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A "day in the life" at the Armcross factory   

April 2009

 

On a sunny April day we had the unique opportunity to visit the recently relocated Armcross production plant in Dusseldorf, Germany as well as get to know the people who invented the exclusive LeoPro.

Armcross, a German company?

Armcross is a relatively young company and trade mark, founded in 2006 (that caught our attention at IWA in 2007 introducing the LeoPro crossbow) and built on the heritage of a former crossbow company named Fortes that presented its production at the IWA Show 2001 and IWA Show 2002 under the trade mark ARLET. This company was founded in 1996 and was based in Moscow. Unfortunately Russian legislation proved to be a little restrictive  when it came to exporting crossbow to other countries. This unfortunate situation is common to many countries where crossbow are ruled by ancient laws that where conceived to restrict usage in war rather than seeing a crossbow as a sport tool. In order to fulfill its global sale goal Armcross saw no other choice than moving the production plant on a more commercially friendly land. They found a new home in Germany , a few minutes outside Dusseldorf , a land that is central to Europe commerce and offers many opportunities in both transportation and manufacturing.

The “total quality” man.

The new company, Armcross GmbH, is led by a volcanic men: Thomas Kahlhardt that is in charge of production and sales is constantly challenged with working with a global team dislocated over four continents. Thomas is a strong believer of a “total quality” and constantly push this message across the company. In his vision product quality is something you can obtain only if quality becomes the inspiration of every single step: from design to manufacturing, assembly, testing and delivery. I am not and industry strategy expert at all but I can just tell that if you take a close look at the LeoPro you can see that quality is there! In order to insure that quality is met at every step they went a great length: As you may think there are steps that need more attention than others. For example if you have a supplier in the far east and something goes wrong and you discover this only when you open the box here in Germany with the next shipment weeks away this may be a big problem. Armcross simply set up the supplier chain with a local quality assurance engineer (actually they sent over a German engineer) that checks everything before shipping. As if the “total quality” challenge was not tasking enough Thomas is constantly thinking on how to improve the product /process. Mr. Kahlhardt  is also actively setting up an international dealer network in order to let you see, evaluate and possibly purchase your LeoPro close to your home.

An amazing product

When I first saw the LeoPro crossbow at the IWA show in 2007 I was simply amazed, it was love at first sight. At first it was just by the look: the LeoPro is as sexy as a car designed by Pininfarina. The look is also completely unconventional you cannot overlook it. As in love first is sight then comes intellect the LeoPro really will get you in love as you handle it. The scale says 8 pounds , not much but certainly there are lighter ones, what is really amazing is how these 8 pound are distributed: most crossbows are heavy in the worst place, the front end , creating inertia that will frustrate your movements. Not this one . the LeoPro concentrates mass close to the pistol grip, not just if feels much lighter it is just amazing to take into aim. A long discussion with Pavel Ivanov , inventor and designer of the LeoPro (even if he insists the inventor of the concept is Leonardo DaVinci) revealed many aspects: the stock is made of ABS plastic filled by fiber glass (15%) and it is mated to the crossbow body in a way that there are no single exposed screws to disturb the ergonomically shaped lines. Most metal components are made by high grade anodized aluminum (7075) to provide strength yet remain light. Limbs are made in the US by Gordon Composites Inc. , an authority in this field) , string and cables are also made in the US. The LeoPro is possibly the unique compound crossbow where string can be field replaced thanks to a supplied (very simple) tool (talk about design quality now!) The LeoPro offers some respectable performance too: at 175 Lbs , using a power stroke of 13” this little marvel is capable of 305 FPS (with a 420 grains arrow) . Trigger pull is factory set at 3 pounds. The design of the crossbow LEOPRO is protected by 2 patents. The famous American company Horton produces crossbows RECON 175 and VISION 175 under license of the company ARMCROSS.

From Product to System

As amazing and sweet as the LeoPro can be Armcross people just consider this a little piece of the whole picture. Armcross engineers in fact did not stop at designing a crossbow they designed a system to give shooters the ability to fulfill their shooting experience. Part of this system is a quick detach quiver, a rope cocker, a soft case to carry all your equipment, soft but strong enough to keep its shape whit a men standing on it as Pavel Ivanov proudly and impressively demonstrated himself. A crossbow carry backpack named Igel-Fix server also as hands free transportation for crossbow, quiver and all hunting accessories.

Challenges

One of the most amazing (to me) challenges that Armcross is facing is working with geographically dispersed teams. In order to build the LeoPro some parts come from US, some are manufactured in Germany and some other in Taiwan and China , add to this that the design team led by Pavel Ivanov is based in Moscow and now you can imagine how busy Mr. Kahlhardt must be. In order to make things happen they widely use latest state of the art technology. Using 3D cad programs the various mechanical parts are engineered and analyzed then these are shared and discussed with manufacturing and assembly teams using video conferencing and high speed internet connections. Virtual teams collaborate and offer their opinion based upon their competency looking at virtual 3D model long before machining the first metal piece. I came into a room where a production meeting was going on with two people from production were discussing with the R&D director there was also an interpreter but she was actually in Moscow and was offering her contribution via internet video … amazing.

 

Thanks to Mr. Kahlhardt, Mr. Ivanov and all Armcross team for letting us in and sharing this with us.

 

       
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