Europe’s largest welding manufacturer, PPS Group, reimagines industrial craftsmanship 

It has been approximately a year since we last spoke with PPS Group, Europe’s largest specialist welding and assembled steel component manufacturer. In this issue, Manufacturing Today has the opportunity to catch up with Roberto Baccheti, CEO, and Daniel Futej, President of Board of Directors, about recent happenings within the business over the last 12 months.  

“2023 has been quite a challenging year for PPS Group due to several aspects,” Roberto begins. “We saw high volumes of demand, with strong pressure on quality and low-cost deliveries. Therefore, it was critical for us to define our bargaining zone, which included reviewing our entire client portfolio. In Slovakia, there were also general elections, and for electoral purposes, a regulation was introduced enabling a number of qualified people to access early retirement, which meant affected companies needed to recruit replacement labor. 

“Additionally, the European Union has begun to introduce and confirm increasingly restrictive obligations for medium-to-large companies on the control of carbon dioxide emissions, and subsequent investments must be added to the budget. 

“Despite the challenges, PPS Group, as the key brand to independent global companies of heavy off-highway equipment, has managed to satisfy its customers, while committing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We’ve done so without forgetting our pledges to internal growth,” he shares. 

As Roberto outlines, 2023 brought with it some unexpected hurdles. However, the business was still able to experience significant growth, to which Daniel refers: “PPS Group Detva is one of the largest steel structure manufacturing companies in Europe; all our processes are managed under one roof. We have continually improved our efficiency, and cost benefits can be seen across multiple territories and production and reflected in a different mentality and management styles. Furthermore, we have placed a much stronger emphasis on outsourcing and have completed a review of every supplier to optimize resource allocations,” he says. PPS Group Detva delivers single-part structures to small and large businesses, investing in its own design and development processes to facilitate fulfilment. “Typically, our production encompasses steel components up to 25 tons. We have built our success on having our own design, research and development department to meet the specific needs and requirements of our customers.”  

Strategic alliances 

In addition, there have been many internal transformations to ensure PPS Group remains a dependable name for its clients and continues to manufacture and deliver quality products. “With reference to investment, several measures were taken in 2023 to upgrade the production machines, replacing old ones with up-to-date technologies. The upgrade will continue for the next two years to allow us to increase our capacity in areas where high volumes could suffer. Another major investment this year will involve four million euros to expand the current painting shops.  

“Finally, to fulfil our sustainability pledges, we will be investing in new electrified transport to replace diesel-powered vehicles, and this will include the implementation of photovoltaic systems with at least one megawatt capacity,” Roberto explains.  

These investments have enabled the company to fulfil some impressive projects. “We’ve developed several parts with two new customers who are relevant players in the construction, material handling, and packaging film sectors. This year, we are looking to expand our customer reach into additional sectors like mining and rail. We’re trying to strengthen our relationships with our vendor network by going beyond price and product negotiations. We want strategic alliances so that we can gradually build more value into product assembly, jointly design key operational processes and define proprietary rights,” he further outlines.  

Daniel goes on to add: “Our experience is built on 65 years of fabrication of welded steel components for the construction, mining and material handling sectors, as well as equipment manufacturers. Welding is the main fabrication process. We constantly improve our welding processes and procedures in partnership with local universities and institutions and by drawing on the expertise of our independent welding laboratory. Our welding laboratory services are frequently used by our clients and other partners.”  

Process optimization  

With sustainability at the forefront of the company’s agenda for the next few years, the future looks prosperous for PPS Group. Customers can expect the company to continue to modernize industrial activity and generate local citizens’ interest in manufacturing. “Welding and other in-house processes such as cutting, shaping, bending, machining, shot blasting and painting demand constant improvements. We see further opportunities to optimize processes and will continue to follow industry standards and benchmarks. We’ll secure high quality delivery without disruption and even though we already utilize cutting-edge technology, our investment in that area will continue,” notes Daniel. 

In the longer term, both Roberto and Daniel are keen to see PPS Group continually improve. “In this competitive market, we will have to make room to implement innovation in robotics and ensure our solutions remain cutting edge. So, on a strategic level, we will identify appropriate partners to become a worldwide player and work to further cement our PPS Group identity.   

Building beauty 

“Moreover, I think we will also have to focus our energy not only on welding, and being perceived as an excellent welding shop, but also on how our work can be complemented by machining. In addition to selling products, we want to focus on selling solutions and services. Finally, against the backdrop of geopolitical instability in the Middle East, PPS Group will need to explore other sectors of manufacturing to pivot quickly in market turbulence.” 

PPS Group seems determined to strive to be a beacon of innovation and vision. Roberto and Daniel are keen to maintain their commitment to shaping the future of manufacturing by improving the company’s sustainability efforts and maintaining a customer-centric approach. In bringing the conversation to a close, Daniel’s reflections on the company’s future summarize PPS Group’s ethos of evolution and enhancement: “Our vision is to continue to be a manufacturing leader, inspiring and shaping the steel welding manufacturing sector.”  

What continues to set PPS Group apart is its endeavor to redefine the essence of manufacturing. Daniel poses a provocative question: “Can welding be an art?” Through his lens, welding transcends functionality, evolving to a form of artistic expression that shapes product design and customer experience. “We have to start learning that manufacturing can represent beauty. Beauty is also connected to functionality. While welding creates a functional product, arguably, it is also intrinsically a piece of artwork,” he iterates. 

Also central to PPS Group’s vision is the human element. Daniel hopes for industrial facilities to be more than just workspaces, rather places of comfort and creativity. “We need to strive for our shop floors to feel welcoming and safe for our teams, perhaps even homely,” he suggests. By fostering an environment where employees feel valued and inspired, PPS Group aims to cultivate happiness and a sense of ownership among its workforce. As Daniel succinctly suggests: “Building beauty in its broadest sense may contribute to happiness. This is what PPS Group is trying to achieve.”