Exemplifying specialised automotive manufacturing
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Thomas Arnold
On 1 January 2007, EU-25 became EU-27 as Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union. With the establishment of key trade partnerships having been a key motivation in its founding, one of the staple benefits of EU membership is the European single market, renowned as the largest single market in the world.
Offering the removal of trade barriers between countries, Romanian industry has benefitted greatly from greater transparency, efficiency, and ultimately reduced costs in the 13 years that it has been a member – benefits that have been particularly evident within the country’s manufacturing industry, as Andrei Sardi, CEO of global seat cover specialist Coindu Romania explains.
“With Romania becoming a full member of the European Union in 2007, for Coindu and its partners the whole import-export process became dramatically simplified and business started boosting,” he says.
In the wake of this, Coindu Romania was clearly able to capitalise on the European market.
By 2017, the Company’s turnover reached almost €100 million, up from the €5 million recorded in 2006, whilst employee growth also erupted, rising from 100 in 2005, to 500 in 2010, to more than 2,000 in 2016.
Rising to the top
Founded in 2004, borne as a division of the Coindu Group headquartered in Portugal, Coindu Romania has markedly come a long way in the 14 years since its inception.
Starting out as a regional satellite division of the Group, developing fabric seat covers for the Chyrsler Minivan, Coindu Romania has since surged in status, now serving a significant number of the world’s most renowned automotive brands.
“Having begun life as a low-cost manufacturing unit of the Coindu Group 14 years ago, we are now a financially autonomous company, managing all our internal processes whilst also benefitting from the synergies offered as being part of an international group,” Bogdan Stoian, CFO Eastern Europe Coindu Romania, reveals.
“No success came overnight, but we’ve gradually become known and appreciated for the proactive relationship we have with our customers and suppliers and our high-speed reaction times, and we are proud to say that we have produced for almost all of Europe’s major car manufacturers.”
Established relations and new horizons
Stoian admits that Coindu Romania’s growth has to date largely been facilitated by the relationships that it has built with its clients; ties that have blossomed as a result of the Company’s ability to consistently provide a high-quality service and product.
He explains: “Our constant growth over the last 12 years was only possible thanks to good quality, on-time delivery and competitive price models. Our customers have placed their trust in our hard work by constantly nominating us for new business.
“Even in times when simultaneous launches of two or three new projects have made our punctual deliveries challenging, our long-established relationships with our customers has provided the opportunity for openness and has helped us find new solutions to keep things running smoothly.”
Having conquered parts of the automotive industry, establishing itself as a key global supplier of seat covers within the light vehicle markets, Coindu Romania is now looking to expand its portfolio, diversifying with a broader range of vehicle products.
“We have recently entered in the truck business with a couple of new programmes as a very attractive addition to our traditional light vehicle business,” Sardi reveals.
“Having acquired a majority stake in German leather manufacturer Hewa and the recent expansion of the firm’s production capabilities, Coindu Group is now in the position to deliver complete products for the seat cover industry, from the design to the production of complete leather seat covers.”
Additionally, the Company is also readily exploring the potential of offering its expertise outside of the automotive industry altogether. Stoian continues: “With the recent acquisition of Reila Romania in 2018, Coindu Romania expanded its business portfolio to non-automotive customers using leather components in various applications, from the optical industry to food processing.
“Further, we are analysing the possibilities of expanding the Coindu Group’s operations in the fashion business in Portugal by adding products in one of the satellites in Romania, and are also analysing alternatives to better utilise the leather rests generated from our cutting process – something that will undoubtedly become a saving for our customers.”
A drive to excel
Coindu’s ability to explore new markets is largely driven by its willingness to adapt, something that is clear in its continual investment in new technologies.
With the world’s first sewing machine having been invented in 1790, courtesy of Thomas Saint, industry technology is progressing more quickly now than ever before – something that Coindu is aware of and looks to utilise to remain as competitive as possible.
“Our equipment has changed over the years, giving us more flexibility in changing the models,” Sardi states. “We have always followed closely the sewing technology evolution and have quickly and consistently incorporated new sewing machine concepts in our processes.
“The same approach can be seen in the development of cutting technology. Meanwhile, our information technology has upgraded to keep the pace with the higher volumes of data transferred between us and our customers, and our ERP is adapting to the higher flexibility required nowadays.”
Recent examples of these investments include Coindu Romania replacing its former mechanical leather-cutting machines with state-of-the-art equipment. Featuring automated laser cutting technology with self-learning abilities, these machines are better-able to identify imperfections on the surface of the leather such as scratches and holes.
Further, the firm has also bought into new Kanban concepts, helping to optimise its material flow and stocks, whilst also implementing systems applications product throughout all its processes, offering improved data accuracy that is used to better inform the firm’s key decision-making procedures.
“We are improving our presence and awareness in the Curtici/Arad communities in Romania to correctly reflect our transformation as an agile, responsive and committed supplier to some of the world’s largest automotive and non-automotive companies,” Stoian adds.
Pursuing of a vision
This continual emphasis on progression is also reflected in the Company’s supply chain management strategy, with Coindu Romania having recently reworked its supplier management requirements to ensure that it retains the highest standards throughout all of its production procedures.
“We have moved from a Group exclusive carrier to a more flexible and cost-effective mix of Group suppliers and local transportation companies,” Sardi explains. “We are very happy with the current results, that have increased our on-time deliveries and have had a positive impact on our finances as well.
“Depending on our short-term needs, we have developed strong relations with Romanian and other Eastern European logistics hubs, optimising thus our warehousing needs.”
For Coindu Romania, standing still is not an option and such initiatives are all in aid of one long term goal for the Company.
Sardi explains: “Our intention is to be the supplier of choice for all our customers.
“We want to be the best supplier, not the cheapest – and we do it with acquisition of state-of-the-art technologies in our field, with implementation of the latest standards in lean manufacturing, with diversification of our portfolios (for both customers and product diversity) and with expansion plans in Romania and Eastern Europe,” Stoian adds.
A people’s company
From a national perspective, Coindu benefits greatly from its location in the vicinity of Arad – considered to be one of the main industrial poles in Western Romania.
One such advantage is the consistent pool of skilled workers that is available to the Company.
“Together with Coindu, there is a large number of well-known international automotive companies present in our area: Takata (now Joyson), Leoni, Webasto, Continental, Kromberg&Schubert, Yazaki, to name just a few of them – all with more than 10 years of continuous presence in Arad county,” says Sardi.
“Therefore, finding skilled employees is relatively easy – from production, engineering, maintenance, quality to finance and HR.”
Recognising that his Company is privileged to be in such a situation, Sardi ensures that Coindu Romania helps contribute to the maintenance of this talent pool, working with the local community and promoting industry education and its development.
Stoian concludes: “Understanding the difficulties that young generations are facing all over Europe to obtain a good job after school/university ends, we are actively supporting local technical schools and universities with both equipment, allowing the beneficiaries to use the latest technologies in their laboratories, and financial aids for eminent students.
“Ultimately, we hope to offer young people the opportunity to join Coindu Romania as full-time employees after graduation or in probation periods such as summer jobs or practical activities.
“Despite all the advanced technologies that we keep implementing, Coindu Romania remains a people’s company and we will keep relying on our talented and dedicated labour force to continue writing our success story.”