Uteco Converting SPA is set on continued international growth, driven by research at its headquarters in northern Italy and embracing fl exo, roto, and digital technologies

For Uteco Group’s CEO and shareholder, the company’s further expansion will involve an “organic” element, maintaining its Italian heritage, while bringing its broad gamut of flexo, gravure, off-set, converting and digital technologies to new global markets.

“Uteco will continue its own internal organic growth with plants allocated in Italy,” said Aldo Peretti. “After the recent Research and Development and Technological Excellence Centre ConverDrome and the third plant in Italy, we are planning to open a fourth one, in Italy as well.

“The American factory too, though, was recently doubled (and the American market is always among the first markets of Uteco’s market share).”

Peretti sees external growth as likely to be tend either towards big commercial and service subsidiaries in the most important strategic areas or towards acquisitions.

“However, the core of the technological know-how will always remain in the Italian headquarters, not only about the product, the technology and the process, but also through strong investments in the productive process – such as the recent numerical control machine tools already acquired and which will be acquired in the next future.”

Uteco is headquartered in the town of Colognola ai Colli, to the east of Verona, with about 65,000m2 of production space, spread between the central plant, Uteco 2, and a new plant, Uteco 3. More than 350 specialists in design, production, control, assistance, sales, and marketing work at the site.

Peretti sees Uteco’s success as founded on “extreme customisation and flexibility”. Within flexible packaging, his sights are set on the entire sector.

“Today all the sectors of flexible packaging are our targets,” he said. “And not only, because our technologies are now applied also on other diversified sectors, such as shopping bags for haute couture, industrial sacks for various applications up to nanotechnologies, printed electronics and aerospace.”

The company portfolio features a broad range of flexographic and rotogravure printing machines and laminating and other converting equipment reflecting the firm’s consistent focus on research and innovation. In digital the company has already installed some machines and will soon launch other ones, said Peretti.

“As a global player which is more and more recognised by the market for all its printing and converting technologies, Uteco will grow with a focus on continued technological innovation and range broadening of all [our]technologies … starting from flexo, roto, digital, and all the special applications,” said Peretti.

“In parallel with this growth Uteco will continue its heavier and heavier penetration in the strategic and emerging markets, without ignoring, lastly, potential directives of future development, not only for internal growth, but also for acquisition.”

Uteco’s latest developments include its participation as a key founder – along with the Italian government and Fiera Milano – in the Innovation Alliance, a combination event for the printing industry due to take place in Milan in 2018.

“After the great success of Expo 2015 in Milan, its aim is to create a multievent of the current trade shows: Converflex, Grafitalia, Inprinting PRINT4ALL, Ipack-Ima, and Plast,” he said.

Uteco is also working with the Italian authorities to develop the potential of Industry 4.0 – the use of automation and data exchange in ‘smart factories’, where cyberphysical systems, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing will enhance productivity.

“Uteco has a predominant position also at an associative level of the Italian machinery manufacturers,” said Peretti.

“It participated with the Italian government in the strong incentive given by the Industry 4.0 to all the Italian companies. Uteco is therefore characterised not only as a manufacturer of machines built with the philosophy of Industry 4.0, but also as a partner that follows the clients while introducing the culture and the know-how of the Industry 4.0 when they decide to invest in Uteco’s machinery and to integrate it in a global company system.”

Uteco introduces new technologies working both with its clients and their final users, the big brand owners in healthcare and in food and beverage, he said.

“An Uteco EB machine in production for a long time was tested for weeks and months also with the final user – a big American multinational in the healthcare sector – to make it together through all the strict US specific regulations,” said Peretti.

North America and Italy are Uteco’s top markets, each on occasion taking the lead role, he said.

“Every year Italy and North America compete for the position of first market, with values between 20% and 25% each,” said Peretti.

“The remaining part of the business is divided between the rest of Europe and the other continents, starting with Latin America, up to Asia, Middle East and Africa. The strongest growth rate expected is certainly towards the emerging countries.”

“The emerging countries of the Middle East and Africa are already signalling a strong growth rate, both internally and from the presence of big multinational groups of converters, not only European and American, but more and more often also from Asia.

“The parallel growth potential of the demand of advanced food packaging for those enormous populations can’t but confirm an absolute growth of these economies in the next years and of the consequent demand for packaging industries.”

Uteco is also looking to serve its clients’ changing needs by helping them combine the best of flexo and gravure, he said.

“With the globalisation of the markets, of the technological trends, of the more and more demanding requests of the most evolved clients in terms of quality, short jobs, just in time, it is not possible anymore to divide the world of converters into pure flexo or pure roto printers,” he said.

“Each converter is balancing more and more on both technologies and a global partner like Uteco needs to be able to give him the maximum level of product technology, know-how, and technological support on all these technologies in order to eventually meet their growing interest in digital, where Uteco has already installed some machines and will soon launch other ones on the market.”

Peretti claims the company’s installed base – particularly in its core flexo business –demonstrates its “market leadership in terms of market share and technological excellence towards all the reference competitors”.

Despite the emergence of new rivals, he also sees Uteco’s position in the market as secure.

“The competition in the world, just like in every industrial sector, is becoming stiffer and stiffer also due to the entrance of new players,” he said.

“However, it is a competition that Uteco doesn’t fear, based on its strong points, from the quality of the product to the optimisation of the productive process – through lean manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Six Sigma – and for the continuous investments worldwide also in terms of resources and service.”

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