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Lowara: success through design

Based in Montecchio Maggiore near Vicenza in Italy, Lowara has been serving customers and users of hydraulic pumps in various sectors for 40 years. We met Giuliano Matteazzi, Operations Director for Xylem AWS EMEA, and asked him about design, success and the future.

The Lowara manufacturing site was founded in 1968, with the objective of serving the global market as a centre of excellence in engineering products related to water management. Over the years the site has been expanded a number of times in order to provide up-to-date facilities and services. The company was acquired by Goulds Pumps in 1985, which in turn became part of ITT Industries in 1997. Lowara has been part of Xylem Inc. since it was spun off from ITT in 2011.

There are 547 employees at the 40,000 m² facility in Montecchio Maggiore. The Lowara team is engaged in research and development, manufacturing, global product management and customer service. Additional functions and focuses include quality management, Lean Six Sigma, innovation and engineering, advanced technology partnerships, finance, communications, sourcing, planning and logistics, and IT.

Wide range of products

In terms of manufacturing, the factory is involved in a wide range of pump types. “As one of the main design centres for global manufacturing, Lowara takes care of all phases relating to the production of new products, from R&D to manufacturing and after-sales service,” explains Giuliano Matteazzi. “These products include pressure booster sets, circulators, drainage pumps, centrifugal pumps for commercial and residential applications, borehole pumps and motors for pumps. Several new product development projects were kicked off in 2013, and some of them have now been completed thanks to our staff’s engagement and commitment to collaboration across departments.”

Giuliano Matteazzi mentions some highlights: “In particular, the latest projects have been the Lowara e-HM and Lowara VM multistage pump ranges, which can perform in many configurations, meeting the specific needs of a range of applications such as water supply and pressure boosting through to heating, ventilation and air conditioning; the Lowara ecocirc XL and XLplus, large wet rotor circulator ranges designed specifically for applications like heating systems, cooling systems, domestic hot water systems, solar systems and geothermal systems; and then we have the global water platform, with end-suction and in-line centrifugal pump ranges.”

Factors for success

Clearly, operations at Montecchio Maggiore are going well. It is only natural to ask Giuliano what he feels is helping to make it a success.

“The factors of success in Lowara are the company’s inner capabilities,” he enthuses. “We have advanced technology partnerships, such as the one involved in the deployment of business software. Our manufacturing process engineering is second to none. We are able to use advanced stainless-steel technology in our products, as well as cutting-edge motor technology. Lowara also benefits from superb expertise in electronics, lean competences supported and deployed by a specific team, and of course excellence in customer service.”

“The products we produce at this facility serve five markets,” elaborates Giuliano. “These are industry, commercial building services, irrigation and agriculture, applications within municipalities, and residential building services.”

Quality management is, of course, a vital aspect of all work at Lowara, as Giuliano explains: “Lowara is a certified centre of excellence for product development. We have a dedicated department taking care of the quality control and auditing internally, supporting both R&D and the customer.” Lowara is certified in accordance with UNI EN ISO 9001:2008.

Product development

“Lowara’s facility in Montecchio Maggiore is the Xylem Applied Water System’s global centre of excellence for product innovation and development,” states Giuliano with justifiable pride.

“Lowara has a consolidated lean competence developed over the last ten years deployed across all functional areas, and a strong process and customer-oriented organisation. In the facility, a team with strong competences are deployed to support all the connected EU sites, such as those in Austria, Hungary and Poland.”

Success breeds success, and Lowara cannot be accused of resting on its laurels. Giuliano explains: “As a leading manufacturer of pumps and pumping equipment, Lowara is adding to its product range by launching series aimed at the building services market and compliant with the upcoming 2015 regulations. The development of new products is vital to Lowara, and some of these new products relate to the upcoming 2015 regulations, enhancing innovation and energy efficiency.”

Striking office building

Arriving at the site in Montecchio Maggiore, visitors cannot fail to be impressed by the architecture of the main office building. Completed in 1985 and considered a state-of-the-art contemporary industrial building, it was created by the prize-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, better known for the Pompidou Centre in Paris, The Shard in London and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, among others. Piano worked closely with the Lowara management to create these new offices, the result being 4,000 square metres of open-plan office space – with no partitions, but rather a wide-open space where office staff and management work together. The building’s façade, which is 150 metres long, has an expanse of windows on the front side, adding to the airy feel, and faces the manufacturing site on the other.

“The roof design recalls to mind a sail which, ideally, catches the wind and drives the ship forward. There is a clear analogy with the goal of the company to push ahead to meet new ideas and take important decisions with determination and verve,” says Giuliano. “This building is an important example of how modern technology can be combined with creative and imaginative design.”

The future

“Among the challenges for the future we see the 2015 regulations, and the need to always achieve a shorter time-to-market to maintain customer intimacy. Among our goals is the objective of anticipating our customers’ needs and providing a more holistic solution balanced between the supply of products and services,” concludes Giuliano Matteazzi.

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