Promote excellence, productivity and innovation

Intertraco | Italy

Promote excellence, productivity and innovation

Intertraco

Case Study

Pressurized fluid transport components specialist deploys comprehensive and integrated design, data management, simulation and manufacturing solution; gains process advantage in highly competitive market space

Intertraco

Intertraco promotes excellence, productivity and innovation through technological agility

Lean and agile

Intertraco SpA (Intertraco) is a specialist in fluid connectors, which are the metal components employed to convey fluid under pressure. In a global scenario dominated by large corporations, Intertraco is a mid-sized company doing business in the medium-to-high-end market range, acting as a business partner rather than just a component supplier.

Located in Suzzara, Italy, near Mantua, Intertraco has been growing steadily by focusing on a small number of high-value customers who share similar business models and long-term goals. “Some 80 percent of our turnover comes from less than thirty customers,” says Stefano Bertazzoni, managing director at Intertraco. Bertizzoni and his sister, Stefania Bertizzoni, have been guiding the company since 1979. “We are often in competition with big-name brands; yet, in many organizations, we have replaced our larger competitors as a result of our capacity to provide an equivalent or better product, combined with a leaner and more flexible relationship.”

The result is an organization with three manufacturing sites in Italy (Suzzara, Gallarate and Saronno), a subsidiary in Germany, a warehouse in Miami (for the North American market), 150 employees, €44 million in revenues in 2011, and a 92 percent export share across Europe, Oceania, South Africa, North America and the Far East.

From distributor to specialist

After starting off in the late 1970s as a distributor of mechanical and hydraulic components, Intertraco increasingly focused on the production of components for pressurized fluids, both through direct investments and the acquisition of a supplier in Gallarate, Italy, near Varese.

Another essential step toward becoming a thriving fluid connector specialist was the integration of its metal couplings production program with a full range of high-pressure flexible hoses. “For 12 years now, we have been partnering with Bridgestone of Japan as their exclusive distributor in Europe for their range of high-pressure flexible hoses. These are complemented by other hoses made to our specification and with our own brand for the European market.”

Bertazzoni notes, “A turning point in our history was the transition from the production of parts to the development of our own product collection, articulated in different families.” Today, Intertraco’s offerings include a broad, diverse range of couplings and fittings; flexible hoses of different types and materials, and quick release couplings, swivel joints and adaptors. Delivered both loose for sales to distributors and assembled for OEM customers, these products are mainly installed on earthworks machinery, fixed hydraulic equipment, mining equipment, offshore rigs, and forestry and agricultural machinery. Bertazzoni adds, “Our customer portfolio includes brands such as Sandvik, Caterpillar, Liebherr and Bosch Rexroth. The latter used Intertraco to produce the hoses for the Mose lagoon protection system in Venice, Italy.”

When the company first considered new processes, management, guided by Bertazzoni, recognized the need to adopt innovative tools. “We design and manufacture items that can be considered simple; they are basically lathe parts, symmetrical objects that rotate around their axis, so a 2D design system was more than adequate. And actually, traditional design with AutoCAD fully supported us for a decade, from the early 1990s. Drawing in 2D was quick and easy. However, as our business model evolved, we realized that, by adopting innovative machinery and advanced systems for project design and management, we could shorten cycle time significantly and become very efficient, fast and capable of responding more promptly to market demand.”

A confident choice

Technology investments were driven by management, with Stefano Bertazzoni himself as “main sponsor,” supported by Intertraco’s chief financial officer, Davide Fava, who is in charge of the company’s information technology (IT) systems and has been since inception. “Management was in the front line for the introduction of 3D design software,” says Fava. “When we had to handle thousands of drawings, we realized they could be grouped into families. We could redesign the parent parts of our components as 3D blocks, investing a little more time at the beginning, then realizing an extraordinarily faster and more efficient editing process.”

Management reviewed solutions from the product lifecycle management (PLM) domain, selecting Solid Edge® software, a comprehensive hybrid 2D/3D CAD package from Siemens PLM Software. The company now uses Solid Edge extensively to model and modify all of its products. “At the beginning, we were confronted with the typical resistance by users who were comfortable in old habits with tools that were working,” recalls Fava. “However, we were very confident in our decision to go with Solid Edge, so we accelerated the transition to avoid a long period of coexistence between different systems.” He notes that it was an inevitable phase, but that his team quickly got on board: “Today, all our users approve of the choice we made. Among important benefits, Solid Edge helps us respond to the weekly requests of OEM customers who ask to receive the 3D models of our couplings to see how they fit into their machines. This is not inconsequential, as other suppliers do not offer this opportunity, so we have an advantage in terms of sales.”