Established in Suzzara (Mantova), Italy, the family-owned business Intertraco adheres to the principle that a good supplier contributes to its customers’ success by offering the highest level of expertise in its own products. Following this principle, Intertraco’s goal is to work closely with its partners to provide them with a comprehensive range of fully tested products that can be trusted to respond to the most varied and complex requirements and demands of the market. Hose + Coupling World recently caught up with CEO, Mr. Stefano Bertazzoni to talk about the company’s resounding success story and its plans for the future.
By John Butterfield
Founded in 1979, Intertraco began its business by producing a range of components for mechanical and hydraulic power transmission. In the 1980s, however, the company refocused its commercial activities to give it a more specialist approach to producing hydraulic connectors. At first, this involved making couplings for customer designs for some of the ‘big names’ in the industry. It was not long before Intertraco went on to design and develop its own ‘fluid connector’ components for conveying fluid under pressure: fittings for flexible hoses, quick release couplings, adaptors, swivel joints, and valves. It has subsequently integrated these components with a complete line of compatible hoses. Mr. Bertazzoni takes up the story: “This evolvement occurred very naturally for us. Setting out to work for the big-name companies and producing their designs was initially not an easy task for us because these companies were demanding. Yet these relationships taught us the importance of not only being able to deliver quickly but also to an impeccable quality. These were abilities that we took forward with us in our business when we started to produce our own designs.”
Since 2000, Intertraco has continued to invest in cutting-edge technology to ensure that its products maintain performance, reliability, and quality; characteristics that are essential to today’s hydraulic customer. Equally strongly, the company has recognized the need to work in partnership with its customers in order to clearly understand their needs and requirement, which in turn leads to production efficiency, stability, and customer satisfaction.
Today, the company works with a worldwide customer base, though its key markets remain in Europe, North America, and Australia. With the introduction of new designs and standards that provide international conformance and compatibility, it also produces fully compatible hydraulic hose and fitting systems in different styles and terminations. Hoses range in size from 1/8” one wire braid to 3” 6-spiral. Couplings are available in both one- and two-piece styles in standard carbon and stainless steel. The assembling can be carried out in both external/internal skiving or as total no-skive depending on customer preference. An added advantage of its components is that regardless of the material in which they are produced, they are manufactured in the same sizes, making it possible for customers to transfer from one material to the other very easily, should they wish to do so.
“Our strong technical capabilities and product innovation has increased our market competitiveness and has allowed us to offer customers extremely reliable solutions and outstanding professional services in both the fields of product purchases and after-market services. Our continued investment in both research and development in new production techniques, together with a long-term commitment to customers and employees have provided us with the base for the successful development of the Intertraco group as a whole,” stated Mr. Bertazzoni.
“When it comes to our market approach,” explained Mr. Bertazzoni “we are a medium-sized Italian company that currently employs roughly 200 people. Our sales are in the region of 100 million euros per year.”
Intertraco endeavours to fill a space in the market somewhere between the smaller companies and the big multinationals, offering a broad range of products and worldwide support to its customers. Although the company’s manufacturing takes place in Italy, Intertraco sees that equipment is assembled in a number of locations – namely Germany, Finland, Sweden, and North America.
“Although we supply to the whole world, Intertraco’s target markets are to be found in Europe, North America, and Australia,” says Mr Bertazzoni “with our clients working largely within the earth moving, mobile, mining, industrial machinery, and highpressure applications.
What also differs Intertraco in the marketplace is that it works to establish a direct and long-term relationship with a relatively limited number of key customers whose well-being it regards as being central. As such, its relationships with its clients can probably best be described more in terms of partnerships rather than a supplier/user relationship.
The company’s customers can roughly be divided into two main categories: Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and a number of defined, and selected distributors who, in their own right, carry out business with regional OEMs, sub-distributors, and for after-market sales. “We have a great respect for our customers, never trying to invade into their market areas,” continued Mr. Bertazzoni. “We believe that by working closely together and by sharing technical, market, and commercial knowledge we can provide better solutions to customers. Taking responsibility for the effectiveness of the supply chain as well, also helps to support our name and our brand.” For example, staff from Intertraco might visit a client with their assembler who knows the local market well and together this enables them to identify how to better structure and implement effective working solutions to gain business that separately they might not be able to achieve.
“Our specialised production lines are all closely coordinated within our own production plants,“ explained Mr. Bertazzoni. “Intertraco offers the market a complete range of premium hydraulic components for conveying and controlling hydraulic fluid along with the capability to supply bespoke products for any customer requirements or tailored drawings.” In fact, the company’s fully integrated packages of products are produced to the finest quality. It is something that it takes specific pride in. Furthermore, the company’s range of products are designed to provide product excellence in the first place, but also very highperformance levels when assembled and put into use. “Our range is also designed to be easily understood by customers. We do not produce multiple ranges of couplings, only three. As such the range is not only user-friendly but is also very comprehensive.
When it comes to Intertraco’s production sites, ‘state-of-the-art manufacturing’ are the key words to describe the company’s capabilities. All the company’s modern and automated manufacturing processes are implemented according to the most advanced industry 4.0 best practices and are supported by strict quality control procedures, which allow the complete traceability of products at all stages of their lifecycles. Company products are also designed with advanced finite element methodologies (FEM) and mathematical models targeting performances by calculation that exceed the most severe international and industry standards. All project data is tested and validated in the company’s laboratories by its very experienced R&D team. All hose and fittings combinations, for example, are extensively tested to ensure that a perfectly matched system is produced, and their validation is certified by DNV, ABS, MED, and USCG.
The substantial investments that Intertraco has made in recent years in its state-of-the-art machinery has ensured that it can quickly adapt to meet any application needs or customer requirements. “Moreover”, said Mr. Bertazzoni “we believe that the quality of the machines that we use is directly related to the quality of the individual components that we produce. All our production activities and development programs are managed to the highest and most exacting standards.”
The care given to the research and development of new products and processes has allowed Intertraco to grow into an ideal partner in the continual evolution of hydraulic components. Its commitment towards quality, not only concerns the various levels of selection of materials and controls taking place in the various stages of production (design, testing, production, logistics), but also in the full traceability of components ranging from raw materials right through to final products deliveries.
The company has three production sites, one research and development centre, a modern and competent technical department, and a large distribution logistic unit, making it a major force in the hydraulics industry and providing its customers with the feeling that they can be really relied upon. “We are a trustworthy and reliable company throughout all phases of our production but particularly with regards to how our designs are able to anticipate performance. We also understand the logistics process very well, enabling us to delivery according to timely schedules.”
For the future, Intertraco will continue to remain a specialist in the segments in which it currently operating. “We do not to want to grow for the purpose of growing. We want to keep ahead in our business fields and continue to invest in state-ofthe- art technology,” relayed Mr. Bertazzoni. “We also want to keep to a size where we can continue to work as a partner with our customers, understanding their needs and complementing their businesses to make them more successful. In this respect we will continue to support our customers by providing them with complete product package and comprehensive solutions the challenges that they face. If we cannot become the biggest company in the world, we want to strive to be the best in our customers’ eyes.