Collaboration Travels the World

"No man is an island,” said a poet, and almost no company stands alone in the 21st century.

The superb quality that characterizes Italian manufacturing now reaches around the world as companies and their customers collaborate on research, participate in knowledge sharing and exchange information that fosters expansion and growth in traditional and emerging markets.

Customers are loyal. For instance, Manny De Oliveira, president of 10-year-old United Marble & Granite Inc., a premier fabricator and employer of 50 employees in San Jose, Calif.,  is a customer of Breton USA which represents Breton S.p.A. (www.breton.it). In 2003, Breton was awarded the UNI EN ISO 9001—VISION 2000 Quality Certification.
  
According to De Oliveria, “I use Italian machinery and Breton provides very efficient service. I’d buy from them again and I highly recommend them. It’s important to maintain relationships. Good companies deserve credit.” He adds that the industry is well aware of excellent suppliers.

Partnering to educate

In the U.S., Clemson University (www.clemson.edu) is acclaimed for its focus on printing and packaging studies. The university recently welcomed the new Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics, poised to become the global leader in packaging design, graphics technology and research. A major contributor to the institute’s endeavors is Italian press manufacturer OMET S.r.l. (www.omet.it).

“When we were looking for a company to partner with, we were looking for one that could support our flexible packaging needs, both solvent and water-based, and multiple processes—both gravure and flexo. With printed electronics, you need to have variable printing processes and the ability to mix and match,” says Chip Tonkin, director of Sonoco Institute.

“Once we put together our requirements,”  he adds, “we realized that there was really only a handful of companies that had the capabilities we desired, and from a partnership standpoint, a company that would benefit from what we have to offer. We wanted a company with vision, one that would raise the bar of research and learning, one where we could get immersed in each other’s R&D. OMET has that vision and that desire.”

A true partnership has developed between the company and the university. Its centerpiece is the installation of an OMET Varyflex VF530-F1 seven-color press at the institute. The press, which OMET has donated, will be housed in the new Harris A. Smith building on Clemson’s campus.

“Cooperating with a university is very important to the development of new technology,” says OMET sales director Marco Calcagni. “It became clear that this would be an excellent opportunity for OMET to increase its presence in North America.”

Amerigo Manzini, OMET manager, comments, “The Varyflex is a true multi-substrate press with the ability to print on any substrate from .5 mil unsupported film to 24-pt board. It offers combination printing with HD flexo, silkscreen cassettes, gravure cassettes, and hot/cold foil cassettes that slide in to any station on the press.

“Additionally, OMET has an offset print station that can be added to the Varyflex to make it an even more versatile platform. The press platform at Clemson will change and expand as Clemson’s requirements grow. This will be a cutting-edge facility that will push the boundaries of packaging. We are an engineering-focused company and innovation is our passion, and this matches well with the focus of the institute.”

The research and development that Sonoco Institute students, teachers and the OMET team anticipate is based on the school’s holistic approach to packaging design, which covers four areas of focus: packaging design workflows, sustainability, the consumer experience, and printed electronics.

“We’re the only facility of its kind with these capabilities,” Tonkin says. “We have everything under one roof—the lab, prepress equipment, and the OMET press. Our pitch to the industry is that you can come here to Clemson and make your ideas work.”

The facility will be OMET’s North American press demonstration and training center, giving the company a permanent home at the university and expanding OMET’s presence across the Atlantic. OMET will run print demonstrations for customers on the Varyflex, plus training seminars for customers, and seminars for the converting and packaging industries.

“North America is one of the world’s most important markets,” says Calcagni. “The relationship between OMET and Clemson University demonstrates that cooperation between industry and education can produce significant technological developments.”

Partnering to produce

According to Ralph Keller, president of the U.S.-based Association for Manufacturing Excellence (www.ame.org),  “In the day of the Internet, your competitor is just a mouse click away from your best customer. With the world virtually shrinking at a rapid rate, how can companies become globally competitive and continue to grow and succeed? It’s not an easy issue for most companies and requires a well thought-out strategy and a well executed implementation plan. For many companies, it requires owners and managers to really understand that this is a different world and they must either adapt or change, or their companies will, like dinosaurs, become extinct.”

Keller continues, “A few enlightened companies have adopted a strategy of global expansion where they have undertaken the extremely difficult task of finding customers for their products in global markets. Once they have found these customers and started supplying them from their home locations, they either establish local operations in these markets to expand their reach or they find local partners that can produce their products for the foreign markets. Once established with multiple manufacturing location capability, it becomes easier to continue to expand global operations. There is only a small fraction of manufacturing companies globally who have an active export strategy, much less a global production capability strategy, but it is these companies that will survive and prosper in the virtually shrinking world.”

Partnering to share expertise

Collaboration with prominent global manufacturers has led Ronchi Mario S.p.A. (www.ronchi.it) to maintain higher levels of implementation of technological and quality advancements than those of its competitors, according to the company.

A partner now nearly-100 years old, Clorox Company (www.clorox.com) is a leading manufacturer of laundry bleach and household cleaners and disinfectants. Its equipment must survive in extremely corrosive manufacturing environments involving liquid and vapor contact. Clorox offered to share its expertise and experience in materials selection and surface treatments for its equipment with Ronchi Mario.

Clorox continues to offer critical feedback on materials, treatments and functional design improvements to maximize the lifecycle of its equipment. This synergy offers a benefit to each company, creating robust end products for corrosive manufacturing environments.

Another partner, Procter and Gamble (www.pg.com), a world-leading manufacturing company with diverse lines of top quality products in consumer goods markets, maintains its best-in-class position by anticipating competitive challenges and focusing on consumer trends. P&G achieves manufacturing excellence through a goal of delivering better quality goods to the market more efficiently and cost effectively—making the company the market leader in household, personal, hair care, and oral care products.

The P&G and Ronchi Mario partnership has grown over years of mutual cooperation across geographic borders. Shared technical solutions, joint development and equipment design enhancements resulted in additional manufacturing and operational efficiencies. These are exported worldwide to all P&G facilities producing the same or similar products to become standardized manufacturing models.
 
The sharing is vital. Global customers invest time and resources in R&D to seek advances in technology that best suit their needs for improved throughput, greater efficiencies and reduced maintenance. Findings are shared during the collaborative process of specifying or requesting implementation of new concepts by customers for new equipment or upgrades.

Collaborative feedback from existing and potential customers lets the company preserve and expand its global market position and build strong continuing partnerships. The collaboration with global customers can be measured in terms of continuing worldwide market penetration, permitted by collaborative enhanced design flexibility, shortened manufacturing cycles, levels of applied technology and improved efficiencies for end users.

Partnering to seek solutions

For Marchesini Group S.p.A. (www.marchesini.com), more than 85 percent of group revenues are generated by exports, mainly in the U.S. and Europe to customers such as Pfizer, Wyeth, and L’Oreal.

The company produces complete lines to handle the entire packaging process, as well as stand-alone automatic packaging machines for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors.

The Group maintains a leading role in Italy internationally and operates on the basis of a mission described by Maurizio Marchesini, managing director: “The packaging sector is continuously evolving,  and to be competitive a company must constantly address innovations in technology. We are convinced that we can be the right partner, working together to search among new possibilities for the ideal solution that is best suited to the needs of our customers.”

Machines initially produced in the various Marchesini Group locations or in partner companies are later forwarded to the central production facility in Pianoro, to be assembled in complete lines and shipped to customers worldwide. Because of modularity, the lines are able to adapt to the layout of any environment (straight lines to a range of geometric shapes), ensuring flexibility. The phase of production engineering and design for each machine takes place at headquarters, in close collaboration between Marchesini and the customer.

As Italian manufacturing marches around the globe, collaboration is embraced by companies that value the potential of their markets and move ahead to bring unparalleled quality to their industry. Partnerships have become widespread in the global mix.

Breton S.p.A.
www.breton.it

Clemson University
www.clemson.edu

OMET S.r.l.
www.omet.it

Ronchi Mario S.p.A.
www.ronchi.it

Clorox Company
www.clorox.com

Procter and Gamble
www.pg.com

Marchesini Group S.p.A.
www.marchesini.com

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