Family businesses are different from other entrepreneurial companies because of the importance they place on their strategies and long-term development. In Romania, the family businesses started by the founders in the 90s are now in their second, even third generation. For all those who have embarked on this path, the keywords are the following ones: long-term development, sustainability, and resilience through innovation.

So we see in various fields of activity, from consumer goods to services, IT, food production, and even industrial production that innovation is the “secret ingredient” of the development of family business.

At Etanșări Grafex, innovation is appreciated by customers and produces results. That is why we want to share in this article the trends that guide us and their impact on the activity.

The four types of innovation

Sometimes innovative processes arise spontaneously in entrepreneurial companies due to the great decentralization and the way in which the team members are supported to make informed decisions, in real time. However, it is useful to briefly review the four types of innovation that exist, as follows:

1. Incremental innovation

This is one of the most common types of innovation. The company uses existing technologies in an existing market, and the goal of innovation is to improve an existing offering by adding new features, design changes, etc.

2. Disruptive innovation

This type of innovation is largely associated with the application of disruptive technologies, processes, or business models in existing industries. Sometimes new technologies and business models seem, especially at the beginning, inferior to existing solutions, but after a few iterations, they go beyond existing models and take over the market due to the advantages of efficiency and / or effectiveness.

3. Architectural innovation

This type of innovation is what we see with the tech giants like Amazon, Google and many others right now. They take their expertise, technology and skills and apply them to another market. In this way they can open new markets and expand their customer base.

4. Radical innovation

Even though this is the stereotype applied by many people to innovation, radical innovation is the rarest form of all. Radical innovation involves the creation of technologies, services and business models that open up completely new markets.

Trends in industrial innovation

Innovation is essential for the survival of many companies and industries. Five trends now mark innovation in industrial production. At Etanșări Grafex most of these trends are present and generate results.

1. Cobots

Robots have been part of the production environment for many years. But as automation has grown, new approaches and technologies have emerged that can take its benefits further. Collaborative robots, or cobots, that work with humans instead of replacing them, usually automate fewer processes simultaneously. As a result, they are often more accessible than traditional automation and easier to implement.

2. IoT Sensors

Another area of ​​innovation results from the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. Although these technologies are not a production-specific phenomenon, they already have considerable potential in this. For example, predictive maintenance improves traditional maintenance programs by avoiding both malfunctions and unnecessary repairs. in itself, but also reduces failures by an average of 70%. In industrial production, IoT sensors can also be used to collect data throughout the production flow. This data can reveal areas for potential for improvement, allowing for continuous optimization.

3. 5G Technology

Like IoT, 5G is not strictly a production technology, but it has impressive potential here. Higher bandwidth, increased speeds and lower latency will allow smart production to reach maximum productivity. 5G networks will theoretically be able to support up to one million devices per square kilometer, ten times more than 4G technology. With all these machines connected, manufacturers will be able to create cohesive autonomous environments. This will lead to a higher ROI for these significant investments.

4. Immersive Technology

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays relevant information on a machine part to guide the operator to identify and fix problems. AR has the ability to render 3D images of machines and parts in real proportion. This allows operators to be trained in step-by-step visual images of how to repair and maintain equipment. Immersive technology also allows skilled workers to perform maintenance at a distance, reducing the skill gap inside factories.

5. Portable Devices

Highly skilled labor is an important asset of manufacturing companies. Therefore, coordinating employee activity is an inevitable aspect of optimizing productivity. Devices such as smart watches, smart bands, and headphones provide essential data quickly and discreetly. These devices improve employee safety. In addition, AR helmets combine real images with virtual information overlays needed to train employees in the factory workplace.

Innovation in action at Etanșări Grafex

This is exactly the case with innovation at Etanșări Grafex. The company that produces seals for industries with extremely strict technological standards – the chemical, nuclear, pharmaceutical, oil and gas industries – is a family business that has evolved year after year. With only 3 people in the team at the founding, in 1996, the company reached in 2022 more than 60 employees and businesses of almost 2 million euros.

The most important innovations made at Etanșări Grafex are the following:

1. STIE procedures hologram glasses

A program that involves drawing up detailed work instructions applicable to special removable joints using portable devices. Hololens smart glasses are devices with which performers can work simply and efficiently based on an audiovisual hologram.

2. Virtual Reality training

These are innovative Virtual Reality training services, in accordance with Standards EN1591-4: 2014 and ASME PCC-1-2013. Through these programs, participants can correctly acquire the skills needed to disassemble, assemble, secure, and secure a joint that can operate without leaks.

3. Application for remote operator guidance

Through this application the operator receives on-site work instructions through Augmented Reality and has instant access to the necessary procedures to perform field operations. In the same application a clear record of all the interventions performed can be kept.

4. Products and services for real-time monitoring of flange joints

With the help of Grafex products and application, stud loads for certain critical equipment can be checked at any time, and from any distance. Limits of the monitored parameters can be set, beyond which notifications are sent to the responsible staff (on mobile phone, PC or other devices).

In conclusion

These innovations are not the only ones that help the development of the company, but they are among the most notable. With their help, industrial production shows that it is adapting to the current economic environment, especially in the context of the difficulties created by the galloping energy costs and the dysfunctions in the supply chains. Innovations like this improve efficiency, minimize errors, optimize operations and more. At Grafex Seals, we decided to develop and capitalize on their potential to ensure our success now and in the future, as well as resilience and sustainability.