Barbara Gallo: Association membership and In Mold Decoration are weapons against the crisis

Besides being managing director of Progind, Turin company specialized in the construction of moulds, dies and in the mass-production of plastic parts, Barbara Gallo has always taken part in associations’ life with energy. We talked with her about her joining the Board of Directors of Ucisap, about the market and her company. That today is growing thanks to the fact of having focused with major emphasis on high added-value machining processes, much less affected by the risk of purchasers’ delocalization, including In Mould Decoration (IMD) with high aesthetical and performance level for car interiors, like for instance the valuable grills of air conditioners.

ok DSC_5626 OKBarbara Gallo is managing director of Progind, company headquartered at Azeglio (TO) that for over forty years has been operating in the design and construction of moulds and dies (mono-bi-and tri-material moulds, metal blanking dies, co-moulding and IMD), in the volume manufacturing of plastic parts and assemblies. A company that she manages with the right energy to contrast the crisis that hit the entire Italian economy in the terrible 2008 and 2009 years, to the extent that its turnover is today growing year by year, regaining the ground lost at that time. Credit goes to the entrepreneurial choices made, depending also on the fact of having staked with more conviction on high added value machining, much less affected by the risk of buyers’ delocalization, including In Mould Decoration (IMD) that exhibits high aesthetical and performance level for car interiors, like for instance the valuable air conditioner grills.

Barbara Gallo in the middle, with her husband Massimiliano Gamerro behind. On the left in the photo Alessio Canil, production department management. On the right Davide Biglia, metrology manager

Barbara Gallo in the middle, with her husband Massimiliano Gamerro behind. On the left in the photo Alessio Canil, production department management. On the right Davide Biglia, metrology manager

Barbara Gallo anyway, besides being a shrewd businesswoman, has always paid attention to the themes inherent to the association membership, holding important positions in Confindustria and nowadays also inside Ucisap, Italian union of the manufacturers of moulds and precision equipment, as member of the Board of Directors. It is just about her taking part in associations’ life, as well as about market, her entrepreneurial activity and IMD that we have talked with her.

Progind relies on a moulding department equipped with twenty presses with which it manufactures on behalf of its customers small and big batches, making use of the moulds previously designed and implemented

Progind relies on a moulding department equipped with twenty presses with which it manufactures on behalf of its customers small and big batches, making use of the moulds previously designed and implemented

What is the reason why you have always dedicated a part of your time, which is never sufficient for an entrepreneur, to associations’ life?

I have always been attracted by the participation in associations because it is a way of establishing relationships with people doing my same entrepreneur job and, in the case of Ucisap, of entrepreneurs who specifically operate in the mould sector. It is a way to exchange information, to learn and to grow. Moreover, to try constructing something together, once accomplished the knowledge and confidence courses that are integral part of being members of associations.

All necessary machining processes for the mould production are carried out by NC machining centres.

All necessary machining processes for the mould production are carried out by NC machining centres.

What do you mean with “constructing something together”?

There are various possible collaboration programmes, starting from the most trivial ones that, however, it would not be possible to fulfil without this kind of association activity: like, for instance, to take part together in exhibitions, activity that we are already doing, or to organize training courses. This is an activity that I am carrying out just thanks to the appurtenance to the association, too. The knowledge and the trust that I mentioned before constitute the fertile ground from which also more complex initiatives can spring, like the implementation of a common entrepreneurial project, partnerships, joint ventures and so on. We need time and dedication but I think that these are the real goals of an association.

In such a specialized body like Ucisap, however, crowded with companies that do the same activity and can be in direct competition one another, do fears and perplexities regarding the collaboration and the associative sharing exist?

As far as my experience is concerned, I do not look with fear or tension at the fact of getting together with colleagues that can be also competitors on the market. I believe that what you can obtain through sharing is more important than what you might lose owing to the collaboration. And I say “what you might lose” because it is not certain that it happens, on the contrary during my whole associative course I have never had such kind of problems. It is actually true that many companies do not approach the association world for the fear of having to share customers, projects and patents. There are, however, various approach modalities and the sound relationships and acquaintances that good associations create allow the representatives of companies that might be competitor on the market to become colleagues in the association ambit and sometimes friends with whom it is possible to discuss and make projects together without fear.

The mould designed and constructed by Progind for the escutcheon implementation

The mould designed and constructed by Progind for the escutcheon implementation

Let us speak of your company and of the market. How are things going?

Since 2008 up to now, we have essentially been in line with the trend of the whole production chain and, more in general, of the Country System. 2008 and 2009 were years of serious downturn, with a recovery that started in the second half of 2010 and that is still in course. We have then succeeded in recovering what we have lost, even if we have not reached the levels before the 2008 crisis, yet. Short-term growth expectations are encouraging especially concerning our activity of design and construction of moulds whereas the upswing for the moulding activity seems more distant.

What is the reason why, despite the difficult short-term business trend, Progind is withstanding the crisis well, all things considered?

We increasingly focus on high added-value machining processes, those less affected by delocalization risks because not easily repeatable. We rely on high specialization in the automotive and we keep this peculiarity alive by supplying more and more qualified products from the technological point of view, like for instance those expected to match high aesthetical value with the typical performances of automotive products, subjected to relevant stresses in terms of heat, light and so on. In this market, we can lose all those machining processes that can be moved elsewhere but when it comes to the implementation of complex products, due to technical, logistic and managerial reasons, this risk is reduced.

Have you thought of reaping the fruits of your know-how in complex machining in other sectors, apart from the automotive industry that represents most part of your reference market?

Yes, certainly. We are proposing them with decision also to the household appliance and medical industry, for instance, to the sector of instruments that are more and more often bought also by families and that need a certain aesthetical appeal. We are constantly searching for sectors with big growth potential, to which we can propose our high added-value machining.

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The injection system of the escutcheon

We have implemented, to make an example, the control of a car conditioner, composed by a silkscreened foil applied to two polymers co-moulded on an injection press. The product comes out finished from the press, with an excellent aesthetical result thanks to the film on which we have silkscreened the typical icons of a conditioner, superimposed to the transparent inserts close to which the backlighting will be prearranged. Each silkscreened icon coincides with moulding cavities fully split into inserts, so that there are no contaminations between the switching on of a light and the other. In this case, it is a bi-injection, but we are equipped for the tri-injection, too.

How do you mould it?

This escutcheon, 70-millimetre high and 235-millimetre long, is manufactured by means of an Arburg 520S press with rotary table, in whose mould are injected the dark and the transparent polymer, coated in the course of the same process by a silkscreened Extraform foil by MacDarmid. All that with a cycle time of 50 seconds only, without turning to external structures or other departments, as it happens for other cases in which valuable finishes are necessary. The mould that we have designed and constructed has two cavities for the use with rotary table. To avoid any problem of piece deformation or of silkscreen printing washing, we have prearranged an intensive conditioning of the mould cavity and of tool holding plates. Besides, the movements of the mould occur in dry conditions, then without turning to lubricants. The injection is performed with hot runner system with double distribution plate and direct injections.

What are the processes that you manage for the implementation of moulds of this kind and the in-house production of the component?

The mould design is accomplished by CAD/CAM systems by Vero Solutions. We carry out CAE analyses, with simulations for both the mould and the injection system, jointly analysing the results. Internal processes include the equipment testing, the management of various aesthetical finishes, possible lasering and pad printing of components, the assembly of components and the automatic management of processes through monitoring systems in real time. The equipment of which we make use are standard CNC, 6,000 – 50,000 High speed CNC, plunge EDM by AGIE Charmilles/Sodick, wire EDM by AGIE Charmilles, adequate heat treatments to reach the desired hardness standards, mould assembly and testing on Arburg machining centres.

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