An interview with Aluberg’s Plant Director
Aluberg is a company in the province of Bergamo, which has specialized for over thirty years in converting aluminum, plastic films, and flexible laminates for the pharmaceutical and food industries.
Considering that Aluberg is recognized on the market for the superior quality of its production for the pharmaceutical sector, which aspects of your production process have most benefited from MEC 4?
We were looking for a slitter rewinder that could provide high-quality processing for diverse materials. GOEBEL IMS’s solution perfectly met our needs and those of our customers. For the most part, Aluberg works with the pharmaceutical sector: demand is based on different materials — aluminum, plastic film, laminated aluminum-polyester, flexible laminated aluminum-film. The common denominator of this production is uncompromising quality. MEC 4 delivers on both of these fronts: uncompromising quality and extremely high flexibility.
How do you rate the MEC 4’s slitting and rewinding quality?
For Aluberg, slitting and rewinding quality is most important for protecting and safeguarding the complete perfection of the surface of the materials we process. The material’s surface must not be made defective when it goes through the machine. With the GOEBEL IMS slitter rewinder we can completely and constantly ensure this protection.
Considering the high degree of customization of the machine you bought, how would you evaluate GOEBEL IMS’s response in this aspect? Specifically, the layout of the twin-shaft was designed with a central unloading area to meet your needs for space. Can you tell us how this feature facilitates your operations?
GOEBEL IMS is much more flexible than the other suppliers we contacted for this order. It listens to the customer’s requests and works with them to figure out how to satisfy their needs.
Customization is based primarily on two aspects of its construction:
- the winding area was built internally, opposite to the construction trend for this type of machine, which usually has it positioned on the periphery. This inverted the direction of rewinding, directing it towards the machine’s central core. Aluberg sees this type of layout as having the following advantages:
- the machine is made even more compact, saving space for unloading and warehousing as well as tooling and routine maintenance,
- the operator has a more complete view of the machine from his position, an advantage that facilitates his operation;
- combined central and peripheral rewinding instead of only with central feed. Right now the machine is set up for rewinding in these two modes, but it is always done through the central feed because the quality results of the reels are beyond satisfactory.
The customization of the material route can also house your particular viewing systems, which you use a great deal in your production. Can you tell us how these devices are integrated into the MEC 4?
Considering the speed of the production cycles and the width of the incoming reels, the operator’s skill and experience no longer suffice to avoid the risk of defects. It has to be automated; the surface inspection systems must be installed that basically detect any defects or material contamination. Thanks to GOEBEL IMS’s collaboration, we opened a direct communication channel with the supplier of the Aluberg’s viewing systems, with us serving as a point of connection, and together we came up with the final plans. Adapting the machine layout is no simple matter because Aluberg also needs to inspect large surfaces of the product — we work on bands up to 1300 mm wide. Eight video cameras are installed on the machine and must have a certain angle, a certain distance. Then there is the need for lights in addition to this specific need. It is self-evident how what was designed was a significant infrastructure and how essential for the successful outcome it was to have a collaboration and ability to design side-by-side and combine know-how and technology.
MEC 4 is made for converting complex materials of different types, from bare aluminum to laminated aluminum. Were you able to appreciate the practical advantages of this machine’s specialization and versatility?
Excellent quality on a wide range of materials. That’s our definition of versatility. This is one of the challenges that must be taken on. We believe that to be successful it is best to do difficult things and specialize.
Precisely for flexibility, we want a slitter that gives us more possibilities and that lets us give our customers a better service. Having a very open range of materials is more difficult: but if the supplier is good and aligned with the customer, great results can be achieved. The ones who make the machines don’t use them. We customers are the ones who do so our feedback is important. If the supplier is high quality, like GOEBEL IMS, together we can achieve these results.
Another key service is to satisfy clients in terms of quantities and time frames, no one wants to be a warehouse, everyone wants to work to order and in short times, so we act as a warehouse for our customers, and we always have the product ready for delivery. This demands heavy workloads from the MEC 4 and many material changes, which is another reason why versatility through automation is a crucial aspect of our success.
Aluberg is an example of industrial excellence that chooses to invest in the best production technologies to give a broad scope to its business. Does the purchase of MEC 4 fit into this strategy?
We strongly believe in technology, in automation aimed at high productivity and quality. Aluberg’s mission is to have excellent production speed with high quality with the right automation. Our vision is guided by these tenets. When we have to buy technology from a supplier we always start from these three foundations as the basis of discussion.
We are in a market where quality is non-negotiable: without it, no need to even sit at the table to talk. Speed and quality are non-negotiable: there’s no use in discussing anything if there is no productivity because you couldn’t guarantee customer service. Speed of production and efficiency are the starting points.
The problem is that quality must be achieved in a productive way, otherwise, it creates imbalances in the company which are also really dangerous. You have to leverage automation to bring together quality and productivity. There is no other way to do it now.
Traceability is also fundamental these days in order to make the most of the technology available to calibrate it, manage it, and redirect it if necessary. In the pharmaceutical industry, traceability is even more important: we have to implement a long series of procedures and data collection systems to ensure current product traceability standards.
Quality standards are getting higher and higher and demand is increasingly diversified and everything must also cost little. Above all, we make flexibility our distinctive feature, so we offer such a service to customers and, as a result, have to be ready with technology and automation.
If you choose to provide services and pursue the path of reliability, to provide quality, you have to equip yourself technologically and organizationally, otherwise, you’re working against yourself. Aluberg has chosen this route. GOEBEL IMS came to us with this slitter rewinder and opened a channel of collaboration. It would be hard to improve on our quality levels of slitting and winding, already at excellent levels, but what we can improve will be the management of the finished product.