Italian panel equipment maker Robor srl may exemplify the “small is beautiful” principle. The family owned and run machinery firm, set up in 1972, can make between four to six lines a year for insulated sandwich panels at its 9000-m2 plant in Quinto di Treviso — a level it is quite happy with.
Robor feels it is competitive at this rate: “Our focus is to implement and upgrade our quality,” instead of simply selling more lines, Simone Borsato, technical and sales manager, said in a 27 Sept interview at the K2010 show.
“We make all the line, from roll forming until the end of the line,” including assembling the foaming systems, said Borsato.
“We worked in the past with different producers such as OMS, PU.MA,” he noted, adding that since 2005 it has been an independent business.
In the last few years Robor has grown to employ 65 people and reach sales for 2009 of €15 million ($20.3 million) for 2009 (€12 million in 2008): Borsato expects the same for 2010.
“We keep a lot of customers, as a family company, but at the same time we develop and try ... to arrive at a good solution, good quality and service,” he added. “Now, we are recognised in the market; we are serious professionals and we respect delivery times.” In terms of service, Borsato said Robor “never says to the customer, ‘This is not our problem’.” Robor also makes pantographic equipment for cutting insulation and wood-processing machines.
Robor sells everywhere, Borsato claims: “Just to give you an idea, we sold 19 lines in Korea,” between 1982 and 2000, and has also sold lines in China. But Borsato admitted that Korean companies have since copied Robor’s technology.
The executive added that people are concerned about the fire resistance of PUs, with everybody asking about using PIR (polyisocyanurate) and about its fire resistance compared to that of rockwool.
Robor gets asked to quote on jobs by huge worldwide companies, and is price competitive, Borsato claims.
“Our power is that we are a little company, so we can contain costs, we can be more competitive, it is clear, with the European suppliers — but not with the Chinese and Turkish ones,” he noted.
Discussing such competition between European machinery makers and lower-cost suppliers in other regions, Borsato said Robor makes high-quality equipment, and European suppliers have a bonus.
“We have years of experience.” Those who copy the technology “don’t have that knowledge,” he said.
Borsato feels that, in the type of machinery it supplies, it is “the details that make the difference.” But a major problem at present for European suppliers in competing on the marketplace is the poor ratio between the Euro and US dollar, Borsato stressed. This makes overseas competitors, in China for example, more competitive, he said.
Robor doesn’t currently sell in the US, but Borsato recognises this as a huge market. “With the new rules for insulation and CO2 emission, there is big potential,” he commented, noting nevertheless that “the American economic situation is not so positive and comfortable.”