INNOVATIONS AT GLASSTEC
What are the innovations that you have just presented at Glasstec?
Glasstec for Zecchetti is the ideal way to demonstrate to the entire hollow glass sector what we have done, and better still, what we will be doing in 2011. With regards to the recently-held edition of Glasstec, Zecchetti’s aim was that of bringing innovations to the hollow glass market with products, above all, for ‘difficult containers’, because now our clients are diversifying, especially with regards to non-round and square-, rectangular- or even strange shapes. Thanks to our experience in the Italian market with one of its hollow glass manufacturers, we realized it was now time to demonstrate the solutions that we have for all glassmakers with particular products for conveyors, systems of division, orientation and recognition of the diverse sizes and shapes of the glass it...
INNOVATIONS AT GLASSTEC
What are the innovations that you have just presented at Glasstec?
Glasstec for Zecchetti is the ideal way to demonstrate to the entire hollow glass sector what we have done, and better still, what we will be doing in 2011. With regards to the recently-held edition of Glasstec, Zecchetti’s aim was that of bringing innovations to the hollow glass market with products, above all, for ‘difficult containers’, because now our clients are diversifying, especially with regards to non-round and square-, rectangular- or even strange shapes. Thanks to our experience in the Italian market with one of its hollow glass manufacturers, we realized it was now time to demonstrate the solutions that we have for all glassmakers with particular products for conveyors, systems of division, orientation and recognition of the diverse sizes and shapes of the glass items, as well as, of course, with regards to palletizing. And with regards to palletizing, we realized that our clients found it difficult to choose the rightmachine to suit their needs – both present and future.
The two basic machines that most companies of this sector have are pick & place and sweep-off machines, and container manufacturers often had to choose between these two different machines. Zecchetti’s response to this dilemma is the new patented solution that transforms our traditional machine - the pick & place - into a universal machine - the R-Pal with the new Multi-Purpose Palletizing Head M.P.H.. It can start as a pick & place machine, and additional/different equipment can be added at a later date. Another benefit is that a container manufacturer can, for example, have three machines equipped differently and those different systems are absolutely interchangeable. This means that it is no longer necessary to have three ‘complete’ machines each with a complete series of dedicated equipment. Glassmakers can buy three ‘modular’ machines and equip them as the need arises, now and in the future, also interchanging and adding equipment on the different machines. A perfect example of this is a typical glassmaker who has a transport line going to three different terminal units that palletize. With Zecchetti’s new modular machine, each machine can be the same base, but can be equipped and interchanged to carry out the operations necessary for each product being transported and for each process that must be carried out.
Normally, particular shaped bottles and containers must be handled by means of special inflating tubes because they cannot be ‘pushed’ as normal shaped ones. In other situations, we are obliged to move the containers by pushing, as for example, with small bottles. These are the two extremes as far as palettization is concerned, but there is a myriad of different situations in between depending on the shape of the container and the type of glass it is made of.
Obviously, the more we use the ‘sweep-off’ mode, the fewer problems we will have with the machine and with changeover of format. This, of course, is the dream of allglassmakers – having a single
machine that does everything!
Diversification can also be seen in the palletizing format – with trays or with different layer separators as per the different packaging needs of each client. And this can demonstrate how the sweep off mode is not really as universal as it is said to be, because in some situations we are obliged to use the pick and place mode. Obviously, our ‘old’ universal palletizer could be integrated with a pick-up head and we still consider it a very valid machine. However, all these so-called universal machines are quite problematic as they often need to be modified because of lack of space. Zecchetti’s pick and place machine – the Column Palletizer –was created about 30 years ago, and has, since then, continued to undergo development.
Being basically single-column machines: a rotating column for the pick-up head; a stationary single column for the centering unit; and an interleaver column with the parts in movement always working in a rotating way means that many different types of layout can be created – even extreme types – providing the best access to the machines.
What do you expect from the near future, and 2011 in particular?
As leader in the PET sector, Zecchetti entered the glass sector about 20 years ago with an ambitious goal: that of maintaining its And which will be the target companies and geographical areas for this new type of machinery – large groups, which seem to be open-minded to new solutions, or medium- to large glassworks that are still family-owned? Zecchetti is active in almost every country, in both larger glassworks as well as smaller companies. The latter are those active in the production of special items and this is a sector that can find good response with our new machine. Being able to transport up to six types of bottles all produced at the same time, right from the exit of the annealing lehr is the ideal solution for glassmakers with continuously changing production types. The name Zecchetti is wellknown throughout the world at all the major glassmaking groups –about ten at the most – and they usually have more than one supplier of machinery – Zecchetti included of course! A situation that also creates healthy competition among machinery manufacturers, maintaining the market active. This, however, also creates fierce competition as far as prices are concerned, which is not always a good situation. We are not used to discussing or negotiating prices but technology yes – and this is what we want to continue to do. Making different machines and proposing different solutions to be able to satisfy a wider range of glassmakers and their needs.
And Glasstec for Zecchetti was the perfect way to inform people about this aim of standing out from the crowd with our style and quality, which will, as always, continue as part of our market strategy in 2011 too.
What about your worldwide market presence? What can you tell us about the countries that are the most active for Zecchetti? We can say that our analysis of the worldwide market is quite clear. We are perfectly aware that in some countries our ‘traditional’ approach does not really work. In some of the large and interesting markets – China and Brazil for example – it is very difficult to carry out direct sales. In Brazil, because of the very high customs taxes applied, in India because there is quite a good internal market there already, and in China, where they have started manufacturing machinery – quite simple up to now. Zecchetti has more or less a global presence, but we have realized that in the above-mentioned countries for example, we need to have a different type of marketing strategy, which is based more on collaboration with local companies. What we are trying to do in certain countries is to identify the most suitable way of entering the market. Zecchetti has a very strong presence in the United States with our palletizers for PET, with about 200 lines installed, and there is our branch there – Zecchetti USA, where we started about 13-14 years ago, when we were able to win against local competition with our completely new way of palletizing PET. These fully-automatic machines were bought by almost every PET manufacturer, making our name known in the market, enabling us to set up our branch, which provides high-level technical assistance, spare parts as well as commercial activities. And, therefore, seeing the good results of the PET market we are now working to achieve the same goals with the glass market too! In fact, the extremely traditionalist US market is now looking for more automatism and is already starting to use a different approach to palletizing, similar to the European one and, therefore, opening the market more. This means that the market you are expecting to get the most satisfaction from in the short- to medium-term is therefore the United States?
No, not really! Other than India, Brazil, Central- and North America, where we are working hard, Zecchetti also has some important projects with other countries, such as the Middle East, for example. With regards to Europe, we know that Eastern Europe is undergoing a positive trend, with Poland, for example, now in the position to invest, as well as Slovenia. Speaking about other countries of Europe, work is more concentrated on the substitution and updating of machinery, due to the high costs of raw materials and fuel. There are, however, many glassworks, especially in France, Germany and Italy.
Italy is a good and important market for Zecchetti but Germany was the first and best country for our sector and was the country where we sold our first rotating column machine. It is, in fact almost a monopoly of Zecchetti with 60 per cent of machinery sold by us. These countries are followed by Spain, France and the United Kingdom, even if not on a regular basis.
What about joint ventures? Are you thinking about this kind of collaboration with international companies? If so, in which countries?
We are discussing this type of situation at present but nothing definitive has been decided yet. Zecchetti, however, will not be opening a production unit in any of these countries. For us, the joint venture, in the case we decide to make this kind of move, would obviously be in the form of collaboration with a company there, and will involve exchange of technology, with production carried out by the local company. In many countries, until now, palletizing has been carried out by hand, also thanks to the abundance of human labour. The situation is, however, starting to change, especially with regards to India, creating market thanks to the presence of the large glassmaking groups exporting glass containers. This in turn means the need for adequate pallets and palletizing systems suitable for the overseas markets. It is therefore now the perfect time to enter the market.
Sometimes a crisis has the ability of shaking the market. Companies that want to stay in the market and grow need to be alert and not just think that they are strong because of what they have done in the past or because their name is well known. The crisis in the United States, which started off the entire global crisis, has given us the push to do more. Our company has always had the ability and strength to react, be appreciated by clients, and to be able to turn the tables in our favour. In fact, we are already seeing the first results from the actions that we have taken, with new clients coming to us, which is a really positive situation. Our next developments are those of automation, increasing speed, and the need to have high-speed production changeover with – as we already have in our PET palletizers – the One Push Button Changeover. And, of course, the developments we had on show at Glasstec were just the beginning of these developments.