ITW Gema is coated in quality
One of the leading suppliers of electrostatic powder coating equipment to a global market, ITW Gema operates under the ethos of working on refining its own processes to provide its customers with the right solutions.
The company has a rich history, dating back to the 1897 foundation of the Gema tinsmith business, which focused on producing guttering and tin roofs. Gema developed manual and automatic powder coating equipment at its St. Gallen facility in the sixties. The company began to focus on the production of powder guns, control units, booths, reciprocators, and powder feed systems. Since 1990 Gema has been part of Illinois Tool Works (ITW). Together with other important finishing brands like for example Ransburg, DeVilbiss, Binks and Evercoat, it is part of the ITW Finishing Group. Nowadays, Gema has distribution centres all over the world, as well as agents in over 60 countries.
Claudio Merengo, president worldwide, takes up the story of the company’s development: “ITW Gema is a producer of electrostatic powder coating equipment worldwide. This technology was developed 40 years ago, and at that time, Gema was the first company that developed and produced powder coating guns and equipment. Today, the company offers a large variety of solutions to satisfy our customer’s needs and requirements in different countries and industry sectors, from automotive to home appliance, from aluminium extrusions to metallic furniture and many others. Gema is part of Illinois Tool Works, which is a global manufacturer of a very wide array of engineered fasteners, components, equipment, and special systems. This is a $14 billion company, with more than 750 decentralised business units in 50 countries, employing 55,000 people.”
Claudio explains the factors that have seen the company rise to the top of the powder coating market: “I think innovation is the key factor in Gema’s success. Today, more than 70 per cent of the company’s revenue derives from products launched within the last three years. The most recent innovations are the OptiFlex manual unit, which has been successful thanks to its ergonomics (the gun is 30 per cent lighter than previous models) and to innovative features like remote control integrated in the gun. Another example is the OptiFlex automatic equipment, which features a new technology called digital valve control (DVC). DVC improves accuracy greatly, as well as the quality of the coating results. The advantages for the customers are the stable and high quality levels, together with savings on powder consumption. The most recent product that Gema has introduced to the market is the Magic Compact, which is a new generation of quick colour change system. This product reduces the space requirements, and features high quality airflow during the process, as well as rapid colour change times. The first step in all our innovation projects is always a very detailed market research. This research is a continuous process set in place by the company, as Gema needs to understand and anticipate market needs before they occur.”
The management of a successful production process relies on a good internal organisation as Claudio outlines: “Another key factor to our success is the use of the ‘ITW Toolbox’. This is a collection of strategies and techniques that guide our business process, and help us to find new ways to increase customer satisfaction. These include for example a better and more efficient organisation of shop floors, and the use of efficient production planning procedures. Gema uses a ‘market rate of demand’ to manufacture, meaning the company produces to the order rate, rather than rely on a marketing plan. Gema regularly reviews the sales activity, capacity, and lead times to optimise the components inventory levels for each and every product.”
The market is strong for Gema’s expansion, as Claudio elaborates: “This year, Gema is beating every record, and the company is seeing growth all over the world. In particular, the main focus is on China and Eastern Europe, the areas of the most significant growth. Powder coating is now becoming necessary through its adherence to European Union regulations, but this is also the case worldwide, as there is a general need to reduce pollution. Powder coating is an environmentally friendly product, as it uses no solvents, reducing the amount of CO2 emissions.”
“I am optimistic in regards to the future. I feel Gema has a leading position within a growing market, with a quality range of products, and interesting research and development projects in the pipeline,” Claudio continues. “The company’s strategy is clear: Gema aims to increase its presence in fast growing markets in Europe and Asia, as well as continue to invest in innovation.” he concludes.
Products: Electrostatic powder coating systems
Employees: 300 (worldwide)