by Vicky Kaliakou
The “smartification” of manufacturing can enable Greek enterprises to produce products and services of higher added value and become more competitive. According to the “Industry 4.0 Survey”, Greece demonstrates “pockets” of technological strength that, if appropriately supported, could be used as the basis for the setup of a “knowledge-intensive” Industry 4.0 economy.
A company Greece should be proud of is Gizelis Robotics. It was recognized by “StartUs Insights” out of 589 companies as one of the top-5 startup robotics companies in the world for industrial applications.
“With the team of talented engineers in the R&D department and with the collaborations with Universities and institutions in Greece and abroad, Gizelis Robotics produces innovative –made in Greece– cutting-edge technology and constantly upgrades the integrated ‘smart manufacturing’ and sustainable compliant solutions,” Evagelos Gizelis, Founder and CEO of Gizelis Robotics tells BF. “It offers to the market, putting into practice the productive transformation, in terms of Industry 4.0. Besides, Gizelis Robotics responding to today’s unprecedented sanitary conditions and utilizing its valuable expertise in robotics, created Robotsafe™, the first Made in Greece autonomous disinfection robot.”
In the top-5 startups of the world
How did it start?
“Gizelis Robotics was established 4 years ago and it is the newest company of the industrial group of companies GIZELIS S.A., which is one of the oldest, established manufacturers of sheet metal processing machines, with exports that now exceed 80% of its production,” Gizelis points out. “Our team of engineers and experts exceeds 33 employees. Our talented people are the most valuable asset of the company.”
Located in privately owned premises in Schimatari, Attiki, the company can develop new applications to offer high-standard products and services. Gizelis Robotics is a leading integrator of robotics systems and high-tech automation applications for the global industry.
“The company provides both unique and on-demand robotic solutions as well as combined robotics and Artificial Intelligence solutions to Greek industry and foreign markets. Our main markets are the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and America, while there are several other countries where, already, the company is responding to an increasing demand for robotic automation systems and is already forming strategic alliance partnerships with simultaneous expansion of international sales networks in Germany, the United Kingdom, the Balkans, Cyprus and other countries. Our goal for Gizelis Robotics is to be a choice of top manufacturers internationally,” says Evagelos Gizelis.
In partnership with Ericsson and COSMOTE, Gizelis Robotics transformed Calpak’s plant into the first smart factory in Greece using a cellular campus network. “Gizelis Robotics contributes dynamically with its robotic systems know-how to the creation of a ‘Smart Factory’ in the context of smart manufacturing in the Greek and international industries.
The first smart factory (of Calpak) in Greece went live with the use of robots and cobots, utilizing at the same time the benefit sprouting from the combination of machine learning, specialized big data software and robotics for a gradual transition to new, unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity.
Proof of the company’s excellence is the constant investment in human capital and new technologies that have brought it out, among other things, in the 5th fastest growing startup of robotics on a global scale. That makes me very proud,” Mr. Gizelis concludes.
First “smart” factory in Greece
The fist smart factory in Greece is the fully automated solar water heater production facility of Calpak in Loutraki. The goal is to increase the factory’s productivity and enhance its competitiveness.
“Calpak pioneers in multiple fields. As a company we apply innovation both in the designing of our products and the methodology of production. For instance, we are proud to have received a European patent for the revolutionary Calpak X-flow ultra-tank, which is a high efficiency freshwater tank that can deliver ample domestic hot water at an efficiency rate of 99%! Another example is the innovative use of the polymeric material colofast® in our new Prisma flat collector range. This material, that so far had a widespread use in the automotive industry, delivers some great attributes to our collector. It strengthens its composite structure, achieves absolute humidity protection and offers a perfect finishing. As per the methodology of production, some examples of our eagerness to be pioneers are the use of Artificial Intelligence in the welding process, a technology that enables our robotic arms, through machine learning, to perform perfect welding and the first time ever in Greece use of a private 5G network campus that enables our company to have real-time control on almost all production procedures,” Panayis Konstantinidis, CEO of Calpak, tells BF.
What does the CEO of the fist “smart” factory in Greece think about Industry 4.0?
“I think that Industry 4.0 is a great opportunity for the Greek industry. It is the opportunity we needed in order to catch up with the countries that have a more advanced industry. Technologies related to Industry 4.0 can be applied in almost any production plant, regardless of its size, and can lead to multiple competitive advantages. Of course it is not easy to benefit from these new technologies unless you are prepared to go through a radical transformation process that will enable your company to step into this new era. Nevertheless, those companies that will achieve to go through this process of change will be able to address the challenges of today’s global environment and achieve sustainable growth,” he tells BF.
From subsidiary to family-owned
Calpak was founded in 1976 as a subsidiary of BP (British Petroleum) and soon became the first company of Europe to achieve widespread use of solar energy for domestic hot water. Since 1990, it continues its successful course as a family-owned Greek company.
To date, it has installed solar systems in more than 1,000,000 households around the world and remains a pioneer in the field of research, development and production of quality solar energy products and thermal energy storage.
In 1977, Calpak produced its first thermosyphon system and 2 years later a state-of-the-art solar laboratory, the first of its kind amongst all European industry, was installed at its premises. In 1981, the model “Calpak Mark2” had such a commercial success that it changed the perception of solar thermal energy all around Europe and a few years later Calpak became export-oriented.
Long-term agreements with the National Center for Scientific Research “Democritus”, the University of Patras, the National Technical University of Athens, the Centre of Renewable Energy Sources and other scientific and technological institutions substantially strengthened the R&D ability of Calpak.
In 2013, new investments were made towards the technological improvement of production means and in 2020 Calpak’s new plant became a reality.
The article is published in the January/ February issue of Greek Business File. It is part of the cover story on the autonomous production methods powered by robots. It presents the global trends in the robotics markets, the level of robotic process automation in Greek enterprises, the pioneers of the sector in Greece and the Greek companies that have emerged as Industrial Robot Companies. The January / February issue of Greek Business File is available here.