Last month, Paper Advance had the privilege of speaking with Toscotec's Paper and Board Area Sales Manager, Fabrizio Charrier.
For starters, could you tell us more about yourself and your role at Toscotec?
After completing school, I started working for Beloit Italia - that later became PMT Italia, located in Pinerolo (Turin) Italy where I worked for 20 years. I started as a technical engineer, following complete projects from the engineering phase to the field start up. In 2014 I moved to the Sales department, passing first through the Application dept. In March 2017, I joined Toscotec, where I hold the position of Paper & Board Area Sales Manager, in charge of the North American market. This change allowed me a unique opportunity to both expand my experience and to travel throughout North America to improve my knowledge of the territory professionally and personally.
Who is Toscotec? Offices + employees + expertise?
Toscotec is a privately-owned Italian company based in Lucca, Tuscany. We specialize in the design and manufacture of plants and equipment to produce tissue, paper and paper board, and for stock preparation. Toscotec’s head office is located in Marlia (LU), and has branches in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in Shanghai, China and in San Paolo, Brazil.
The Toscotec Group has been a privately owned manufacturing company since its foundation.
Today, we are recognized as one of the global leading manufacturers of machinery and plants for the paper industry, with an experience of 70 years.
Passion and innovation are our drivers, and they allow us to grow by continuously expanding our customer base.
What are your objectives in developing the North American market?
Our primary objective in North America is to increase our presence as a paper machinery supplier for Paper & Board machines; we are aiming to begin appearing in supplier databases as a qualified paper machinery producer in two/three years. We have already realized some successful projects in North America with several major papermaking groups, and we are receiving an increasing number of quotation requests, thanks to some of our promotional activity. Toscotec’s strength, and much of its recent success in the North American market is due to the dryer section rebuild projects it has delivered. Considering that paper machines installed in the North American market tend to be older than their European counterparts (please verify with author), this corner of the market provides Toscotec with solid short and medium term opportunities. For tissue, we have already established ourselves as one of the main suppliers in the North America market.
Can you tell us more about Toscotec’s North America turnkey services?
Turnkey project requests are increasingly common in North America and given our substantial turnkey experience in Europe, Toscotec is now seeking to manage complete projects in the region. Bolstered by the strength and experience of our Green Bay WI office, we intend to bring our experience and results to our North American customers. In my opinion, being close to the customer is essential and extremely important in this business, and this is an advantage we are proud to be able to offer. Our partnerships with local contractor companies and auxiliary suppliers for equipment we do not produce, as managed by our technical supervisors, allow us to capitalize on paper machine rebuild opportunities, which is the direction our Paper & Board division is focused on.
How does Toscotec stay ahead of the technological curve?
Toscotec is highly focused on technological improvement and is continuously investing in its R&D department.
What does continuous improvement mean to you when it comes to technology?
Continuous improvements in technology means finding the solutions that drive maximum results and benefits for the customer, with the minimum possible investment.
What percentage of your business goes towards Research & Development?
Toscotec has always been focused on improving the performance of its machinery and paper making lines, to continuously drive up paper quality, machine efficiency and energy savings, to ensure satisfactory and enhanced operations.
Over the years we’ve launched a number of research projects and upgrades to paper machine design, and our research activities continue to expand, both in terms of investment and keeping in pace with overall company growth. Last year alone Toscotec poured well over one million euros into research projects.
Several years ago, Toscotec appointed an internal R&D group composed of 10 engineers, all with mechanical and chemical backgrounds, with a mandate to develop research projects on paper machine design and paper making processes.
These efforts are well supported by two internal laboratories, fully equipped with mechanical and chemical testing tools, for use by internal research projects and customer service.
Undergraduate students have also been working with our R&D group during the preparation of their graduation thesis, and it’s thanks to the strengthened and continued partnerships with universities, research centers, external organizations and with our customers, that Toscotec’s R&D group benefits from access to invaluable feedback from the field. This feedback promotes the successful implementation of technological solutions based on market requirements.
Our R&D team regularly interacts with our engineering, sales and service departments with the aim of being at the forefront of new ideas and to ensure access to continuous feedback from the ‘real’ papermaking world.
The team takes part in continuous training programs on the complete paper process, and ensures Toscotec personnel are brought quickly up to speed whenever new concepts are introduced. Apart from past research projects, which introduced new concepts in Toscotec’s supplied components and services, other projects currently underway are focused on:
- energy savings (paper machine configuration and auxiliary systems with special attention to hood systems and heat and energy recovery systems);
- paper quality benchmark creation;
- fibre and raw material quality and preparation analysis with evaluation of impacts on machine production and final paper quality;
- fluid dynamic analysis of approach flow systems for improved geometry of components and layout;
- pressing and drying performance optimization (special attention to Yankee dryers and press rolls design with proper and optimized selection of materials and dimensions);
- paper making process control automation with the use of dedicated algorithm (industry 4.0 project).
What are your objectives for Toscotec in the next year? Five years?
Objectives for the paper and board division are to become one of the most important global suppliers specializing in paper machine rebuilds, and above all ,provide the right solutions for our customers’ needs.
What do you think is the most important quality for success?
In our business, it’s being close to our customers, providing support and assistance when needed, before and after the project closes out. Success is when we provide the right solution to meet the customer’s needs.
What do you find the most challenging about developing new business?
Competition is increasingly fierce. It is important to demonstrate on every project that expert knowledge and product quality are the basis for success in this market.
Toscotec designs and manufactures machines, systems and components for the production of Tissue and Paper & Board, offering proprietary solutions to the world’s leading paper industries: from complete tissue production lines to rebuilds, modernization projects and even single components.