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Check if the components of your car’s interior fit-out have a Simoldes Plasticos logo. If so you are lucky because this label guarantees top notch quality.

The company is well established in Portugal, Brazil and France and enjoys recognition among the automotive brands such as: Porsche, Toyota, Peugeot, Citroen, Volkswagen and Skoda. Simoldes Plasticos has been present in Poland since 2004, its headquarters located in Jelcz-Laskowice near Wrocław, Lower Silesia.

Injection Technology Comes to Poland

Simoldes Plasticos, which nowadays enjoys the status of the largest mould manufacturer in Europe, was set up as Simoldes Aços on 30th November 1959. For the first 25 years the business specialised in mould processing and after that it continued operating in yet another strategic direction. The vibrant Injection Division joined the already mentioned Mould Division. In 2004, when the EU started admitting new members, automotive industry entered the area of Central and Eastern Europe and the Simoldes Plasticos management followed in their footsteps. They placed their new branch in Poland and over time it proved a perfect choice. Strategically located between East and West, the country offered enormous potential in terms of economy. The recent global crisis further confirmed the resilience of the Polish financial system. Simoldes Plasticos entered Poland in 2003. Initially, in order to check if the Polish market is worth giving a go, the company registered its office in Warsaw. The business put down roots here a year later when they launched an investment in Jelcz-Laskowice near Wrocław. No one expected it would soon develop into a factory which employs more than 300 people. There were some teething troubles of course but the business came to grips with it by 2006. That year the company turned over a new leaf with a comprehensive management reform which soon turned out to be a landmark for the whole Simoldes Group. Integrated corporate procedures were at once introduced at all the plants in Portugal, Brazil, France and Poland. These rules relied heavily on 5S formula which was created by Japanese managers and whose elements included: sorting, setting in order, shining, standardising and sustaining discipline. This made it possible to facilitate the cooperation between the branches which were finally made into a network. As Mr. Rui Tavares, A Plant Manager in Jelcz-Laskowice, says: “We share the same vision, the same strategy and conform to the same standards. As a team we are able to achieve more than ever before.”

Model Management

From the strategic point of view it was the Continuous Improvement Process that mostly contributed to the success of Simoldes. “We want to get better every day,” says Mr. Tavares, “This motto will give you a picture of what our business is all about.” The CIP blueprint is put into practice in many ways, a few of which to be found below. There are key performance indicators together with Bulletin Board System which allows administrative officers to share their computer data via common network. The business carries on seeking for new friendly technologies and innovative materials. With a view to quality improvement the company has launched Quality Function Deployment System which gives boost to cost management and facilitated lead-time reduction. This scheme also allows to cut back on common materials and reduce contingent dangers. At Simoldes Plasticos they take pride in their Project System which has accelerated the pace of investment and rationalised its costs. Consequently, every undertaking to be given a try is thoroughly appraised in terms of money involved, alternative solutions and potential return. Last but not least, it should me remarked that separate improvement teams focus on internal project portfolio management, stock reduction, productivity and material cost saving.

Trust and commitment

The Simoldes Plasticos mission has been defined as follows: “To be preferred choice for our customers, employees and suppliers, to contribute to a sustainable growth and satisfy our shareholders.” For this reason all the advanced management tools have been created with the aim of customer satisfaction. At Simoldes Plasticos they know how to meet the demand of their clientele and take proper care of production and services quality. Hence their corporate motto: “Deliver our commitments and trust in each other.” It goes without saying that the company attaches great importance to prospective profit. Nonetheless, as they hold to the principles of integrity, reliability and sustainability, they also set store by the ways of money making. The company tends to foresee market trends as well as potential trouble. Their managers are aware of the fact that it is always better to anticipate and avert problems rather than to solve them. For that matter the Simoldes strategy is prepared for at least 4 years in advance, which allows to steer away from undesired difficulties. Mr. Tavares sums it up as follows: “We require that our workers are proactive, resolved and flexible. Our staff makes it sure that the quality of products and services delivered reflects these criteria.

Top of the Range Manufactures

Simoldes Plasticos can be surely counted among those who broke new ground in terms of injected moulds for automotive industry. Their plants in Portugal, Brazil, France and Poland prove able to meet the global demand of these goods. Since 2000 the business has kept increasing annual turnover which is nowadays reaching figures around 260 mln EUR. Hence the decision to expand further and create a branch in Poland, which specialises in turning out interior trims, trunk trims, door panels, wheel arch liners and front-end carriers. The last of these are particularly popular, which has so far brought sales of 9 mln EUR a year and promises dynamic growth in the years to come. The majority of products manufactured in Jelcz-Laskowice is exported to the Central and Eastern European countries such as Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic, the rest is marketed in Poland. The reliability of the manufactures has been further confirmed by the fact that this plant has won numerous prizes and been granted quality certificates such as ISO 9001, QS 9000, ISO TS 16949. In the near future this list will be appended by yet another, namely ISO 14000 awarded to those businesses which are keen to preserve the environment.

Proactive and Motivated

A leader in the Polish mould industry, Simoldes Plasticos has so far created more than 300 jobs. As Mr. Tavares stresses: “Our staff in encouraged to actively participate in the daily life of our company. We require that our future should be kept in mind by our workers.” This principle is put into practice in many ways. Firstly, the company has come up with and applied the idea of a suggestion system which, being employee oriented, gives the staff an opportunity to put forward independent thoughts and then play a conscious part in the decision making process. Thus, they take action the way the experts would, identifying the problem and then implementing solutions. The management lends support to their efforts, which results in the levels of morale and motivation being increased. Secondly, for the benefit of the workers and the plant alike a number of interdisciplinary improvement teams have been set up. The business keeps investing heavily in training programmes for the staff who are thus enabled to broaden their technical expertise and acquire soft skills necessary for cooperating with others. As Mr. Tavares puts it: “We believe very strongly that the funds spent on professional training pay off rather quickly. That is why in 2009 and 2010 we are going to put 1,900,000 PLN for that. As much as 60% of this figure is subsidised by the EU. The people we welcome onboard are given a chance to develop as the company develops. For that matter we tend to hire the young and talented whose initiative and potential we might put to use in the future. The onus on the management is to make the most of these rich human resources.

Challenges Faced so Far

The Polish branch of Simoldes Plasticos may prove a perfect example of how successfully and properly do business in Poland. Nonetheless, the company was not always that prosperous. The major challenge the business has faced so far arose at the very beginning of its activity. In the area there were virtually no other companies from the same industry to tie bonds with . There were no people either whose skills would make it possible to employ them without necessary training. The factory had to educate staff at first. They carried it off thanks to the support of the mother company from Portugal who secured a series of interior and exterior training sessions. The hard times came also in the years 2006-2007. This turbulent period meant cut-throat competition for workers who then massively migrated to Ireland and the UK. This brought about employment turnover and consequently the increase in the costs of labour. Since the recent financial crisis has made labour available again on the market, the business has managed to rise to all this challenge too. People who then decided to stay onboard may now enjoy the double benefit of good pay and a work-life balance oriented career. This is how Simoldes Plasticos envisage their HR policy for the years to come.

Written by Bartosz Sowiński

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