“We chose Navarra because there is also a good network of local universities in Zaragoza, Pamplona and of course in Barcelona or Madrid,” Pozzi added.
However, once the decision to invest had been taken, the local authority moved quickly. The speed at which the project was authorised and built by the Local Enterprise Company (LEC) “is a very good example of cooperation between public and private companies,” Pozzi said. He continued: “When we decided to make the investment it was in the middle of the financial crisis. CEPEDA is an expensive tool but it is really accelerating innovation,” said Pozzi.
For the local government, the driver was to help position the region as a technology centre. “CEDEPA is not a company where we are going to employ hundreds of people. The number of jobs is limited, the real driver was in the research and innovation,” Carnicer said.
“CEDEPA is about innovation in machinery and innovation in chemicals. The real innovation is in the product,” said Pozzi.
“In the end we decided to form a company run 50-50,” Pozzi. “CEDEPA,” he added, “is about innovation and minimising risk for our customers.
“We believe that Saip alone or Dow alone could not provide the solution.
“The facility is particularly helpful to customers from emerging markets, where polyurethane education is less well developed than it is in other areas,” Pozzi added.
One of the key advantages of the CEDEPA site, both Pozzi and Carnicer agreed, is that it enables people to see common problems which occur in rigid foam panel manufacture and understand how they can be rectified without a call to either the machinery supplier or material supplier.
“Without CEDEPA, a new customer would have to buy the chemicals and then buy the machinery, prepare everything and start by themselves,” said Pozzi.
“With CEDEPA this risk is almost zero. Customers come here, they visit the line and all the steps are shown,” he added.
Carnicer said: “We can run prototypes for customers to enable people to pre-market.”
He continued: “On top of the innovation toolbox, we talk about risk mitigation. Panels can get certified before the line is installed for example. It’s about mitigating risk.”
So has Saip sold lines on the basis? “Absolutely we have,” said Pozzi.
Pozzi said: “It’s a different approach to the market…To prove the value we add to the proposal.”
Typically, Pozzi said, training is based on chemical theory and mechanical theory then some basic information about the product. After that clients are shown how to run the line and eventually run the line by themselves and with particular focus on troubleshooting.
CEDEPA has been able to benefit more established customers, and also the partners in different ways.
“For well-established companies it is more useful for innovation,” said Carnicer. “It is useful for testing new product ideas without interrupting production,” he added.
“As materials manufacturers we can trial formulations on production-sized equipment, which can be difficult to do at customers’ sites, where most of our efforts naturally going to problem solving,” Carnicer said.
“Additionally, it gives us the opportunity to try systems with processing parameters which are quite different to those found in commercial use. You can try out of the box ideas,” he continued.
Carnicer said “One example of this is in the development of Dow’s new halogen free PIR technology for continuous rigid-faced (RF) double belt lamination (DBL) production. This allows PIR panels to be produced with the highest fire rating possible for organic insulation BS1D0,” Some of the work was done at CEPEDA, Carnicer said.
“If you have to rely on much smaller scale labs or customer trials you cannot work on more innovative solutions. You are limited,” Carnicer said.
Pozzi added: “Saip has developed new software, which has increased the efficiency of the heating system that has allowed us to reduce the cost of running the line by 10% and this can be implemented this on standard lines,” he added.
“We know this because we checked the energy bill,” said Pozzi.
CEDEPA is here to run projects for the partners, jointly or for the individual owners, or third parties, and to run product development for the partners, said Pozzi. It is open to third party activities. It is a privately-owned centre which can run fully confidential trials for third parties, Pozzi and Carnicer said.