Innovation in Acadiana: Metal Shark Boats and Stuller Emphasize Efficiency in Design
Stuller Brings Global Innovation to Jewelry Design
Mobile robots work beside people inside Stuller Inc.’s 600,000-square-foot jewelry manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Louisiana, the biggest operation of its kind in the U.S.
overnight delivery of
items to 40,000
Outfitted with sensors, touch screens and voices, the robots glide along aisles delivering components to Stuller employees who craft ring settings and other pieces for independent jewelry stores as far away as Australia and Slovakia.
Nearby, robotic arms sort diamonds and assemble delicate earrings, repetitive tasks identified by Stuller’s on-site research and development team as ideal applications for the high-tech machines.
Harnessing technology in pursuit of speed and quality is at the core of Stuller’s operations. Founder and CEO Matt Stuller, who was 19 when he began selling jewelry out of his car, built the business on next-day delivery. These days, Stuller provides overnight delivery of more than 200,000 items to 40,000 global customers
Its Lafayette facility is a marvel of automation. Lasers cut gold plate. Mills roll out 500 feet of gold wire. Its metal fabrication team turns out hundreds of thousands of wedding bands each year that are die-struck, a process that uses extremely high pressure to produce a highly durable, heirloom quality piece.
At Stuller, robots work alongside employees as the company crafts jewelry for stores across the world.
Quality is an International Standard
Stuller’s commitment to innovation extends beyond its three North American sites and facilities in Spain and Thailand. Stuller credits its 1,200 employees for many of its best practices, and offers them groundbreaking benefits in return. The Lafayette headquarters includes a telemedicine clinic that uses two-way audio and high-definition video to give employees remote access to a doctor.
The aim of Stuller’s technology isn’t volume per se. The company makes thousands of different items each day, including one-of-a-kind rings and other pieces designed by consumers through countertop customization software that Stuller provides to its jewelry store customers. The renderings go to Stuller, which makes the custom pieces and ships them to clients within days.
Stuller was the first to offer a line of trademarked Canadian diamonds that can be tracked from mine to market in recognition of consumer interest in ethical mining practices.
Our customers look to us on innovation. They look to us to drive jewelry trends.
Metal Shark Boats, Jeanerette
Metal Shark Drives Watercraft Ingenuity for Global Clients
Headquartered in Jeanerette, Louisiana, Metal Shark Boats designs and manufactures ships and boats for law enforcement agencies, the U.S. military and strategic allies around the world. Metal Shark vessels as long as 250 feet cruise waters across North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The shipbuilder’s 30-member team of naval architects and marine engineers also designs passenger ferries, fire rescue boats, work boats, recreational watercraft and other specialty vessels.
Metal Shark is one of the leading shipyards of its type, producing more than 150 vessels each year. The company uses innovative design to win contracts for single boats and entire fleets. Metal Shark pioneered the use of “pillarless” glass to improve safety and visibility in pilothouse boats operated from on-board cabins.
For response boats used by the U.S. Coast Guard, Metal Shark designed a vessel big enough to carry a five-member crew in the pilothouse but small enough to be pulled on a trailer or loaded onto a C-130 aircraft.
Metal Shark Boats produces more than 150 vessels each year, including passenger ferries, fire-rescue boats, work boats and more.
Instead of shrinking the boat to fit inside the plane, Metal Shark came up with a trailer that can transform into a “cradle” that lowers the boat, thereby allowing it to fit inside the military transport plane.
For the U.S. Navy, Metal Shark developed an enclosed, full-height head compartment that can be raised from the pilothouse floor of open-bow vessels with the push of a button. The compartment converts to a chart table when it is lowered back into the pilothouse floor, something essential to operator visibility. The Navy was impressed by this design for its force-protection boat and awarded Metal Shark the construction contract.
In 2018, Metal Shark Boats began production of new 150- to 350-passenger boats destined for such markets as New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.
“We’re definitely busy at both of our facilities; but thanks to efficient engineering and production management, our operations are optimized for volume,” says Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s vice president of commercial sales. “We don’t need to ramp up to take on additional projects; we just keep feeding the machine.”