GER ELETTRONICA, Drive the power of data

Ger Elettronica, company based in Montecchio Maggiore (Vicenza province) and leader in the production of devices for controlling the tanning process, has launched the GLOBAL TANNERY 4.0 project.

“The stop caused by Covid-19 gave us time to devote ourselves to several important activities and projects, which we will develop over the year.” That’s what stated Cesare Dal Monte, General Manager of GER ELETTRONICA, at ProssimaPelle, held in mid-July in Santa Croce sull’Arno (Pisa). The company, leader in the production and marketing of systems for the control and efficiency of tanning processes, works in the Arzignano leather district but is renowned worldwide for the production of several technologies, such as the leather surface and thickness measuring machines, the IRIS colorimeter for checking the in-line chromatic quality, the spray control paint economizers and devices for the energy efficiency of the systems, electronic equipment for industrial automation, supervision software. “During the lockdown, when the machines were off, – explains Dal Monte – we carried on the industrial project, that we previously agreed to start with our employees, all aware of the path we are taking. They all worked from home throughout the whole period: despite the difficulties caused by the health restrictions, we managed to carry out the project within the scheduled time, in spring. GER ELETTRONICA’s strategy, to all effects its mission, is to accompany our customers from Industry 1.0, the basic company, to the most modern and innovative Tannery 4.0. All of this by commuting our traditional offer in terms of products and services.”

 Cesare Dal Monte ger elettronica
Cesare Dal Monte Ger Elettronica

What does this path consist of? It is mainly oriented to data focusing, a new theme already launched to Italian and foreign entrepreneurs at the Tanning Tech show, last February: on that occasion we presented the slogan DRIVE THE POWER OF DATA and from there we are basically reconstructing a virtual path. From a practical point of view, this project consists in a restructuring of the tannery organization, divided into three software levels. We are currently the only ones in the world who can offer this system, destined to be successful over the next years as it’s highly innovative.

Can you explain it in detail, starting from the first level? It is dedicated to operators and closely connected to the machinery, starting from the sensors that read the data from the machines in order to make production accurate. When the operator inserts the leather into the machine, our sensors read the features of the leather, monitoring the quality of the whole performance. The software we have installed, which also includes scanning, allows the operator to intervene whenever a problem occurs. GER ELETTRONICA is increasingly implementing the number of sensors capable of translating sizes and characteristics of the hide and getting an efficient archive through the data digitization. In other words, reading what is written on the skin in a biological way is transformed into numbers through a smart system that we can handle ourselves.

What about the second level? It is the one usually dedicated to the foreman, who decides whether the order or the lot are proceeding correctly by keeping under control some important indicators. The foreman can make corrections when a “drift” occurs; the previous operator is often not able to notice this error, not for his fault, but trivially because he must only check the leather, while the foreman has a complete view of the whole block and therefore can rely on a complete image of the process.

And finally, the third level… This last software phase, specifically the I.DATA, belongs to the production manager or to the owner of the tannery who, through what we have called Software of Business Intelligence, is able to read the data generated by the sensors of all the machines and of all departments thus having a complete view of the tannery progress.

Is it correct to call this process a “revolution”? Absolutely, as it’s also essential from an economic and savings point of view. As a matter of fact, we have moved to another “era” according to production, characterized by a careful saving regime, more in line with current times. A few years ago, you could afford to produce 100 leathers starting from 150 hide, perhaps discarding the remaining parts to downgrade them to a different level. Today, 100 final leathers must be generated starting from a maximum of 110 hides. This can be possible only if a rigid quality control in undertaken. In order to reach an optimal performance, these are the figures a tannery must stick on.

How much did the high-quality items demand and the products intended for the automotive sector affected the launch of this project? The automotive industry, which in recent years has increasingly entered the world of leather, has brought the most exasperated concepts of quality and excellent performance to the tanning sector. Only through the process optimization profits will arise in the next years, also according to the economic consequences related to the health emergency, that will inevitably cause a decrease in production volumes, a trend that had already started.

One last question: what kind of role will GER ELETTRONICA continue to play in this “revolution”? One of our tasks is to understand what is happening outside the tanning sector and to treasure it. Up to now, the leather market has devoted considerable attention to the strong control on chemistry, also for an environmental matter, leaving out all the mechanical issues. When you are forced to “look for the crumbs”, it is also necessary to work on the mechanical part to ensure further profits. The final step is evident: I.DATA is a system that allows tanneries to make a leap forward, an eye from above that sees all the processing stages, as well as the selection and control of leathers.