Giuseppe Di Lieto, General Manager, Gefran Siei Asia, shares with us on Gefran’s recent products development and how embracing the internet of things brings the company forward in the region. Article by Ahmad Alshidiq.
Gefran is an Italian multinational company, specialising in designing and manufacturing of sensors, systems and components for the automation and control of industrial processes. Gefran stands out for its expertise, flexibility and quality of processes in the production of tools and integrated systems for specific applications in various industrial fields. It has a consolidated know-how in the industry of plastics, metal, lift and heat treatment.
Gefran operates in the major markets through six production branches in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Switzerland and the US. In addition, there are commercial subsidiaries in France, the UK, Belgium, India, Singapore, Turkey and more than 80 international distributors for global sales support.
With the rise of Industry 4.0, could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding process automation and control in industrial manufacturing?
The trend we have observed across all the end-markets we serve is machinery becoming smarter and better integrated into the whole manufacturing plant ecosystem, with operators integrating digital technologies to improve plant performance, increase productivity, and reduce waste and energy consumption. In our own space, we have observed few of the industrial automation majors investing in expanding capabilities in areas such as digital platforms, IoT, AI and Big Data. At Gefran, we have invested in developing sensing and automation technology to serve this new market reality, specifically, in developing products capable of collecting, storing and exchanging data, optimising process control, reducing machine downtime and implementing predictive maintenance practices.
What is latest technology implemented or developed by Gefran for its clients?
We have just introduced a great new product at the Hannover Messe in April, and will introduce such products in Asia at Chinaplas later in May. Gefran new contactless position transducers HYPERWAVE push the envelope of magnetostrictive sensing technology to new heights, with a signal amplification 15 times higher than the previous series, ensuring a repeatability of 0.01 mm (one hundredth of a millimetre) and a resolution of less than 0.5 µm. The elimination of mechanical contact makes these sensors nearly immune to wear, significantly reducing cost and downtime over a lifespan incredibly long.
We have also released our advanced controllers Series 2850T/3850T that are capable of recording and storing many-month worth of operational data and make such data accessible through the cloud to other machine operators around the world; this capability is of tremendous value to our global customers which can exchange and analyse performance data across multiple manufacturing plants at different locations.
What are your expectations for the HYPERWAVE in Asia and Southeast Asia?
The magnetostrictive linear positioning sensing segment in Asia is growing at double digit rate and represents an opportunity we intend to capture. The range of applicability is broad: from plastic processing to metal working, as well as energy, wood, pulp & paper processing, food & beverage processing and many other sectors. It is interesting to notice that the transition from potentiometric to magnetostrictive technology in linear positioning measurement has already occurred for many years in mature markets such as Europe and the US, where industrial manufacturers are willing to pay a premium for machinery with state-of-the-art technology. As a number of large Asian machine manufacturers expand overseas and target more sophisticated customers, and as Asian domestic markets become more technology-sensitive themselves, this trend is becoming visible in our region as well. The addition of HYPERWAVE to our product line of magnetostrictive linear positioning sensors is instrumental to capture this potential.
How are the data stored in the Series 2850T/3850T secured from any threat or mishap?
Data registered by our controllers are secured by a proprietary encryption system and can be accessed only by mean of a proprietary application. Our engineers have worked very hard in insuring data security was taken to the highest consideration.
What are the main challenges faced by your industry in Southeast Asia?
The main challenge, I believe faced not only in our region but globally, is dealing with the rapidly changing trends in the manufacturing industry, which may cause the industry take a new turn and a technology become obsolete in the course of few years. Nowadays, you need not only to keep up with the latest technology trends, but indeed have to shape the directions technology is going. At Gefran, we are able to accomplish that through our strong ties with leading industry players in the segments we play and through the collaboration with major universities and technology labs, which allow us stay always at the forefront of the latest R&D developments. With regard to challenges specific to Southeast Asia, I would quote the market fragmentation and the price-level sensitivity; however, when performance and reliability matters, we have observed big customers always falling back on few international reputable suppliers, our Company being one of those.
How do you see the future of Gefran in this fast changing industry environment?
As mentioned above, in a fast changing business environment, our goal is to maintain agility and invest in developing technology that benefits our broad customer base. Our current focus is on developing technology providing de-localised sensing and control capabilities, machinery connectivity as well as manufacturing data management. Whether through our inverters, sensors, automation platforms, process controllers and power controllers, we aim to increase the efficiency of production processes, reduce power consumption and improve machine downtime in a safe, eco-friendly and reliable manner.
Our company was founded 50 years ago by entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity and put talent and hard work in – it is not an overstatement – developing an industry. Today, Gefran has the mass and the structure of a public listed company but we maintain the entrepreneurial spirit: we are driven by technology, innovation, agility, doing the right things for our customers and our employees; we focus on developing talent and the system, knowing that with the right people and the right system in place, success will come as a natural consequence. When I look at how quickly and effectively we can anticipate industry trends and introduce new products with state-of-the-art technology to the market, I am more and more convinced that the best days are ahead of us.
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