Martin Professional has announced its aim to double its output, from 2000 levels, by 2005. This ambitious goal will require top-of-the-line manufacturing facilities, such as Happy Factory, which Martin opened last fall in Fredrikshavn, Denmark. It is a sleekly designed building that boasts a number of exceptional amenities. After a visit, the rather odd name — there's even a sign out front featuring a smiling factory — seems justified.
Designed as a facility where Martin's highest quality products, such as the MAC 600 and MAC 2000, are to be built, Happy Factory covers 130,000 sq. ft. of space. Approximately 170 workers are employed there, bringing much-needed employment to Fredrikshavn, where the local fishing industry has suffered in recent years. In other Martin factories, teams of workers pool their efforts, working together as a group to build each individual unit. Here, the traditional assembly line is given a state-of-the-art twist.
In order to ensure a smooth flow of work, the Martin team has come up with a highly original parts-retrieval system. All necessary parts are stored in 42,000 plastic cartons, each of which is marked with a bar code. The cartons are stored in three towering aisles. At the beginning of the shift, workers enter into a computer the number and model of units they are scheduled to build that day. Three robots, one for each aisle, then peruse the inventory shelves, retrieving the correct cartons by reading the bar codes. (An interesting side note: The products are stored in entirely random fashion. That way, if one of the robots breaks down, the others will still have access to all necessary parts. The robots also work at night, when the factory is closed, rearranging boxes on the shelves to ensure the random order is maintained.) With this rapid automated system at work, it is possible for a new MAC 2000 to be assembled every few minutes.
Architecturally, Happy Factory is in line with other Martin facilities, favoring soaring, open spaces with lots of natural light rather than the low ceilings, cubicles, and clutter that one finds in so many other companies in this industry. At 5pm, after the work day is over, the building's architectural lighting comes on, and the space is transformed. Much of the interior features theatrical-style trussing used as architectural details, and the trussing is bathed in saturated colors from Martin moving lights. The view from the nearby road at night is of a glittering glass box filled with ever-changing colors.
Given its expansive interior, social uses are being found for Happy Factory as well. For example, the venue played host to Martin's annual sales conference, March 9-10. More than 40 Martin distributors, subsidiaries, and affiliated companies from around the globe attended the event, which included seminars, a gala dinner, and awards show, with entertainment provided by members of Martin staff. Prize winners at the event included ASL, Switzerland (Jem Distributor of the Year); Ecler, Spain (Mach Distributor of the Year); Martin Hong Kong (Martin Lighting Distributor of the Year); Musikos Expresas, Lithuania (DJ/Club Distributor of the Year); Show Technology, Austria (Stage, Studio, and Event Distributor of the Year); Martin Canada (Best MAC 2000 Sales); Martin US (Subsidiary of the Year, Entertainment and Architectural); A&T Trade, Russia (Best Effort, Architectural); Panou, Greece (Architectural Distributor of the Year); and Fairlight, Holland (Distributor of the Year).