For more than five years, the Manutan brand has been equipping companies and communities with everyday products. As the materials and equipment are intended for everyday use by the employees, quality is an essential criterion. In fact, a reliable and effective product contributes directly to the health, safety and well-being of the end users. 

All products are subject to a strict process that guarantees a high level of quality across the Manutan brand. These high standards enable us to offer a guarantee that is unique in the market: 10 years for all products and 3 years for consumables. Thibault Brauge, Supplier Quality Assurance Manager for the Manutan group, explains how quality is an essential part of the listing process for the Manutan brand. 

Please could you give us a brief overview of your career?  

T. Brauge: I have more than 20 years of experience in the area of product quality. Before joining the Manutan group, I worked for large Business-to-Customer retailers and international purchasing organisations. In particular, I spent a great deal of time in China checking the quality of products manufactured there. That was a real challenge! 

Using a proven method and an international network of providers, I now use my skills for the benefit of Manutan group customers. As a Supplier Quality Assurance Manager, I ensure the quality of all Manutan brand products from office and warehouse equipment, industrial supplies and tooling to packaging, safety, hygiene, outside space and catering industry products. 

How is the quality of Manutan brand products checked? 

T. Brauge: With its own brand, Manutan has the same responsibility as a manufacturer. To ensure a high level of quality, I am involved throughout the product lifecycle: 

  • Upstream, by analysing all products before they are listed 
  • Downstream, by drawing on after sales service data (breakage rates, overall satisfaction etc.). 

The upstream part is a fundamental stage of a true continuous improvement process. After identifying the supplier and product that we want to list, we proceed by: 

  • Identifying the target product i.e. a product that acts as a point of reference in terms of quality 
  • Collecting the product sample and documentation (regulatory documentation, instruction manual, certifications and labels etc.) 
  • Analysing this product via internal and external tests and bundles of documents  

As the next step, I prepare a full report on the evaluated product. I do this together with the purchasers, product managers and Manutan brand manager. We decide whether the product is suitable for the Manutan brand and if we ultimately want to list it. 

How do you perform the internal product tests? 

T. Brauge: Internally, I am responsible for the product tests. I proceed on a case by case basis according to the product and its characteristics. This means that, for each item, I create new tests and compare my sample with the target product that was previously selected.  

This stage enables us to check the fundamental criteria: 

  • Cleanliness: Is the product clean? Are the finishing touches neat? Are there any traces of the moulds on plastic items? Has the packaging been well made? 
  • Assembly: Is it easy to assemble the product? Is the final output satisfactory from both an optical and functional perspective? 
  • Robustness: Can my product bear heavy loads? Can it withstand impacts? 
  • Safety: Is the user’s health and safety protected throughout the entire product lifecycle? 

The key is to imagine that you are the user. I use my tools to try and replicate all types of use and I check the composition of the product right down to the smallest detail. Let’s take a desk as an example; I can use weights and a mallet to simulate heavy products that could be put on the desk. I sometimes even generate impacts that could suddenly arise during everyday life. 

Recently, I even went so far as to cut a step in half to check the internal materials of the pads and understand how the feet were attached! It is essential that the balance and solidity are guaranteed for such a product. 

When would you use external laboratories? 

T. Brauge: If I feel there is a need to perform extra tests or if I do not have the technical means to evaluate a product, I reach out to my network of providers. Depending on the nature of the required test (mechanical, electrical etc.), I contact a specific laboratory and ask them to suggest test protocols and perform the selected one.  

The most recent example was an electric desk. The issue was being able to ensure that the electrical system would operate for ten years, as we state in our guarantee. After conducting basic tests internally, I commissioned a service provider to test the product lifetime in real conditions. So we placed the product in a heat chamber at 45° C with a specific humidity rate. We then simulated ten years of use, in concentrated cycles, with a sixty kilogram weight on the table! 

Ultimately it is this uncompromising quality process, which combines a rigorous supplier selection process with full analysis of the products, that enables us to offer a 10 year guarantee for Manutan brand products.