OSCULATI: WHERE MARINE ACCESSORIES ARE BORN
Have you ever stopped and observed the incredible multitude of accessories installed on a boat?
If yes, you will have certainly noticed that most of them bear the brand Osculati, the modern Italian multinational company of marine accessories.
However, only few people know that, beyond its great logistic effort, Osculati studies, designs, engineers and manufacturers many of the accessories it sells.
We have gone snooping around exactly where accessories are born in order to see and tell you how they are made and how their quality is controlled before they get our boats.
Osculati : The Italian multinational company of marine accessor
Alberto Osculati, Executive Director and member of the Osculati family’s third generation active in the business, welcomes us warmly at the the famous Segrate-based headquarters. Kind and helpful, Alberto will show us every single department composing the technical production cycle of the company.
Osculati has been manufacturing and selling boat and yacht accessories since 1958. Today, it is the leading company in Italy and one among the major players in the marine accessory market both at European and international level.
The company boasts two head offices in Segrate and Lucca and a total warehouse and production area of 18,000 square meters. Their catalogue, of biblical proportions we could say, includes 22,000 references, 7,000 of which are products engineered and manufactured in-house.
These first incredible figures allow to meet the incessant demands of over 5,000 professional customers all around the world (60% of which are Aftermarket and 40% OEM) as well as many shipyards and a good number of private clients that, every day, choose Osculati.
Engineering and Design
The first leg of our journey is the first floor of the operational headquarters of the company. The building consists exclusively of offices and, almost as a symbol of its central role within the decision-making process, it rises in the midst of the four warehouses that compose the production site of Segrate; the building, in fact, is also home to the design department.
Behind the real conceptual birth of products, there are experts specialized in various fields that range from engineering to design. The different skills allow to design, develop and manufacture products with a complete expert eye.
We take the opportunity to ask Alberto how important in-house engineering is to be competitive in the marine accessory sector.
” It would make no sense not to have it because boat manufacturers represent 40% of our activity and working for them means proposing some solutions. Without in-house expertise, we couldn’t do that. Of course, these competences are also transferred to Aftermarket products in order to improve and make easier yachtsmen’s experience”.
Here, in addition to Osculati-brand products, other accessories of the catalogue are equally finished. The department is, in fact, a real meeting point between the company and its external suppliers. This makes possible that every accessory in the catalogue is definitively functional and, as insiders tell us, with ” the distinguishing mark of Osculati brand”.
Between desks, where engineers design their products, we notice an area dedicated to 3D printing technology. It is used to test, in real time, the solutions that are designed every day. They explain that the possibility to have the results of their calculations available often helps to fully analyze product functionality.
analysis of the products made by the printer leads us to ask Alberto an other question, that is whether design and functionality are closely related or independent from each other.
” We certainly consider them as concepts related to each other. First, we focus on product function, then we try to ensure that this function becomes true and, finally, we put our heart into it: we’re Italian, so products must be beautiful, too!”
Before continuing our tour in the next department, we get a secret. Engineers confess that they often turn to Mario Osculati, the patron of the company, to receive some useful advice as the fruit of his personal 10-year experience. Indeed, we notice that the office of the company’s “helmsman” is not far from this department.
Production and assembly
Our journey continues in the department dedicated to product production and assembly. To do that, we only have to walk a few meters and reach the imposing warehouse 2.
Here, the manufacturing department is fully equipped and has all the machinery necessary to “forge” new accessories. The area is divided in two compartments; on one side, workers process the parts that will compose finished products; on the other, their colleagues assembly them.
This department delivers 1,300 accessories of Osculati’s catalogue and each worker, according to the complexity of the accessory to manufacture, is able to produce up to 400 items a day.
Given the variety and complexity of processing, not all the parts that compose the product are made in this department.
Melting stages, for example, are carried out by external suppliers but, in order to guarantee a full control and uniformity of pieces, moulds which semifinished products are extracted from are all owned and supplied by Osculati.
The importance and the “pride” of having an in-house production workshop are efficiently explained by the historic head of this department: ” Since the beginning of its history, Osculati has always been characterized by its in-house production workshop that was born and had grown at the same pace of the company. Even when many Italian companies took production abroad, Osculati insisted in going on producing all its historic products in-house”.
Behind the production workshop, we find a warehouse for the exclusive use of this department. In order to have a productivity able to meet the incessant demand for a wide range of products, the production department needs indeed a constant immediate supply. Judging from the extension and the amount of shelves packed with semifinished products, we don’t find difficult to believe that the warehouse can perfectly perform its function.
A company with a large in-house production and multiple suppliers inevitably needs a facility where to carry out an efficient and well-organized quality control in order to keep quality standards high and constant. Osculati’s quality control department, in fact, works at full blast.
To visit it, we get the third warehouse where we see all employees engaged in controls.
Every product coming from the in-house production workshop or from external suppliers, before getting sales shelves or being delivered to buyers, makes a stop here.
Controls are carried our with a sampling plan on every batch of products. They are visual, manipulative, mechanical and even chemical controls. In particular, the saline mist machine used to test stainless steel quality draws our attention. This “cage” produces a fast ageing effect that, within just 72 hours, simulates the exposition to saline natural environment that can be compared to a real time of almost one year and half in the marine environment.
Other special controls are carried out by external partners. For example, breaking strength tests are carried out in collaboration with The Polytechnic University of Milan.
Any findings identified by workers are reported in a special business information system thanks to a technical file associated to each of them. This way, non-compliant products are blocked and controlled. Thanks to this information system, Osculati creates a events history in order to accurately control all products that have statistically produced more defaults.
Moreover, the department collaborates every day with the engineering and production ones, providing detailed reports about the products examined. The result is a chain information system aimed at a constant product improvement.
We have witnessed detailed quality controls and we seize the opportunity to ask Alberto a final question, that is whether the company makes use of customers’ experience to improve its products.
“Absolutely yes, the constant exchange of information with our customers, and with boat manufacturers in particular, is essential. We are not free from mistakes because not everything is foreseeable but, where our brand is, our presence is guaranteed”.