Stefano Cavallari: “GIMA TT and my perspective on the tobacco industry and future possibilities”
GIMA TT was born flexible and everything began as a startup in 2009 with a few brave people, including myself, who believed in the idea of building a new concept of machine for the tobacco industry.
At that time the market for tobacco packaging was evolving in the direction of several new special packets which did not require big production volumes but needed the possibility of being launched quickly and without huge investments.
Well knowing the tobacco industry, we believed that a niche for flexible machines able to changeover quickly with a reasonable investment was existing and we took the chance of developing a platform to compete in that niche, as a division of GIMA.
Meanwhile, GIMA was acquired by IMA Group and thanks to the big shoulders of our mother company, which helped us in obtaining the financial strength required by the multinationals of the tobacco industry, the tobacco project started growing. The first cigarette packing line was delivered in 2012 and in early 2013 we became an independent company named Gima TT.
In the following years, GIMA TT became a preferred supplier for the tobacco multinationals as well as independent players of the tobacco industry for innovative projects in conventional cigarettes and leading supplier for Next Generation Products. This brought our company to be listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in 2017.
One of GIMA TT’s key strengths is in its focus on electronic. Our idea of developing a fully electronic packaging line to achieve the maximum flexibility came from the new market need of running on the same machine different packet styles. From the beginning, we focused our attention on a single platform, able to run with conventional and NGP products. In 2009 we developed the FLEX-A packer, which comes with its flexible stamper, wrapper, and cartoner. That was the line, which we launched first on the market.
Flexibility is the key for us: the line is capable to perform a complete changeover of all the three dimensions of the packet in less than five shifts, while the change of the packet height only can be done in one shift. Moreover, the number of packets that the same machine is able to produce is countless: double bundle, sealed bundle, hermetic seal, double blank, any kind of cigarette length and diameter, including heat-not-burn sticks, and pretty much any geometry of packet that you see on the market today.
This flexibility was appreciated by our customers since it gives them the freedom of using our line to launch new products, always keeping the possibility to change it over to a different packet style. Just to give you an idea, we had a machine in Europe delivered in 2012 which changed format already eight times since then!
After over 100 Flex-A lines installed and based on the experience gained on our first platform, we realized that there was the possibility of updating some areas of the line in order to improve the stability, increase the efficiency, and run at higher speed. This brought us to a new upgraded version of the FLEX-A line, which came to the market in 2017 and became the new standard platform for GIMA TT at a speed of over 500 packets per minute. Today several lines have been already sold in the new version and we expect many other to come soon, leaving us to be more flexible from the packet to the display carton!
Talking about the present situation, especially thinking about the conventional market, the recent introduction of the TPD2 regulation, as well as Plain Packaging and Shell & Slide in some countries, generated confusion and some issues in the tobacco industry. I can say that these new regulations have been, in a certain point of view, an opportunity for GIMA TT thanks to the flexibility of our platform and the countless number of packets and different geometries that we can handle. Moreover, in case the TPD2 regulation evolves and changes in the future, our machines can easily evolve too and tomorrow handle a packet totally different from the one has been designed for.
In general, we see the tobacco market for conventional products heading to lower volumes per SKU and to a multitude of different packet styles, brands, and flavors. This is again a field where GIMA TT can help its customers since our platform can grant good productivity but also a quick response to the new requests coming from the market, being easy to be brand changed and handled/adjusted by clients’ technicians and operators.
In the coming years, I think this trend will keep going together with all the new Next Generation Products (NGP) coming on the market, which require special packaging to incorporate the different elements present in the pack (blisters, flow-packs, booklets, etc.). I see every day new RRP and NGP products coming on the market and from the research on the tobacco industry, it looks like these new products will be smoothly taking more and more market share to the conventional cigarettes in the coming years. And it is on these products that most of our clients are focusing their attention and investments.
When you handle an NGP product you can find inside the packet a variety of different things: electronic devices, cartomizers in blisters or flow-packs, pods, booklets, etc., and GIMA TT, thanks to the available technology within IMA Group, is capable to provide turn-key solutions to manage all these different components supplying complete lines composed by machines all manufactured by IMA companies.
Mr. Cavallari obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bologna in 1976. In the same year he joined G.D S.p.A., where he held several positions until he became commercial and marketing Manager of the group in 1995. From 1999 until 2004 he was General Manager of ACMA S.p.A. and was responsible for the packaging activities of the Coesia group. During the same period he was also a consultant for GIMA S.p.A. From 2006 until 2009 he was General Manager of CT PACK S.p.A. From 2010 until 2012 he worked together with GIMA S.p.A. as Coordinator and Responsible Manager for the Business Development. He has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2013 and also holds the role of General Manager.