just-in-time metal piece production –the last piece required.

This enabled the production team to fully assemble the product, put it right in the box and ship it to the distribution center – a completed packaged product in 24 seconds, versus holding a warehouse full of components.

No more middle-man. Further, the price was reduced, thanks to newly-found supply chain efficiencies. Fewer hands touching the product, even at a higher cost rate, resulted in significant savings.

Quality was built-in and the new process passed all product testing parameters for tipping, flame resistance, crush resistance and overall durability. Plus, it looked great in consumers’ backyards.

For the SussexIM customer, the reduced unit costs and overall trade and consumer review of the product yielded success .

“Our bold, integrated, in-line solution helped build success for this popular household product,” says Sales Manager Fabiszak. “The new product design was improved and manufacturing and assembly processes streamlined – all under seasonal deadline pressure, with our dedicated U.S. workforce in Sussex, Wisconsin.

“As partners with this customer, we worked together to bring a superior product to market that sells well, is highly regarded by consumers – it really works and looks great – and exemplifies the core brand positioning of this innovative and trusted household product maker.”

Adds President and CEO Keith Everson, “We bring a lot to the table in our collaborations with customers. This is a prime example of our analytical approach, which results in production efficiencies that deliver reduced costs AND enhanced product functionality and overall appeal – to retailers and consumers.”


In the past, consumers have been disappointed by gimmicky mosquito repelling products, from coils, to foggers, to zappers, to the ubiquitous citronella torches.

This product just flat out works and is trusted by consumers. It is carried in all major mass retail channels and delivers on sales.

As one online reviewer writes, “This baby is for real. It works fabulously.”

Sussex IM continues as a supplier for this trusted name in consumer household products.