TE.CO.ME. is a company of San Giorgio delle Pertiche, in the province of Padua. Founded in 2005 by Mr. Luigino Bragotto, class 1948, continuing his entrepreneurial adventure that began in 1989. The acronym stands for TEcnologie COmputerizzate MEccaniche (Computerized Mechanical Technologies), and well represents the company’s approach, oriented towards the future and continuous updating. “In addition to the company, I’m interested in music and football, and when I can go fishing. Now that I’m retired, I have left the guidance of the company to others, although I still continue to make my contribution when they need it”, says Luigino.
Along with Luigino there are his two sons (Joys and Michel) and a valid and passionate consultant, Antonello Bragagnolo. In total TE.CO.ME. is composed of 16 operators and 3 owners. The operators are very experienced in the use of numerical control machines, even sophisticated ones, which are indispensable skills to compete today. But, as Luigino tells us,”skills are important but not indispensable. What matters is passion: if you have the passion, you can develop your skills and achieve results.
TE.CO.ME. is involved in laser cutting and press brake bending, especially in high aesthetic value processing:
The production capacity of TE. CO. ME. are their strength and daily challenge. In addition, the company is constantly pursuing the search for the best aesthetic and qualitative result:”Many customers have approached us and entrusted their products to us because the client has managed to find the results he wanted in TE.CO.ME.”. A very special anecdote in this regard concerns a company that by pure chance has received some special products from TECOME: a person inside the company, without knowing the origin of that piece, asked if “by chance it had been made by TE.CO.ME.”. In other words, he recognized a higher quality supply simply by looking at a piece of fabricated sheet metal. The owners tell us: “These are our satisfactions: to be able to do what others do, trying to do better”.
Also from the point of view of TE. CO. ME precision. is not afraid of comparisons: they can achieve 100% tolerance even for large batches. To achieve these results, it is essential to have a fleet of top quality machines that are constantly maintained and maintained. “As far as bending is concerned, we have 5 Gasparini press brakes, from 2 to 5 metres, of which we are very proud”, says Luigino.
Within TE. CO. CO. ME., the figure of Eng. Bragagnolo (who besides being a consultant also has his own sheet metal design studio) was also wanted for commercial assistance and customer research. But as the engineer himself tells us,”I don’t know if by chance or bad luck, but I have never come out to look for customers: since we were born we have been known simply by word of mouth, on the basis of our quality and service offered. Very often we have had to reject orders, renounce certain processing operations for reasons of space, time or resources. We prefer to be honest and not to get an order if we have to put in trouble the already active orders”. For the company, starting a relationship with a customer is a step-by-step process that needs to be tackled in small steps. After a preparatory process, which serves to understand whether the two parties are suitable for working together, we start with a small job order, with few codes. Agreement is reached on dates, mode of execution, required quality and delivery times. If all goes well, you can continue with other orders.
“With this method we are able to build customer loyalty, who then also rely on us for the engineering and industrialisation of their products. We help them to reduce costs and time, and improve the quality of the finished product. The challenge for us is to acquire a constant flow of orders that guarantees continuity. Nowadays, a customer tries to rely on a single supplier for repeatability in the supply. However, to avoid the costs of the warehouse, customers also outsource peaks of demand upstream, requiring short and constant delivery times”.
To succeed, TE. CO. ME. has changed from nesting management to a job management. The first is to group pieces of different orders depending on the sheet metal to be cut, in order to minimize waste and movements. The downside is the lengthening of waiting times, as other similar orders have to be expected before cutting a certain piece. On the other hand, TE. CO. ME. works on a job basis: the necessary sheet metal is processed at the time it is needed, even if this leads to higher costs. This means that production times are predictable and can be met. The kanban approach also contributes to reducing delivery times: a certain quantity of items is agreed with the customer and can be automatically reordered once a batch of parts has been delivered. This ensures very short delivery times even for products with complex machining operations.
Messrs Bragotto of TE. CO. ME. share his innovative vision with Mr Bragagnolo. With regard to the smart factory and Industry 4.0, they consider it important to connect people as well as machines. “We work here with lots of small batches; on average we use a laser 10/12 times a day and a press brake 8/10 times a day. For us, the important thing is not so much to automate production, because products of the highest aesthetic level must be treated «with white gloves» by hand. In this way, we are able to achieve percentages of contested parts of less than 0.4%. We also make mistakes and generate non-conformities, especially at the beginning, when a code is new for us too, something can slip away. Once you have noticed the problem, it enters the records so that the next time it is not repeated. Maybe other problems, but not the same one: the same problem must not be repeated twice. That is why we need a tool to circulate information, so that people can understand for themselves what they have to do and how. We are aiming for a business system that can provide timely information on the work to be done. We are implementing a tool that can give us information on job orders, planning, workload, so that we know whether or not we can acquire an emergency”.
Finding ways to deal efficiently with the fragmentation of orders is certainly a major challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises. Large batches are the prerogative of larger companies and especially of other areas of the planet. From the production point of view, often changing products also imposes a greater amount of non-productive time, which is lost in order to manage the order, equip and program the machine, move the material and so on. “Today’s world is like that, and we cannot change it,” says Luigino. “Customers no longer want to maintain a warehouse: whoever is fast and flexible survives. Paradoxically, the price variable remains out of this equation. “Our competition has lower prices, but nobody gives our times with our constancy”.
Bragagnolo also tells us about his passion for lean production, and for the techniques of continuous process improvement: “Our own operators become lean without knowing that they are lean, they simply apply it”. Collaboration and transversal listening among the operators is of great importance: “If we have problems, mini meetings take place in the workshop, in front of the machine, and when faced with the problem we decide together how to solve it”.
In conclusion, we asked Mr Bragotto of TE.CO.ME. to describe their company in three adjectives:”Lean, precise, fast. These are three important words, which, in addition to describing us, represent for us a goal in constant evolution. Only by constantly pursuing these goals can we maintain and overcome the quality and reliability that our customers seek and appreciate”.