Tubiflex offers innovative fluid circulation products for both the aerospace and automotive industries and has recently been acquired by the Interpump Group.
Tubiflex has been around since 1951. Could you provide us with a brief overview of its evolution and when it began activities in the aerospace industry?
The company was initially active in the industrial and automotive segments due to our location in Turin. The company’s first sporadic dealings with the aerospace market began in the late 1970s. These experiences helped to forge Tubiflex’s approach to the market and our focus on quality. From 2008 onwards, the company really began to focus on the aerospace industry, coinciding with our EN 9100 certification and our membership of TPA. The segment now accounts for around 18% of our turnover, marginally behind automotive which is our largest area at 20%. Tubiflex as a whole sees an annual turnover of around €22 million, with up to 600 recurring customers in 35 different countries.
How have you developed your expertise in the area since then and how has this affected your product offering?
Tubiflex offers a wide array of products for the conveyance of fluid, as well as stainless steel flexible hoses and assemblies, composite hoses, bellows, expansion joints and PTFE convoluted hoses and assemblies based on proprietary manufacturing technologies. We have been able to use our experience in a large number of applications and across all our business lines to offer our customers a range of new, innovative products. We are now a key producer of components such as drain conduits, bleed lines, ECS, fuel conveyance pipes, ventilation conduits and for special applications in rocket launchers.
You have just been acquired by Interpump Group. How will this affect the company going forward?
Tubiflex was acquired by Interpump in early May 2016. Interpump is the undisputed leader in its market and Tubiflex will add a completely different type of product to the Group’s products portfolio. We have forecasted an improvement in our revenues and synergies in general, as Interpump is engaged in many different markets.
Could you tell us more about the company’s customer base and why Tubiflex is their partner of choice?
Tubiflex clients are spread all over the world. Because the aerospace market requires more made-to-measure solutions and intensive team work in its development than other industries, the main concentration of our engineering efforts are devoted to clients in Italy and France. Our original four customers have increased to 13, raising our aerospace revenues from 3.5% of overall turnover to our current 18% figure.
Could you provide us with an example case study in which Tubiflex has used cross-fertilization of technologies in the aerospace sector?
We produce flexible conduits for one of Europe’s largest helicopter manufacturers. With the titanium system the client was using, it was difficult to fit the piping to the body of the aircraft and fitters had to force the final connection, which occasionally resulted in breakages. Tubiflex came up with a solution using stainless steel which, although heavier than titanium, allows for the creation of easily bendable corrugations. This is common in the automobile industry but had not made the leap to the aerospace industry, so we patented this design. Our more flexible solution not only avoids breakages but is also more compact, which decreases the overall weight, and reduces fitting time from one shift to less than two hours. By responding to client needs we have been able to create a line of innovative new products to supply to new customers.
What are your expectations for both the future of the aerospace industry and the future of Tubiflex under new ownership?
In terms of the industry, the growth of Leonardo-Finmeccanica is positive for us because their companies are operational both in Italy and abroad, which will be advantageous for Italian suppliers such as Tubiflex as it will enable us to increase our international visibility.
At present the forecast for Tubiflex is based on pre-acquisition figures and therefore there are many aspects still to be defined. However, our growth trend has been very positive; our current achievements are exceeding our expectations and we plan to expand our geographic reach. With the support of TPA and our own contacts, we will be able to reach out to new customers; being part of Interpump will increase the pace of this process.