Piovan expanding in the United States

Photo by Don Loepp Piovan's Universal Dynamics Inc. will move to a new facility in Fredricksburg and expects to retain all 120 of its employees

Global auxiliary equipment company Piovan is getting ready to expand its US operation in 2017, in a major move to a new facility in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The news means Piovan’s Universal Dynamics unit will be moving outside the Washington, D.C., Beltway, where it’s been located since 1960.

“The new plant is very much in line with what we’re used to. It will have a tall roof, natural sunlight, and the entire setting … will be based on our lean Kaizen principals,” said Piovan Chief Marketing Officer Giorgio Santella.

The plant will be similar to Piovan’s factories in Italy, China, Brazil and Germany, Santella said.

It’s a change of plans for Una-Dyn, which just last year had announced plans to expand in Woodbridge, Va. But the company has always been a bit of an anomaly there — the District of Columbia economy is dominated by the federal government and government contractors, and has few factories.

“We’re along the Route 1 corridor near a commuter rail station. It made more sense to sell this property than to build in an area where there’s not a lot of industrial manufacturing,” said Una-Dyn President Bill Goldfarb.

Simply put, the property in Woodbridge became too valuable for manufacturing.

Fredericksburg is only about 30 miles south, but it’s more accommodating to industry. The company is moving into an existing 110,000-square-foot building that will be modified for equipment manufacturing.

Una-Dyn currently has only 75,000 square feet of space in two buildings in Woodbridge, where it makes material handling systems, dryers, loaders, blenders, chillers and granulators. Una-Dyn does all manufacturing in-house, starting with flat sheet metal.

The company expects all 120 of the Woodbridge workers to relocate to Fredericksburg. Goldfarb said Piovan considered moving out of state, but chose to stay in Virginia to retain its trained workforce. Work will shift to Fredericksburg in stages, starting in the first half of 2017.

Santa Maria di Sala, Italy-based Piovan bought Una-Dyn in 2008. Una-Dyn is in the D.C. area because its original business was selling dehumidifiers to the government for missile sites, warehouses and mothballed ships. The company shifted into plastics in the 1960s.

Goldfarb is enthusiastic about the project, which will enable the company to improve the production flow and add manufacturing of more Piovan product lines, including some dryers and blenders, as well as temperature controls and size-reduction equipment. Una-Dyn has been adding local production of Piovan products, but still ships some from Europe.

“It’s a Piovan strategy to think globally and act globally,” Goldfarb said.

“We see 2017 as the year that we will be aggressively looking at developing our entire business in all of North America,” Santella added. “With the new location, we have the possibility of doubling our production capacity.”

Piovan expects to post 2016 sales of €200m — that’s up from €155m in 2014 — and Santella said the new factory is an important step to help reach its North American goals.

At K 2016, the company is launching a new product, Winfactory 4.0, a supervisory software that allows its auxiliary equipment to communicate with primary processing machines. The technology is in line with the German Industry 4.0 concept for digital manufacturing.

Santella excitedly explained the advantages of the technology. For example, a moulder can now easily track the entire cost of making a part on a specific injection press — including the energy cost of the press and all the auxiliary equipment — and compare it to the cost of making the same part on other machines, or in other plants, or even in other countries.

From there, they can compare the performance of different mould temperature controls, dryers, blenders — virtually every manufacturing variable.

“All of this becomes very simple to achieve — something that yesterday was a wish,” he said.

The Piovan exhibit at K 2016 has an Industry 4.0 “corner” with four largest screens displaying the characteristics of the system. Santella said Piovan has a few beta installations of the technology.

Other products at K 2016 include an operating conveying and dosing system with the Easylink automatic distribution solutions coupled with the Pureflo filterless receivers; a new line of beside-the-press granulators; and the launch of Easycool+, a new line of air and water cooled chillers.