Industry 4.0 | Dial Two-Twentyfive for success

Interviewing Jürgen Heindl, Chief Executive Officer at Progroup AG


These numbers identify the strategies by the means of which Prowell, a subsidiary of Progroup, plans to consolidate its position as a global provider of technologies and services to the paper industry, building upon the expansion of its productive capacity in Central Europe.

Prowell, a proinent player in the corrugated sheet board segment, has recently announced the launch of its Two Twentyfive strategy, thanks to which it aims to consolidate its role in the paper industry. The roadmap builds upon the expansion of its production capacity, that will allow the subsidiary of the world reknown Progroup holding to add a further 250,000 volume to its overall annual output. Therefore, the German company will prove able to produce as much as 1.380 million tonnes of material per year, thus strengthening its positioning in the Central European corrugated sheet board market. Also, Prowell Plößberg, headquartered in Germany; and Prowell Trzcinica, based in Poland, partnered up to establish a packaging park in Drizzona, in the Italian province of Cremona, whereas Progroup is working on a new plant in the United Kingdom, near the existing facilities in Ellesmere Port. Jürgen Heindl, Chief Executive Officer at Progroup AG, explained Paper Industry World the most important points of strength of the Two Twentyfive strategy, and its relevant goals.

Could You please spend a few words, Mr. Heindl, about the Two Twentyfive initiative and, most of all, about the targets it aims to achieve and the methods it builds upon?

«There is no doubt that the last strategic decade has involved very eventful years for Progroup. The end of the 2015 financial year marked the culmination of our last ten-year strategy. For the next decade, the aforementioned project now merges seamlessly into the new Two Twentyfive strategic period. With the Two Twentyfive initiative we are today embarking on the next ten-year period ahead of us with ambitious projects and a success-oriented approach, building on the tried-and-tested principle of strategy – structure – culture. The aim is that to expand our positioning in the sheet feeding market segment, in the Central European region.»

How does the Industry 4.0 philosophy fit into the aforementioned strategy?

«In our view Industry 4.0, indicating highly automated processes and networking over the entire supply chain, together with an excellent asset structure, is the prerequisite for the strategically important goal of cost leadership in the industry. Furthermore, the optimization of both processes and organization can ensure maximum reliability in deliveries.»

Therefore, what does the Industry 4.0 concept mean to You and Your company; and what were the very guidelines and milestones you followed in order to deploy it?

«It is possibly worth to notice that Progroup has always and consistently followed the concept and the advancements of Computer Integrated Production. Nowadays, Progroup gives a very individual meaning to the Industry 4.0 approach. Here, it is not only about communicating products and machines that can run individually. Instead, it is about productionlines that can move by themselves in a fully automatic mode. Their decisions are therefore based on the overall system’s requirements and this system itself is in charge for coordinating the single internal capacities – namely: paper production and corrugated board production, logistic operations – with external requirements, such as customer orders. The broad-based project dubbed as ProSystems, which is also formulated in our Two Twentyfive strategy, aims to bring all systems and production facilities down to industry standards.»

What kind of role will Your Italian partners, and of course the newly established Prowell Italian plant, play in your overall Industry 4.0-oriented business paradigm?

«Both for Prowell and its worldwide partners, the Industry 4.0 concept indicates the possibility to generate remarkable cost advantages in terms of organization and operations. This is a most critical aspect that we must carefully take into account, in order to achieve long-term competitive advantages in a commodity-based business, and in order to grow profitably.»

Is the paper and board industry to be considered 4.0-ready, in Your opinion, or what kind of actions should it take to innovate its business and its manufacturing models?

«We do know that the paper and corrugated board sectors represent a rather conservative industry. My opinion, is therefore that it will undoubtedly take some time to adapt both processes and assets to the new Industry 4.0 standard, that requires long-term investments.»

What’s the importance of Italy in your overall business and what steps are you going to take, in the near future, to further develop your business in the country?

«The Italian market is crucial, because it represent the largest sheet-board market all across Europe. There is no doubt that Progroup, as one of the leading sheet-feeders in the whole continent, should also play an important role in the Italian scenario. In addition, we are confident that we can provide Italian customers and operators with a breath of fresh air, thanks to our most innovative packaging park model. This way, we also aim to strengthen the positioning of our clients in this region too. For the moment, anyway, Progroup AG has no further plans for the Italian market, apart from the project we are implementing in Drizzona.»

All about the packaging park
The new Prowell plant in Drizzona (near Cremona, in Northern Italy) will reportedly become fully operational in the first quarter of next year, under the denomination of Prowell Srl. The facility, according to Progroup sources, will allow the German holding to enter the largest corrugated sheet-board market in Europe, therefore consistently following the company’s Two Twentyfive strategy. In fact, this roadmap includes the expansion of the manufacturer’s production capacity, with the goal of acquiring further shares of the market. Prowell facilities will be installed close to those of Imbal Carton’s, a leading player in the Italian packaging industry, and will be equipped with a corrugating line, so to fulfil Imbal Carton’s demand without any additional logistic cost. This will also give Prowell and Progroup the capability to consolidate the successful business model they launched with the inauguration of the packaging park II at Prowell Plößberg, Germany, and Prowell Trzcinica, in Poland. A brand new corrugating line will also be installed in Drizzona, offering the firm the possibility to produce some 100,000 tonnes of corrugated board sheets per year, in different formats and at a 350 meters per minute operating speed. The manufacturing of single-wall and double-wall corrugated board – in B; B-NG; C and E qualities, plus combinations – is also planned. It is then worth noticing that Prowell announced the intention to hire 40 employees at least, in the Drizzona packaging park alone. The packaging park will be entirely integrated in the Progroup network, so to ensure that critical information, such as orders, are constantly monitored by a centralised, high-efficiency system. According to Progroup, this will pave the way to further synergies, that will support the group in completing the integration of the Italian facility into Progroup’s entrepreneurial paradigm, as well as into the packaging park II model, following the German and Polish experiences.