Today’s made-in-Italy story also includes the tree Day, in other words a day whose meaning is still to be invented and disseminated throughout the country. And what about the made-in-Italy story in 2013? It is a story that may take on a whole new significance provided that the meaning of these three words are taken to a new dimension. The word ‘made-in-Italy’ that sounded so magic in the ‘80s — the years of a rampant and unabashed boom — and are still relevant today if we understand the true value of the made-in-Italy system in 2013, not only when these words are applied to beautiful clothing or a spaghetti pack but also to a centuries-old tree, a mountain village, or a pristine, unspoiled beach. We decided to elaborate on this with Claudio Montanari, sales manager of the Montanari laundry located in Modena (central Italy), which for the last 50 years has been exporting the ultimate in manual and automated systems worldwide, offering a major contribution to the history of the rental laundry industry. – Mr. Montanari, let’s start from the fact that we are surprised not to meet you in your-state-of-the-art factory in Modena but rather in the Apennine Mountains that surround the town of Montombraro which is located a stone’s throw from the birthplace of Vasco Rossi and where you can admire this centuries-old chestnut tree that ranks among Italy’s landmark trees. “There is not much to be surprised at. One of the values that over the last few years has gained the most momentum is the greater and more widespread awareness of our environment. My brother and I are firmly intent on handing over the reins of our company to my sons Federico and Andrea, who are 18 and 13 years old today and my nephew, who is 15 years old, only if this company can work in a protected and sustainable environment”. -I fully agree with you and I think you are in good company, as more and more people today seem to be aware of the importance of our environment. How do you explain all this? “Climate changes and the pollution effects negatively affect all of us. But this also means that the current economic slump is going to bring about irreversible changes as well as new priorities to take into account”. -How can you take stock of the general situation of the laundry industry? “In different ways, for instance, in the specific case of the industrial laundry sector it is important to monitor the pulse of tourism. Here — as also reported by the Detergo magazine — an authoritative website such as TripAdvisor which is visited by millions of citizens around the world, reports that despite the crisis, 37% of tourists is willing to pay more for environmentally sustainable hotels”. -And? “And therefore, in order to nurse the made-in-Italy system back to health, it is not enough to do your job professionally inside your company but you need to network with external players and proactively contribute to environmental protection because company profits are useless if your environment is polluted, unhealthy and likely to turn off visitors rather than attract them”. -This partially accounts for the role of the centuries-old chestnut tree in Montombraro. “Exactly, what is the point of offering a perfect laundry service if tomorrow we run out of textiles to put in our tunnel washers? And textiles are synonymous with factory farming and vegetable cultivation, in other words the napkins we put on a restaurant table and the bed sheets we provide to hotels are not only the result of a processing operation but also of a continuous and respectful relationship with nature”. -And this has fueled the idea to bring back to life a Tree Day to celebrate trees “Correct, many Italians remember when, back in their elementary school days, their teachers used to take them to seed the new plants that perhaps have grown today to make that area truly special. The tree Day must be resurrected with a spirit that may engage as many people as possible and must be made contemporary by including the most topical issues that are keenly felt in our times”. -Your words conjure up a very unique vision of the future. “ There can be no future if you’re not inspired by the past, by the centuries this chestnut tree required to become so imposing and luxuriant”.
OMNIBUS Montanari “just in time”for all companies
Omnibus, the system that streamlines the business operations of Montanari, an Italian leading brand. Normally “just in time” systems allow to produce only and exclusively what the client asks for in the time and quantities that the client desires. But what businessmen actually would like to have is a production system that is flexible enough to continuously adjust to demand patterns both in terms of number of items and quantity. This is such an ambitious goal that many businessmen remain skeptical: “A just-in-time approach will not work in my company”. However, there is an important factor to consider: while adjustment to the number of items is a realistic and attainable goal, adjustment to the overall workload in terms of production resources can be more harmful than beneficial in the short term. In fact, for a production system to be efficient, the workload should be as steady and regular as possible.
Except for a few special cases, it is impossible to “turn on and off” overnight the costs associated with personnel or equipment depreciation and factory rents. These are, in fact, fixed costs and if the resources associated with these costs are underused, the company will have to incur a virtual cost for the unused production capacity. This would be a waste (as is overproduction) that must be avoided. These two needs generate a conflict that must be addressed and eliminated.
One possible solution could be to develop one or more fast-moving items (frequently ordered high-volume items) in your company’s product portfolio for which a low obsolescence risk inventory could be built.
Building and managing a buffer stock with these items, in other words a control stock, may streamline and stabilize the production system, making it at least partially less contingent on demand fluctuations. In fact, this system will make it possible to easily process orders for stock items and eliminate any pressing needs for urgent production runs.
This will result in a smart just-in-time system rather than a just-in-time approach “to the letter” that wouldn’t make much sense. In other cases, if an accurate analysis reveals that building such a buffer stock would not be particularly cost effective or would be overly risky, the focus should be on maximizing product mix flexibility and efficiently managing priorities in order to smooth out work peaks.
This most likely occurs in companies that work with custom-specified products with a potentially large number of items and with a very fragmented product mix.
Omnibus, Montanari’s brainchild , should not be understood as an inflexible system designed to slavishly align production with demand, but rather as a tool to meet clients’ needs by offering the best service possible and optimizing the company’s production system.