FLEXIBLE PACKAGING PRINTING
Vizelpas is a company producing flexible films for the production of flexible packaging. It was founded in 1996, since then it has grown and today combines competence and know-how with a controlled production process, from extrusion to shipment, providing efficient solutions through innovation and high-performance products.
The demand for continuous improvement has led Vizelpas to take the decision to implement MIS|ERP Sistrade® software, an integrated business management system for flexible packaging printing area that controls all the company's needs and manages all business and production processes in one system.
INTERVIEW Vizelpas - Magazine IG - Intergráficas [PDF Version]
SISTRADE HAS BEEN DEVELOPING INTERESTING SOLUTIONS FOR THIS SECTOR
With a turnover of 45 million euros, Vizelpas is the prime example of excellent management in packaging and flexible technical film production for the alimentary and medical-surgical industries. IG spoke with Modesto Araújo, founder and administrator on the present and future of Vizelpas and the importance of relying on management tools, such as Sistrade's software, when the strategy is focused on exporting and facing highly competitive markets.
HOW DID VIZELPAS ARISE AND WHEN DID IT FOCUS ON THE PACKAGING PRODUCTION AREA?
Vizelpas started its journey about 23 years ago. I worked for five years in the plastic industry, at Intraplas, as a quality technician. That company produced plastic cups and yogurt packaging. After 5 years, I decided to create my own business, manufacturing packaging for the textile industry, which was quite strong in that region. Later, the goal was to enter the food area, but this was a very complex and technical area that required a major investment. When I started this project, money was not plentiful and I began with only two or three thousand euros and resorted to bank financing, which allowed the company to grow. Vizelpas only entered the food sector in the fourth year of activity. In 2006 we acquired the first multi-layer machine, to produce packaging with EVOH - oxygen barrier. We were the first company in Portugal doing it. After that, we entered the medical field as well. Currently, the company has 200 employees and finished 2021 with a turnover around 45 million euros, which places us as a reference company in the sector.
AS A REFERENCE COMPANY IN THE SECTOR, VIZELPAS EXPORTS A LARGE PART OF ITS PRODUCTION...
Vizelplas exports to almost every continent, apart from Asia. We export to the US and several countries in Latin America, Europe and also some countries in Africa. Around 60 percent of our production is exported and 40 percent is sold in Portugal, of which 30 percent we avoid importing because our competitors are international companies and thus we contribute positively to the trade account. Vizelpas contributes between 80 and 90 percent in exporting to the trade account. Nowadays, Vizelpas works essentially for the food industry, approximately 70 to 80 percent, and 10 to 15 percent for the medical field. Our company has projects to continue its growth, as it has been happening every year, around two figures. We intend to continue on this path.
HAS VIZELPAS ALWAYS BEEN PRODUCING THE SAME KIND OF PRODUCTS?
Vizelpas has always been a highly innovative company, even in the textile industry. We were pioneers in several products that were launched in the market, we brought innovation to a traditional sector, we reduced the carbon footprint, and we are doing this for about twenty years. This was already our concern about 20 years ago. Most recently, six years ago, 80% of our products had a waste rate of 6%, of which 5% went to landfill because there was no possibility of recycling. Today, we have nearly 90% of our solutions recyclable for all sectors, meaning we have made great advances in all our packaging. Vizelpas is thus prepared to offer its clients 100 percent recyclable solutions, with high barrier and all the necessary mechanisms for the products to function and have the necessary lifetime.
WAS YOUR STRATEGY BASED ON NATURAL EVOLUTION...
This was a development of several years supported by technology centers, universities, and a lot of innovation shared between us and the petrochemical companies. Today, for instance, Vizelpas is a strategic development partner for several institutions, such as University of Minho, which invited us to be part of their strategic board. We are also a strategic partner of one of the major petrochemical company in the market. Even at fairs where this company is present, Vizelpas is displayed in their presentation flyers, which we are very proud of. We don't like to stand still. We are constantly looking for innovation, trying to offer improved solutions to customers, and that is our main focus in terms of business strategy.
VIZELPAS IMPLEMENTED SISTRADE'S SOFTWARE. WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THE COMPANY AND THE PROPOSED PRODUCT?
We knew Sistrade for some years and had some business partners that already had the Sistrade software. We were aware that these companies were satisfied, such as Monteiro Ribas, for example. At the time, we wanted a specific program dedicated to our industry and realized Sistrade was working on a program focused on packaging, so we decided to choose their program. We are continuously improving and this is a very interesting program that gives us the answers we need.
IS IT IMPORTANT FOR VIZELPAS THAT THE SISTRADE PROGRAM HAS A PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT AREA THAT ALLOWS CONTROLLING THE SHOP FLOOR?
Of course! These days, companies must have these controls done very rigorously and Sistrade has developed many interesting solutions for this sector.
SISTRADE'S COOPERATION WITH VIZELPAS AND VICE-VERSA, IS IMPORTANT TO DEVELOP AND ADJUST EVERYTHING YOU NEED?
Our company has an internal IT department that is continuously improving and has the knowledge of our needs. Sistrade is continuously supporting Vizelpas because, as we need to upgrade and improve, they are always there. This is how we work.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A SOFTWARE THAT LINKS MANAGEMENT TO PRODUCTION?
It would not be possible to operate at this moment, in the market, with a company that didn't have these tools... This is very important because the industry has been evolving and, if we don't have the tools to help, it becomes more difficult to do market research in strategic terms and even to define how we can do it. The program helps a lot and gives reports that enable us to define which products give the highest profitability and margins, etc. This is in fact essential.
HOW DOES VIZELPAS POSITION ITSELF IN THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MARKET?
Our major international strategy is essentially to attract new customers by making a difference with the products we are developing and innovating. Over the last few years we have developed new products which make a difference to what already exists. It is very difficult to sell to the USA, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, and the Nordics, because there are other companies equally good. Thus, attracting new customers involves offering innovative products, which we have been doing constantly.
VIZELPLAS' JOURNEY IS OFTEN REFERRED TO FOR ITS QUICK GROWTH AND THE QUALITY OF ITS PRODUCTS AND SERVICE...
This has been Vizelpas' greatest asset to find its place in the international market. Many times, when clients first visit us, they ask if it was my father or grandfather who founded the company, since they don't believe our structure and size was created in only 20 years. What they tell us is that this type of product requires a great evolution from companies, which takes more than 50 years to build. Besides experience, I believe Vizelpas' evolution is related to its market vision. In fact, our company has always been at the forefront of certain products, which requires a lot of attention to the market. That also involves traveling and seeing other markets. Before the pandemic I regularly attended an event about Global Economy in Texas, which gathers major investment banks and petrochemical companies, and I always "drank" information about economic growth, demographics, product trends, etc. Frequently, Portuguese businessmen prefer to stay in their offices rather than traveling the world to check what others are doing. This is a great help in order to know where we should go next.
IN WHICH WAYS CAN SISTRADE HELP VIZELPLAS TO ACHIEVE PROJECTS, SUCH AS THOSE COVERED BY THE SO-CALLED "BAZUCA"?
Since its foundation, Vizelpas has participated in 32 projects and has achieved almost 100 percent of success in all of them. We do not carry out projects just to "get money", but only if we need it. If a project that arises under the scope of "Bazuca" is interesting for Vizelpas, and may be "adding value" to our activity, then it will be welcome. If the purpose of the project is only to receive money and have some margin, we will not join. We are currently involved in four projects, one of them "designed" by me and called "Beta Plastic", directed to the plastics industry. Vizelpas is leading this project, alongside 25 other entities, including Sonae Group. I thought it was important to introduce an innovation in packaging, turning non-recycled packaging into recycled and eco-friendly packaging. This is a necessity and a concern in environmental and carbon footprint matters. Our focus is to always have a better product for the customer, and we have been doing it for twenty years. One of the first major projects Vizelpas developed, regarding sustainability, focused on the 80 and 90 micron bags used for garbage at beaches and hospitals, which are now 35 micron bags, supporting all the necessary requirements of resistance for this type of products. As a result, these bags are now used all over the country, representing a major step forward in terms of carbon footprint. This concern has always been reflected in our customer approach, since we want to know what the customer has and what needs to be improved. Doing more of the same is neither a solution, nor can the price be a determining factor.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION HAS BEEN ONE OF SISTRADE'S FLAGSHIPS. DO YOU THINK THIS THEME IS IMPORTANT FOR A COMPANY LIKE VIZELPAS? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THIS CONCEPT?
Digital transformation is a long-debated subject, but companies must definitely move in that direction. Vizelpas is increasingly moving towards digital transformation, adopting a range of measures that are being worked on. The new structure being built will give us a 100 percent intelligent factory, with a very low carbon footprint regarding sustainability and almost 100 percent of energy production for our production. At the current unit, several innovations have already been made in this area, and we want to do even more in the future.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SISTRADE AS A TECHNOLOGY PARTNER FOR COMPANIES LIKE YOURS?
Yes, we have been recommending this software to other companies that ask us about it.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS YEAR, REGARDING YOUR INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY?
The expectations are the same as always. We are focused on our goals, the business plan and everything has been going according to plan. Vizelpas has already been through three crises and this is the fourth, although this one is very different from the others.