Labellers: the winning Made in Italy

Apertura-portaleWe are in Porto Mantovano, in that portion of the Po Valley Plain enclosed between the provinces of Mantua, Brescia and Verona.
To this strip of land in the north-east of Italy P.E. Labellers, a leading company in the design and production of labelling machines, is profoundly attached ever since it was founded in April 1974. For P.E. Labellers this year is very important: it is the year when it celebrates its 40th birthday.
Forty years during which the company’s growth never stopped, and the technologies, developed and proposed to the market, have been constantly improved and refined in terms of numbers and varieties.

From the regional to the global market

At the beginning – refers Bruno Negri, Chairman of P.E. Labellers, and co-founder of the company with Mario Ballarottiour business was mainly the design, construction, and maintenance of a small number of labellers for low production speeds, destined for the regional market. Already after a few years, however, we had expanded our production range to the domestic market. In 1978, we began to expose our machines at some of the European trade fairs, and in 1984 we crossed the European borders and landed notably in the United States and South East Asia. In the years beyond 2000, our first foreign seats were born“.
At present P.E. Labellers can count on a production site in Cincinnati (USA) – 3,500 square meters – and one in São Paulo in Brazil, of 1,500 square meters. Premises for the sale and service are active in France, Scotland and China, and a new production facility is being opened-up in Algeria, which will serve the Maghreb market. Moreover, a new seat in South-East Asia is scheduled for opening.
We ask: how is the sales force selected and trained? “From Italy – explains Mr. Negri – we operate the sales force throughout the world. All managers in charge of assisting foreign sales offices, especially for the presentation of innovative technologies or complex machines leave from here“.
Approximately 400 people are working in the Group, about 280 of which in Italy.

Passion for export

Mr. Negri, how many labellers does your Group manufacture every year?
About 400; less than 5% of the total is directed to the Italian market whereas the others are for exports“.
Did this strong increase in exports intervene in recent years, or is it a structural feature of your company?
Already in the 1980s, the national market/exports ratio was of 50 to 50. The current situation is just an almost natural development. After all, Italy does not offer a vast market space for development, and the average lifetime of our machines goes from 15 to 25 years“.

Maximum flexibility & complete chain

P.E. Labellers can handle any kind of container and use all existing labelling technologies, as: cold glue and hot melt, self-adhesive, sleeve and adhesleeve (or linerless self-adhesive). Adhesleeve is based on a linerless labelling technology. It leads to significant advantages in terms of costs reduction (30% savings), and environmental impact: in fact, there is a reduction of wastes as there is no liner, and energy costs are lower as no glue heating is required; furthermore, no chemicals (solvents) are required for cleaning the machine. In short, the machine operation is far simpler and maintenance costs are reduced by about 70-80%.
The first sector approached by P.E. Labellers, back in the 1970s, has been that of wines and spirits, with machines running at a speed of 3,000-4,000 bottles per hour. Since then, the food and detergents & personal care sectors have been added. “Today we can state that we supply all production sectors requiring labelling, including the pharmaceutical sector“, says Bruno Negri.
Since the mid 1980s, P.E. Labellers aims at changing from being a simple assembler of labelling machines to become a supplier of the complete production chain, from raw material to the finished machine and created – always in the province of Mantua – collateral production units: a turner’s shop for the production of mechanical parts; a carpenter’s shop for the production of machine frames; and a facility dedicated to the production of equipment.
Later on, P.E. Labellers created even separate facilities specializing in the different labelling technologies: one specializing in linear machines and adhesive labels (Packlab); one for medium-low speed labellers, one for labellers featuring roll-fed and adhesleeve technology; and one for the production of high-speed high-tech labellers.
The Research & Development division of P.E. Labellers, formed by ten engineers, works for the whole Group and is always looking for new technological solutions.

Labellers for all needs

In the last years – continues Mr. Bruno Negri – we developed a technology enabling us to build modular labellers starting from a standard machine frame, suiting all labelling needs in terms of formats and labelling system. The machine base is prepared with all types of container orienting and handling systems, and the processing speed can range from 3,000 to 60,000 pieces per hour“.
Among the models featuring advanced technology for the beverage sector, the in-block labeller deserves special mention. “A filling line – explains Mr. Negri – usually comprises a filling monobloc, conveyor belts, labeller, and additional conveyor belts and end-of-line machines. We integrated the labeller in a single machine that performs all filling, capping and labelling operations“. The high reliability of the labeller guarantees improved efficiency of production compared to conventional lines.
This many hands project has been developed in cooperation with MBF (Veronella, Veneto) for the wines and spirits sector, and with SIPA (Sala Baganza, Emilia Romagna) and SMI (San Giovanni Bianco, Lombardia) for the soft-drinks sector.
Several advantages: reduction in space occupied and maintenance costs (by eliminating conveyor belts); energy savings (no electric motors required to drive conveyor belts); and reduction of the number of operators assigned to the machine. In short: all this results in less adjustments and improved efficiency.

Maintenance: no problem

Over the last years – states Mr. Negri – we concentrated on the suppression or drastic reduction of maintenance, and we gained market recognition for our work. Wear parts are replaced during scheduled maintenance interventions, but in order to easily solve any electronic failure, we fitted all machines with a device allowing tele-servicing. In brief, from our Italian head office, we can control via web the machines installed in any part of the world, assess the problem, and, in most cases, do the trouble shooting from distance, thus avoiding the need of technical interventions on site“.

When the Made in Italy works properly

Mr. Negri, what can you tell us about the trend of your sales in recent years?
Like many other companies we registered a slight fall in sales in 2009, but already from the following year, we began to grow again, so that at present we have achieved +35% compared to 2010“.
So, high flies the honour of Italian technology all over the world.
Surely. And to bring the Made in Italy all over the world, even where access is not that easy, we created a networking company with other firms for the participation in trade fairs in new emerging markets, as for instance Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Emirates. Essentially, this involves the participation in collective stands, thus reducing the burden of an investment with an uncertain return. The networking company brings together several companies for a specified period for the purposes of commercial promotion; it comprises seven non-competing firms of the packaging sector, that offer products and services that complement one another“.

Highlight: OPERATOR’S SAFETY

We earned the praise of English and French control bodies – highlights Bruno Negri – thanks to the extremely efficient and secure protections we installed on our labelling machines. They protect operators from injuries, without sacrificing the flexibility and processing speed of the machines“.

Highlight: A GLOBAL SUPPLIER, OPERATING AT LOCAL LEVEL

The objective we achieved – highlights Bruno Negri – is the standardization of the design, production and management procedures at Group level thanks to the ERP “SAP” programme. IT infrastructures are located in a centralized Datacenter in the Mantua head office and support an external Disaster Recovery system”.

Highlight: A PORTFOLIO OF TOP CUSTOMERS

P.E. LABELLERS can meet the specific needs of its customers in the different market sectors proposing low, medium and high speed labelling machines. Thanks to the technical experience accrued over the years by the Research & Development Department, and the 360° total versatility of the produced labelling equipment, P.E. Labellers can satisfy the needs of all its customers, from small producers to multinational companies.

Article by Elettra Silviato

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