Askoll: advanced technology and localization

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Italian headquarters and standardized manufacturing plants, located close to main customers: this is the formula adopted by Askoll to offer forefront products all over the world, with an unceasingly efficient service.

by Tiziana Corti

Developing an idea that was really innovative at that time, the application of the synchronous technology to small-size electric motors, Askoll starts making its way in the late Seventies. The constant improvement of this solution leads the company to introduce its various evolutions in various sectors and markets, where it still holds a relevant ranking. The current Askoll Group develops its production in three macro areas: Aquariums, Terrariums and Ponds, Electric Vehicles and, naturally, Household Appliance Components, the division with the highest weight in terms of turnover. In this field, Askoll goes on implementing cutting-edge, more and more efficient and sustainable solutions. The Group’s offer of components ranges from pumps to motors for washing appliances (drain pumps, recirculation pumps and drive motors for washing machines; drain pumps and washing pumps for dishwashers), up to convection and cooling fans for electric ovens. Recently the company is highly focusing also on dryers’ components, manufacturing very performing efficient drive motors and condensate drain pumps. The Group matches the long-term technological know-how with an organization purposely studied to offer customers an ever-rising high-level service, even under very complex conditions, as it happened during the most critical pandemic phases, when Askoll could rely on a strong synergy among its manufacturing sites spread in various geographical areas. To analyse thoroughly the company’s future strategies and, especially, the novelties of the Appliance division, we interviewed the CEO Alessandro Beaupain and the General Manager Appliance Mauro Bernardinello.

What are the outstanding highlights that characterize Askoll in the current market?
A.B.: Askoll Group, with headquarters in Italy, was established in 1978 to develop a revolutionary winning intuition conceived by its founder, Elio Marioni: the synchronous technology applied to small-size electric motors. This important innovation has been gradually improved and applied, in the over forty years of history of the Group, to four different sectors: Aquariums, Terrariums and Ponds, Appliance and Electric Vehicles, which today represent the three divisions of the Group, whereas the fourth ambit, heat pumps, was sold to Taco Group in 2016. Askoll, whose overall turnover approaches 180 million Euros, currently employs over 1400 collaborators, spread in eleven manufacturing factories located in six different Countries and three continents.

How could you define the mission of your Group?
A.B: Our mission, which embraces all businesses where Askoll operates, has always been the pursuit of energy saving, the reduction of raw materials’ use and the research of recyclable materials and solutions, to make products with low environmental impact. Our engineers design and develop innovative solutions, strongly conforming to end-users’ requirements and to the clear target of reaching technologically advanced solutions, anyway in compliance with the growth and development requisites of finished products. This great synergy allows us to implement quickly products consistently with the market’s expectations.

How much does the Appliance division weigh in the Group’s business?
M.B.: The Appliance division is currently the most important in terms of turnover and it avails itself of six operational factories in different Countries, like: Italy, Slovakia, Romania, Mexico, Brazil and China. Italy goes on managing the technical coordination and development activities for all the companies of the Groups: this choice, besides enhancing the Italian matrix of the Group itself and the numerous resources dedicated to the development of new products, assures us the achievement of standard processes, systems and procedures in all manufacturing units, to grant a single supply modality to the global market. This is certainly one of the three pillars of the Appliance division’s strategy, clearly in combination with unceasing innovation research in products and processes and the more and more massive operational flexibility.

What activities do the Italian headquarters manage?
M.B.: The headquarters define business growth and development strategies, they establish the transfer to the manufacturing sites of technologies and products developed coherently with the distinguishing know-how of Askoll and market requirements. Moreover, they take care of defining, managing and coordinating commercial strategies and the relations with primary customers. Moreover, they implement and assess processes, systems, procedures and behaviours that must be shared in all factories, to assure a single business style and the application of best practices inside the whole division.

What advantages can Askoll assure to household appliance manufacturers?
M.B.: In recent years, the Appliance market has notably changed. Prompt reactivity and flexibility have become a “must”, therefore we have decided modifying, coherently our organization, to satisfy our customers at best. The organizational structure of the Appliance division is based on two macro elements: Italian headquarters and standardized manufacturing factories located close to primary customers. We can maintain a direct lean operational management of customers, to develop a direct line with their production sites, but always in compliance with the strategies and methodologies provided by the Headquarters. We so reach the highest manufacturing efficiency, assuring high quality productive standards.

On what innovative solutions have you more focused recently?
M.B.: In the last five years, we have strongly emphasized the pump platform, in different configurations. We think that in this ambit, the development of a new BPM platform, with clear advantages in terms of silent operation and energy saving, will be our trump card for the next future.

What other recent innovations have you introduced on the market?
M.B.: Concerning the dryer platform, we have developed and we are taking care of the evolution, always in compliance with the philosophy of utmost efficiency and energy saving, of a series of products that we deem strategic for the future of Askoll. First of all, the BPM motor, in the new aluminium version, where we can reach the approximate 85% efficiency. In addition, we are accomplishing the developments of the new drain- condensate pump in “light” version, very aggressive in terms of price-performance ratio. Besides, with the aim of adding value to the drying system, we have designed a “Bi-Rotor” able to manage two different functions in a single motor (drum ventilation and rotation). Finally, regarding the sector of motors for washing machine, among the next designs in which Askoll is going to invest huge resources, it is worth mentioning the new motor with internal rotor in BPM version, with the goal of boosting our ranking in this important market segment, too.

Let us speak now of your manufacturing and commercial strategy. What are the main pillars on which it is based?
M.B.: Over thirty years ago, Askoll started an important expansion project of its manufacturing activities with the main target, still fundamental for us, of localizing our plants in strategic areas for both Askoll and for our customers. Our global standardized footprint has allowed us to support the household appliance market, even in the most critical pandemic phase, through a sound supply chain and the possibility of exploiting important synergies among the various production plants. This has allowed our organization to serve the market without generating criticalities in our customers’ production flows, even in presence of diffused lockdowns like those that characterized the whole 2020.

What are the future projects of Askoll?
A.B: Next years, the Group will go on investing massively in globalization, standardization and automation of manufacturing processes, to assure a high-profile supply to the market. It is worth highlighting that the simultaneous presence in various Countries in the world is strategic not only from the point of view of logistics and service quality/speed, but also for the possibility of stemming and controlling strategic determinant variables when we deal with international customers, such as, for instance, import and export duty, transport costs and exchange rate.

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