Since 1987 Epedal S.A., which was founded in 1981 to supply the motorcycle industry, restructured itself to produce components for the automobile industry. Today, it has reached a remarkable size with 180 employees and 11,000 sq.m facility. "The initial choice immediately favoured the automation of the production processes to exploit the guaranteed quality level as well as the integration of the various machining processes" says José Alexio Santiago, General Manager of Epedal S.A. "We work tubes, wire and sheet and assemble them to complete components for the automotive industry, which in itself is competitive, but we are just as much. We work three shifts in order to meet our customer's requirements, even if it means during the holiday periods, and we have never lost an order" emphasises Mr. Santiago. "We handle over 10 million components per year with an export rate of 85% in Spain, France, the Czech and Slovak Republics. We are confident that we have followed the right path seeing that to date the growth in sales and turnover has brought its rewards by doubling in only four years. Our quality is often certified directly by our customers. In fact, we are VDA Volkswagen - A, as well as ISO 14001:2004-BVQI and ISO TS 16949:2002-BVQI certified".
The remarkable results achieved by Epedal in such a short time can be attributed to the considerable efforts made over the last three years with investments pivoting around 25% of the annual turnover made by the Portuguese company. And while Mr. Santiago shows us his shop floor, it is evident how these investments have been converted into production processes. A well-equipped moulding department with 15 presses, in-house tool shop producing moulds and samples, tube working and assembly shop with 21 welding robots that unequivocally "communicate" the considerable capacity to efficiently produce even the most complex component made with various tube, wire and flat sheet elements, mainly with absolute quality. The tube processing department consists of an ADIGE TS72 cutting machine with in-line end brushing and washing, two BLM E-TURN40 bending machines for right and left bending, a Dynam0 MR200 and a Dynam0 LR150. To work the tube ends, two BLM units have been installed consisting of an AST100NC with automatic loader and an AST25 to process small diameter tubes.
"All the machines installed in the tube processing department - says again Mr. Santiago - are configured as automated cells with fully automatic loading and unloading operations so that there is no need to have a dedicated operator. The advantages of having a modern and state-of-the art machine shop not only lie in the level of automation. In our case, the real flexibility that allows us to switch from one batch to another with the minimum amount of downtime is a definite advantage. Moreover, the guaranteed repeatability for batches that are getting smaller and smaller and distributed in the long-term prevents us from having waste and rejects. On the other hand, we must appeal to our customer and not make them feel that we are well over the western borders of Europe. To the contrary, in fact the competitive advantage that we can still boast about in terms of cost is combined with the high professional level of our personnel and technology", concludes Mr. Santiago. In the near future, Epedal is planning to expand to Gliwice, Poland with the implementation of a production facility of 2,000 sq.m in which the Portuguese know-how will help to grow further and to serve several customers.