Cusano Milanino and Gessate, two towns in the Milan hinterland, are not far from each other, but the business approach of these two companies is even closer. We talked about it with Alessandro Donati, sales manager at Zator, and Marco Alberti, sales manager at Alberti Engineering.
“With Zator we share the same philosophy: go beyond the concept of “standard product” and provide our customers with the most suitable solution for their needs, even if this implies longer working hours and the capacity to adapt”. To talk about the collaboration between Zator, based in Cusano Milanino and specializing in the production of glue application products, and Alberti Engineering – mainly focused on technology and systems for the processing of wood and wood-based panels – this seemed the most fitting sentence, uttered during our visit by Marco Alberti, sales manager of the company based in Gessate, just outside Milan.
This statement summarizes the key concept of the collaboration between these two interesting organizations of the made-in-Italy industry.
“Just a small premise: we turned to Zator – who has become our official supplier for all adhesive dispensing applications and issues, both for panels during furniture assembling and for dowel inserting operations – because we needed to solve a big challenge: having ad-hoc solutions in our plants for glue distribution, at low, medium and high pressure. We needed effective solutions quickly, that could help us adapt to the needs of our customers, and frankly speaking, we have found a reliable and very correct partner who can offer high-quality products”.
“Alberti Engineering – Marco Alberti continued – we manufacture automatic and semi-automatic machines, from drilling to dowel-inserting models, all custom and made to customer specifications, so it is essential for us to interact with a high-level partner to avoid issues. We don’t sell from catalog, so to say. We don’t sell standard products, which means that, in case of need, our partner must be able to adapt or create special solutions, such as the glue spreading guns. Our business results in recent years prove that choosing Zator was a wise decision”.
“In detail – said Alessandro Donati, sales manager of the company – we provide Alberti Engineering with two different types of glue spreading aggregates to transfer glue from the tank to the gun, and three models of electropneumatic guns without solenoid valve, which they can control electronically with no problems.
Two of these are standard models from catalog, one is a solution specifically developed for their needs. We can call it a gun with an “extension” that can compensate for the lack to space during application”.
“One of our customers – Marco Alberti added – asked for drilling-inserting machines that, during the process, could also dispense glue, but due to the footprint of the drawer guide on the panel, we did not have the ideal space to apply the adhesive. The gun nozzle was too far, and talking with Zator engineers, they provided a gun with a longer glue ejection section, so as to shorten the gap from the application point.
This is the reason why we are so happy with this collaboration: we needed a special product to maintain high quality standards, and we have found it. It’s a pleasure to move in synch”.
Mr. Donati, how long did it take to find this solution?
“To be honest, not so long. We are very flexible, we had already designed a similar solution, and we managed to adapt the project to their requirements”.
How important is the after-sales phase in the adhesive business?
“It may sound obvious, but after-sales customer support is essential. Even if the product is high level, sometimes the customer might use a different type of glue, for instance. In this case, it is essential to know whether our system and the glue are fully compatible or modifications are needed”, Alessandro Donati said.
“I agree”, Marco Alberti added. “The management of customer operations and decisions is essential. Working with Zator and interacting with them constantly, I have learned the importance of every minor detail in adhesive application. We have to consider many factors, from outdoor temperature to moisture, from glue viscosity to pressure. As a result, I have learned to put more and more specific questions to customers, so as to collect accurate feedback to develop better solutions.
As OEMs, we have noticed this change, we have seen that trends keep changing and “coming back”, from batch one operations to standard production, from static machines controlled by an operator to numerical control machines. Operations change, but in the end the job is the same.
In recent years, technology has certainly made big steps forward, also for guns, but I think that the big difference from the past is in the “chemical” domain, with several types of glue available on the market. In this case, chemistry drives the development of hardware”.
What’s the hot topic in the near future?
“The hot topic in the coming months – Alessandro Donati commented – will be raw materials, and consequently prices. The big challenge will be to provision materials at the right price and supply products to customers without having to touch up your price list. As I said, we are long-sighted: we have an excellent internal warehouse, we try to make everything “in house”, and this enables us to place clear orders. Now we’ll see what happens”.