I have a very clear image in my mind: Carnival Sunday, a small village all dressed up for the celebrations, the carts and a small child dressed in light-blue colour. He looks like a Smurf.
Carnival is celebrated everywhere in Italy – local traditions may vary slightly but the concept and the implementation are similar.
I don’t remember who showed me the pictures of that event, but I do remember that particular shot: it surprised me so much that I am still here today talking about it.
Imagine the carts decorated according to a theme, with children on them throwing confetti and paper streamers.
That picture was taken from below and it shows the Olympus cart parade: a big foam Zeus leaning forward surrounded by a sea of clouds that covered the side of the cart.
The children are excited. There’s Hermes with his little wings glued to a moped helmet, a small Dionysius with grapes coming down around his ears, and there’s a little girl with an arch, maybe the hunt goddess.
And there’s him, the child in a Smurf-blue suit.
He’s completely blue, he’s standing on the side of the cart and he has nothing to do with the others, he’s out of place, he’s on the wrong cart.
Or at least, so it seems at first glance.
Luckily, the photographer had the same thought as me and was captivated by his look, so much in fact that in the end he gave in and asked the child.
“I am the sky”, replied the child.
“And what is the name of the God of the sky?”
“I am not the God of the sky. I am the sky. Gods are in the sky, even Zeus – he is the God of all Gods and the God of the sky, but without the sky, even he would be nothing.”
Needless to say, I was surprised by this story, otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking about it.
But there is also another reason why I shared this story with you. I think that, in a way, it has something to do with the way we work.
I am talking about the One-Shot® Method, currently the world’s fastest method to produce car parts, which was patented by SAPA. I know that you have already heard about it. It is the only method that allows to produce car parts with:
Why I am saying that it has something in common with the story above?
When we decided to dedicate ourselves exclusively to the automotive sector, we knew that we would be dealing with giants, with long-standing businesses who were much bigger than us. Basically, the Gods of the Olympus.
For this reason, we decided to concentrate on something totally different, that would be our unique feature. A new way to do the usual things.
Clearly, this new way also had to bring results, so we could compete on the market.
This is how the idea of revolutionising the method came to be, instead of only acting on the results.
To be honest, the One-Shot® Method is something we generally apply to our way of working, not just to the machines.
Everything and nothing.
The One-Shot® Method rests on the belief that it is necessary to reduce the number of production phases and when the process is optimised, we can already talk about One-Shot®. But the objective, anyway, is to get to producing the part in just one shot. This has huge consequences:
But this is not all.
Since the focus is on the process, the idea is to act on certain product features, for example the weight, already in the designing phase.
Parts produced with the One-Shot® Method are lighter, therefor:
Do you think that I am exaggerating? Let me present them one by one.
One-Shot® Window Frame is the name we use for a plastic part that is hollowed out, generally with nitrogen. What we did was to obtain the same result with a thermoplastic cooling process, whose advantages are to save time and to produce lighter parts.
What are the positive consequences of this?
SAPA’s One-Shot® Window Frame is a patented system and in 2017 it was awarded among the 5 best patents at the Automotive TPO Conference organised by the Society of Plastics Engineers. It is already used by Volkswagen on the Arteon.
When it comes to the One-Shot® Bicolor A Pillar on the contrary, we started out based on the requirements of Jeep Renegade, which required a less oppressive cabin that was more focussed on the car safety. So, we patented a pillar where, using a single machine, two pieces of two different colours are joined, thus producing a more solid part, faster and deploying less manpower.
Here are the results:
The stories of the One-Shot® C Lower Pillar and of the One-Shot® Beauty Cover are similar: these are fundamental parts whose production processes were not updated in the past 20 years and which are very often still produced manually by many manufacturers.
When it came to the One-Shot® C Lower Pillar, we simplified the process that is traditionally carried out by specialised workers, that is to say the upholstering, and we got to produce 1,000 C Lower Pillars per day with 80 seconds cycle time (against 40 C Lower Pillars per day with 12 minutes cycle time in the traditional process!). By automating the entire process we were able to obtain:
Regarding the One-Shot® engine cover, what was innovative was creating a single mould whereas traditionally you need several.
I have decided to also give you a preview of the new One-Shot® part that we have been working on over the past months.
Like the other One-Shot® parts, it has innovative features especially with regard to the way that it is produced.
I am talking about the One-Shot® Aerodynamic Shield, the underbody shield, which was designed with the objective of making FIAT 500 and Panda more aerodynamic and reduce the friction.
In the typical One-Shot frame of mind, we have optimised the process and researched alternative solutions to the traditional process that would create shields with the following features: resistant to impact and temperature, compact and aerodynamic. And that would possibly reduce costs. The result was surprising even for us. We were able to develop all these aspects, and to bring about innovation, in true One-Shot® style. Here is how:
Working with a One-Shot® frame of mind means changing the very concept of a part and making it efficient from its designing phase.
In a way, it’s the same story of the child at Carnival: his originality lied in creating the perfect content for the event but in an utterly original form and implementation.
We believe that this is possible and, most of all, that this attitude can bring many advantages especially to the customer, but also to us, who dedicate daily commitment, efforts and passion to this job that we love.
Executive Director and Member of the Board of Directors at SAPA
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