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ITALY’S SYSTEM: TURNING CERAMICS DECORATIONS INTO AN ART
Growing by pursuing innovation on products as well as processing, not just limiting itself to the ability to introduce innovative products. This, in a nutshell, is the formula behind System’s success, an Italian firm established in Fiorano Modenese by Franco Stefani in 1970 and considered today one of the leading firms on a global scale for ceramic tiles decoration, fine-line and logistics equipment for the ceramics industry. At present System has an annual turnover of around 240 million euros, with gross profits of 41 million euros (17% margin). Employing a workforce of around 1,000, the firm is strongly rooted in Italy, where 60% of its workers are employed, but it also has 24 international branches. It covers 82% of the ceramics decoration market.
In particular, the firm rose to dominate the industry following the introduction of “Rocket”, the first rotary silk-screen printing machine that was the forerunner to “Rotocolor”, the product that sealed System’s absolute success, giving it an international reputation. At the same time, System created a centre dedicated to the development of hardware and software for business users. This technology centre – called “System Electronics” – supplies industrial controllers, industrial computers, video cameras for surveillance but also for the collection of production data, product identification/traceability technologies as well as automatic production lines.
The company confirmed its vocation for ceramics logistics in the 80s, when it entered the wholesale logistics sector by introducing “Modula”, the first automatic vertical warehouse. It is now one of the leading European players in this sector. The expansion in a new business was crucial to increase the client base, which now includes food & beverage, apparel, aeronautical and mechanical firms, as well as those from the ceramics sector. In this way this Italian company has quickly acquired a leading position the biggest markets in America, Asia and the Middle East. In the beverage sector System has also distinguished itself by launching automatic storage solutions that can sort more than 100,000 pallet places and 9.000 rows of picking every day.
In the industrial automation sector one of System’s latest products in “Qualitron NG”, a system that automatically inspects and selects tiles. Qualitron NG, used between the oven and the sorting machine, registers and supplies information on the quality, structure and tone of the products it selects. In this way it reduces complaints on finished products, increases the stability and the output of the whole production line and improves production efficiency. Marazzi Group, one of the biggest Italian tile producers listed on the Borsa Italiana, has adopted Qualitron NG to fully automatise all its sorting lines.
Over the years System has refined its products also in its core business: the last version of Rotocolor, the S5 Universal, marks a huge leap forward in terms of speed and high precision. Rotocolor S5 Universal also features two further innovations: “One Tone” e “Copilot”. Copilot is System’s industrial computer, which stores all data regarding the functioning of Rotocolor S5 Universal. One Tone is a new device that eliminates differences or errors in tonality during printing by monitoring instantaneously and systematically the temperature, density and viscosity of rotary silk-screen ink.
System’s constant devotion to R&D is not just a catch phrase: the company has always invested around 5% of its turnover on innovation. The results of this effort are there to show, from the number of patents registered to the fruitful cooperation that has been undertaken with the world’s leading scientific research centres.