• Manufacturers of components for the production of machines, which are divided in:
– Custom-designed component suppliers, supplying components on the basis of drawings and projects prepared by the Group;
– Catalogue components (“commercial”) suppliers, who provide components that are available in manufacturers’ catalogues.
• Project suppliers, for goods and services closely related to customers’ projects, such as assembly, design, third-party machinery;
• Other suppliers (so-called non-manufacturing suppliers).
In the choice of suppliers, IMA guarantees absolute impartiality and undertakes to comply strictly with the agreed terms of payment (all purchases have always been regulated according to the agreements). In particular, production-related suppliers are also selected taking into account a criterion of “proximity” (partner companies in product innovation, companies operating in the local production cluster, etc.).
Each company within IMA’s supply chain must guarantee a high level of quality and sustainability: to increase the added value of its offer, IMA has to use selected suppliers and partners, involving them actively in the processes of design, manufacture and assembly of machines. At the same time, the Group monitors the high quality standards requested as well as the technical and regulatory requirements throughout the supply chain. The goal is to share rigorous methods and standards and then share the successes as well.
THE IMA MODEL FOR MANAGING THE SUPPLY CHAIN
IMA’s approach to the supply chain has always been innovative, developing over time an unconventional model.
The win-win partnership approach has evolved with IMA taking an equity interest in the most strategic suppliers. In this way, the company has tackled successfully the recent growth-related challenges. Thanks to this model, which is perfectly consistent with Industry 4.0 logic, the supply chain obtains support for its investment in new machinery and productive equipment, as well as for the organizational and IT development required by the new industrial revolution.
Dematerialization, control of production scheduling, 3D and Additive Manufacturing are just some of the aspects that IMA is working on together with the most important suppliers. All this translates into projects that are already operational, ranging from the implementation of an integrated ERP system that also covers the supply chain (online tools for the receipt of purchase orders and engineering drawings), to collaboration on Additive Manufacturing projects, that will revolutionize methodologies for the design and construction of components for automated machines.
This is just the start of a road that will further facilitate the collaboration between the Group as principal and the supply chain. Given this, IMA will focus efforts over the next few years on supporting the 4.0 revolution, not just internally but also, and above all, among the artisans in the Bologna area, who are the wealth and strength of the automated machinery sector.
MAIN STAGES IN THE PRODUCTION OF AUTOMATIC MACHINES: THE IMA MODEL
Research & Development, a core activity for the Group, is carried out internally. However, certain design work on details, electrical circuits and software may be outsourced, especially at times of peak work.
Component Supply. This is the operational phase that is easiest to outsource. In the case of mechanical parts, the creation and management of a network of subcontractors able to guarantee the delivery times and quality required is of fundamental importance. As regards to commercial components, the strategic decision is to combine purchasing and storage at a single central structure.
Assembly. Some parts of the assembly process (such as mechanical assembly of the basic machine, wiring of the standard electrical panel) can be outsourced to reduce production lead-times.
Testing. Subcontractors are unlikely to bring added value in this phase because it involves the fine-tuning of mechanical movements, motion control and verifying compliance with the customers’ specifications.
Many of the strong contacts established by IMA in recent years are within its own industrial cluster, above all in Italy. These relationships sometimes take the form of minority investments (up to 30% of the share capital) in certain subcontractors. These are investments that serve to support the network of small local businesses, an active part of the process of innovation promoted by the Group: they are direct interventions, not only at a financial level, but also at a strategic level, which strengthen the cohesion of the production system and integrate the innovative potential of local players.
IMA assists these partner-suppliers with scouting for and selecting new subcontractors, effectively applying the Group’s organizational and process quality guidelines. IMA also encourages them to create second-level aggregations with super-specialised micro businesses which are inadequate to face the present competitive scenarios, in order to avoid dissipating know-how that represents the real value added of the Group. Physical proximity within a cluster is still today a very significant advantage.
For the subcontractor firms, IMA’s involvement results in benefits in terms of access to credit and better payment terms. The guarantee of financial solidity provided by the industrial Group helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to: obtain credit from banks (creating the conditions for new investment, which would be hard to achieve otherwise); use factoring for the collection of trade receivables; obtain advances (paid by IMA as the customer) in the case of large contracts in terms of sales between members of the network; increase, in general, their critical mass in relations with banks.
No significant changes arose in the supply chain organization during the reporting period.