A rare glimpse into the home appliance manufacturer De'Longhi's factory at the company's site near Venice, Italy exposed a very thorough process which harmoniously – though not silently – pairs human and mechanical operations.
De'Longhi, a leader in coffee makers which has a large partnership with Nestlé's Nespresso, purchased kitchen appliance maker Kenwood in 2001 for £45.9m (€59m) and acquired P&G's Braun brand name for food appliances in 2013.
The appliance maker's partnership with Nestlé's Nespresso began in 2005 and has been highly successful. The Nespresso brand famously features superstar actor George Clooney in its TV adverts and commands its lion share of the coffee maker market. In 2013 it was estimated that Clooney had earned over $40m (€35.2m) just by being Nespresso's ambassador for seven years.
The factory near Venice has an assembly area covering 8,400 square metres and produces 825 coffee machines a day. Being shown around the facility, it was clear that each section of the factory was working smoothly with parts being tested at various stages of production. Plastics News Europe was told by a De'Longhi representative that the quality systems in place are constantly being monitored and updated to ensure improvement.
The site, which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, contains around 28 injection moulding machines, some but not all of which are supplied by Engel of Austria. The water tank of the Nespresso machine is one of the parts made by injection moulding. More than 100 moulds are also produced at the site for moulding coffee maker parts. The company says it utilises Italian company Piovan Plastics' ancillary equipment in the production of its coffee machines.
A De'Longhi representative highlighted to Plastics News Europe that the 24/7 running of the site allows for optimal production as the first half of the year is notoriously slower for sales than the end.
Currently the Italian site employs more than 800 people in total, while De'Longhi's plant in Jacu, Romania employs more than 1,000 people after a few staff increases in recent years, the last being the employment of 170 people in January 2015.
De'Longhi produces a number of different models of coffee maker, ranging from the high-end bean-to-cup machines, such as the PrimaDonna model, to the more affordable capsule coffee machines, such as the Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Melody machines. One of its most popular models is the Nespresso range of machines.
99.1% of coffee machines produced at the Italian facility pass the testing process, which every single machine produced at the factory has to undergo, a De'Longhi representative told Plastics News Europe – a quality measure that will be very reassuring for consumers.
The company is recognised in particular for the design of its appliances, with a lot of its coffee machines being available in multiple bright colours and featuring smooth curved lines and minimalist controls.
In 2007 De'Longhi's Esclusivo line of kitchen appliances won a Red Dot design award and in 2006 De'Longhi design director Giocomo Borin was recognised by Home Furnishing News as one of the 50 most influential designers in the world.
Embracing its position as a design leader De'Longhi has recently announced that it is sponsoring the Art Projects Artist Award at the London Art Fair 2016.
The appliance maker also produces electric ovens, kettles, toasters, deep fryers, and grills and barbecues, with the company saying its vision is that De'Longhi will be recognised as the global market leader in coffee, comfort and selected kitchen and homecare.
The company, which was founded by the De'Longhi family in 1902 as an industrial parts manufacturing workshop, operates 13 production facilities and 30 subsidiaries worldwide. In 2014 De'Longhi employed around 6,500 people globally.