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Wel-Cut Report Summary

Project ID: 729186

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Wel-Cut (A-PET WELDING AND CUTTING MACHINE)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

We are Gi-Erre Plastica Srl (Gierre), specialists in providing thermoformed packaging services and machinery since 1984. Thanks to our 25+ years’ experience and technical expertise, we are able to offer standard and customised solutions to our customers that will protect their product and enhance their image. In 2008, we fully restructured our company, the new owners and board of directors agreeing that innovation was the only possible future for GIERRE. Focussing on recyclable materials, our new anti-shock packaging is made with ecologically friendly materials that preserve the environment and reduce costs.

WEL-CUT is a new type of machinery that solves technical challenges of working with A-PET, specifically achieving high-quality welding and cutting while improving productivity by means of smart design and precise automation. Our innovative packaging production process incorporates a number of innovations to be patented or kept under industrial secrecy terms.

Thanks to WEL-CUT, we expect to achieve positive Return on Investment (in the worst-case scenario by the 3rd year of business), where main revenue streams will come from boosting our current packaging consulting services, now based on our own machinery and able to offer higher quality and productivity. We will also open a new division at GIERRE to handle production and sales of our specific WEL-CUT machinery to packaging services SMEs. Finally, we will consider licensing WEL-CUT to third parties operating in countries/market segments where we do not have presence (e.g. Food & Beverages and Pharmaceutical).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

After initially validating our technological approach, we proceeded to thoroughly study the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of WEL-CUT.
Thanks to the support of the EASME through the excellent coaching service provided by our coach, we have been able to recruit a new industrial partner: Aramini Srl, a company with a track record of success developing and manufacturing precision automation machinery for different sectors such as cosmetics, winding, testing. Their presence in the WEL-CUT consortium consolidates our project and the whole supply chain. This has been a critical milestone, as they have investment capacity, which makes our project even more feasible from a financial point of view; they also count with distributors in France, Germany and China, that further consolidates our strong Italian distribution channel and their clients portfolio complements our own, which has boosted our sales projections, further validating commercial and financial viability. Finally, they are experts in automation, one of the critical developments to be performed during the upcoming Phase 2. Indeed, they have supported us to consolidate the cost-structure of WEL-CUT and refine our estimations in regards with required effort and associated investments to develop our first portfolio of products.

Apart from the presence of ARAMINI in our consortium, we have also been able to:
1. Built an advanced prototype of the BASIC model of our machinery that further validates WEL-CUT’s high quality welding & cutting processes.
2. Integrate our current solution into a single machine able to thermoform, weld and cut A-PET in an automated working cycle, minimizing current downtimes and greatly improving quality, which will let us achieve our goal of zero-defect production and cycle-times between 5 and 40 pieces per minute (depending on the size of the pieces).
3. We have also validated the feasibility of our Quality goal, as we have already achieved the same degree of transparency and welding/cutting quality currently achieved with PVC material.
4. We have carried out a thorough marketing study, including a survey among early adopters from main targeted segments, and derived from it the right first portfolio of machines, that perfectly combines features and price to satisfy the needs from these segments.
5. As mentioned, with the support of our new partner, we have refined our designs, paving the way for industrialisation and manufacturing upscaling, we have refined our cost-structure and validated our sales projections, which will let us recover the investment within first 3 years of business.
6. Finally, we have carried out a thorough freedom to operate study during this feasibility study showing that we do not infringe any previous patent/utility model.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

During the feasibility study ,we have confirmed the viability of WEL-CUT which will be the first line of machinery in the market able to achieve with A-PET the same degree of quality, productivity and cost efficiency currently achieved with PVC.
We have built and extensible line of products that allows SMEs to start with an optimal process that minimises human intervention, improves productivity and boosts quality (BASIC model), that will be easily expandable to incorporate different degrees of automation, letting them gradually evolve to a fully automated system, which favours the rapid adoption of automation among EU SMEs.
Furthermore, in doing so, we are contributing to environment, addressing a European challenge which promotes environmental friendly material as A-PET, and will gradually phase out PVC, starting with sensitive applications (e.g. medical, food & beverage, children products). WEL-CUT will catalyse the adoption of A-PET and contribute to healthier and more environmental friendly products.
Finally, evolving to produce our own machinery will help us to (1) scale our capabilities by using our new machinery in services provided to third parties (meaning higher profit, higher visibility and accessing news markets and segments, specifically international markets); (2) provide our own machinery or license our technology to third parties, evolving to a product based company; (3) boost our international presence thanks to a unique set of products highly demanded worldwide; and (4) lead the packaging machinery provision of A-PET packaging machinery for SMEs.

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