STARCO invests €2.5 million in strengthening manufacturing capabilities
Over the course of this year STARCO, has focused on the OE business and has invested significantly in strengthening its European manufacturing setup to meet the demands of current and future OE customers. Investments looking to total more than €2.5 million will continue next year, with a focus on the steel wheel factory in Croatia and the polypropylene wheel & polyurethane tyre factory in Great Britain.
This year, STARCO has reinforced its focus on the OE business and is currently phasing out traditional replacement market activities in Poland and France.
“A strategic shift like this can obviously create many questions in the market – both about our future and about our financial situation. The fact is that our direction is clearer and more aligned than ever, and our financial foundation is stronger than in previous years,” explains Richard Todd, Chief Executive Officer at STARCO. He continues: “Our OE focus is fundamental. I truly believe we bring the most value to our customers when we use our extensive application knowledge, product development skills, unique manufacturing setup and of course, not forgetting our 55 years of experience.”
This OE focus impacts STARCO’s Croatian steel wheel factory in particular and a volume increase of 20% is expected there next year. This is only made possible through an initiative started in 2016, which invests in new equipment and drives increased productivity through the further application of Lean methodology.
“We are experiencing a stronger demand from the market for our products,” explains Mario Biscan, Managing Director at STARCO’s Croatian factory. He joined the company in 2009 and the development since then is evident.
“This year, we have doubled our e-coat and paint capacity, doubled our pressed wheel capacity, increased our spun wheels capacity by 40%, and will now start to invest in automation projects throughout the factory in 2017. Many of our efficiency improvements come, however, from ‘shop floor ideas’ and a genuine continuous improvement culture.”
Mario Biscan can count 75 larger implemented improvement initiatives and more than 150 minor ideas in 2016. Some of these in-house ideas are major projects, such as the innovative paint chain, whereas others are small, such as shaving seconds off changeover times that are already measured in minutes.
“Even though many of the ideas are small,” Mario Biscan says, “when combined, they are significant and keep us one step ahead – and make us a proud team.”
STARCO excels in production of high-quality steel wheels for various applications, such as trailers and large tractors. “We are very competitive when it comes to flexibility, with low lead time, no minimum order quantity and low development costs,” says Mario Biscan. The factory is also getting closer to the customer, and for the last 6 months has been offering the complete solution, with a new automated tyre-fitting line able to service customers directly from the factory.
STARCO is not only investing in its Croatian facility but also around the rest of group, such as the automation of the patented polyurethane tyre process at the UK factory. STARCO has manufacturing entities in China, Sri Lanka, Croatia and Great Britain. STARCO’s Sri Lankan factory produces solid tyres, the Chinese factory produces wheels for trailers and caravans, and the British factory specialises in PU wheels for the ground care and utility segment, covering lawn mowers and wheelbarrows, for instance. Besides in-house production, STARCO partners with various suppliers that produce STARCO-developed and branded tyres.
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