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AI caught up again with Ali Reza Arabnia, president and CEO of Geico S.p.A


The Italian automotive paint specialist Geico S.p.A, recently announced that as part of its efforts to go green, it is launching a self-sufficient paint-shop by 16th June 2020. The company says that paint-shops consume around 70 per cent of electrical energy and 80 per cent of heat energy necessary for vehicle production. Painting a vehicle body produces about 235 kg of CO2, and this is only when considering electric/heating and refrigeration consumptions. Also, the energy consumption of a paint-shop of 300,000 job/year is about 250 GWh. This is the same amount needed by a city of 50,000 inhabitants.

The self-sufficient paint-shop aims at cutting the energy used in regular paint shops using the kaizen approach, that is by small but steady steps towards the goal. This project is being undertaken by Geico’s Pardis division which is dedicated to finding more eco-friendly and energy-smart solutions. The company has supplied top-notch car manufacturers around the world with complete automated paint plants for nearly half a century. The energy-saving paint-shop project comes at a time when Europe is moving towards an energy saving policy by launching its 20-20-20 Directive which aims at a 20 per cent reduction of energy consumption, CO2 emissions and a 20 per cent production of energy from renewable sources.

Geico originates from the Italian branch Carrier-Drysys, the pioneer (established in 1905) and at its time the largest multinational company specialized in original coating plants for vehicle industry. In 1976, Giuseppe Neri, an expert in system engineering for the vehicle coating process and managing director of Drysys Equipment Italiana of Carrier-Drysys Group, made a management buy-out operation and the new company was called Geico S.p.A. Increasing globalization pushed Geico to join the Comau Group in 1997.

Over the next few years, the challenge for Geico was to position itself as a supplier of complete paint plants. 2006 benchmarked Geico’s history. Geico secured the exclusive use of Haden and Drysys’s intellectual properties, patents and trademarks, and two years later, in 2008, it became the sole owner in the world. Geico’s verticalization of technologies was accompanied by a switch from a Latin/Mediterranean perspective to an international one, with the foundation of “allGeicoproject”, a global network of direct branches and strategic partnerships, which guarantees its geographical presence and increases projects capabilities. In 3 years from its birth, “allGeicoproject”, with thirteen corporate members employing more than 1,200 employees, out of whom 500 engineers, has doubled its annual revenues to above 350 million euro.

“Geico is a strong innovation-oriented business constantly integrating new technologies and methods. This is why Geico paint plants are extremely reliable, flexible, and attuned to the customer’s budget and needs. Having been in this business for nearly fifty years, Geico has a profound knowledge of total coating processes and all the associated complexities. The experience gathered enables Geico to manage projects of any size and complexity effectively, quickly and with great responsibility. Geico completes its solution with training and up-grading program for the staff,” says the company.

GEICO prides itself on having developed solutions suitable for every kind of process, body and production capacity with the best available technologies in order to ensure an up-to-date protection against corrosion. GEICO proprietary systems ensure an innovative approach in terms of final quality achievement, clean environmental policy and low consumptions.

Automotive Industries caught up again with Ali Reza Arabnia, president and CEO of Geico S.p.A.

AI: Tell us a little about the new developments in the design and installation of new turnkey paint plants?

The main challenge has become the lead time. The actual industry’s dynamics create objective problems for the vehicle producers to be firm in their strategies on the new investments. But once they make a decision on a new paint shop, they want it as yesterday. This is a new opportunity that challenges us to redefine our supply chain processes as well as redesign of parts of the plant.

AI: What are the advantages of modernizing existing paint plants such as Fiat’s Mirafiori plant? Please tell us a little about the renovation at this plant.

This was due to another challenge before us in the future; that is respect for the environment. The Mirafiori plant was to be modified for water-born application to reduce drastically the hazardous emissions to the new European regulations.

AI: Do you think Fiat’s renovation at Mirafiori and the upgrading of its existing facilities is good business strategy taking into account the current economic situation where companies are looking to cut costs?

I believe investments with relatively short payback period such as that of Mirafiori not only are harmless to cost control, they are great contributors to the process. Another incredibly important reason was the quality that has become an ever growing “obsession” in Fiat; as a result the modification of Mirafiori.

AI: Tell us a little about the new customer wins such as the JML Miracle win of the Ford contract and the Genix and VW India contract.

These together with other success stories, such as that of our partner in Brazil, Falcare, are our pride in having created allGeicoproject in 2006. We, as an international team of Geico, have been able to win so many projects that doubled our annual turnover to more than 350 million Euros in only three years. We want to believe that it has been possible thanks to our true attention and effective listening to our customers worldwide.

AI: What kind of growth is Asia witnessing in original coating plants for the automotive industry?

Simply amazing! What has happened in India and China for the last three years is phenomenal. The particular characteristic of the Asian Vehicle Producers is that they are most of the time the licensees of some European, American, or Japanese car producers, they remain independent in their investment decisions. This makes them autonomous and not conditioned by any headquarters’ indecisive periods such as the one we are living now. We in Geico believe very much in these markets’ actual and future performances.

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