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Exploring GDM’s Remarkable Journey to Global Disposable Hygiene Leadership, Sustainable Innovations, and Future Endeavors

In this exclusive interview with Maurizio Cantoni, Head of Sales & Marketing at GDM, we delve into the evolution of GDM as a pioneering force in the disposable hygiene sector. From its foundation in 1986 to the present day, GDM has not only established itself as a global leader but has also continually adapted to meet the ever-evolving needs of the market.

Mr. Cantoni shares insights into GDM’s focus on innovation and sustainability, showcasing their commitment to providing environmentally responsible solutions. He discusses recent breakthroughs in disposable hygiene products and the technology behind them. Furthermore, he provides valuable advice for businesses looking to enter the disposable hygiene sector and highlights the importance of understanding the market and establishing reliable partnerships.

Join us as we explore how GDM envisions the future of disposable hygiene products and technologies, in a market that’s rapidly changing and becoming increasingly competitive. Finally, discover how GDM is leading the way in embracing digital transformation and Industry 4.0 to provide cutting-edge services and automated solutions for the industry. The conversation offers a comprehensive view of GDM’s commitment to excellence and its dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation in the disposable hygiene sector.”

1. Can you provide an overview of GDM’s journey and evolution as a global leader in the disposable hygiene sector?

GDM is spearheading a transformative era in disposable hygiene manufacturing solutions: converting and packaging machinery for baby and adult diapers, underpads, as well as feminine hygiene products.

Founded in 1986, GDM as we know it today was born in 1995 from the merger of two companies acquired by Coesia, a group of innovation-based industrial and packaging solutions companies operating globally. In 1999 GDM acquired the Engineering Department of a well-known multinational disposable hygiene manufacturer, taking advantage of a 50-year engineering experience. From that moment on GDM has never stopped expanding its portfolio: from packaging machinery to end-of-line, it is now able to offer turnkey solutions to customers who want to profit from a single source supplier.

In recent years we have harnessed innovative technologies and a progressive “Business Made Easy” approach. Our focus has shifted from a supplier of cutting-edge technology for the disposable hygiene industry, to a 360-degree partner providing “full-plant solutions”. From pre-sale consultancy to after-sales customer care, we aim to support and simplify our customers’ business at every step.

2. What innovations or advancements in disposable hygiene products and technologies has GDM been particularly proud of in recent years?

What we always aim to do is try to respond to the needs of an ever-changing market. For this reason, in the past few years, we have been expanding GDM solutions portfolio. We have been offering higher-speed machinery for our standard technologies, such as baby open diapers, as well as focusing on new product trends, specifically designing machinery for baby and adult pants.

Nowadays consumers are not only asking for new formats but also for thinner yet performing absorbent products. For this reason, the disposable diaper industry has been moving fast towards the redefinition of core, the innermost layer of the diaper typically consisting of a blend of cellulose fluff pulp and SAP (polyacrylate granules). One of the innovations on products we are proudest of is GDM Extra Thin Core.

Our technology allows to balance the two ingredients, fluff and SAP, thus adjusting the core recipe to make the product thinner and yet extremely performant.

The benefits of a thinner product are first of all economical: in fact, less bulky products mean less cost for logistic, as well as reduced shelf space. Besides, a balanced core allows the design of more discrete, wearable and mobility-aiding diapers.

The sophisticated yet easy-to-operate system of Extra Thin Core has been developed entirely by GDM leveraging advanced CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamic) simulations. Through mathematic models of the raw materials, simulations allow to evaluate the fibers’ distribution within the core and deliver products that can better meet consumers’ needs.

3. How does GDM prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility in its manufacturing processes for disposable hygiene technologies?

Sustainability is among the top priorities of our agenda. As suppliers of advanced technology for the disposable hygiene manufacturing industry, our challenge is to imagine machines, lines, and plants that have a lower environmental footprint. In order to provide customers with greener solutions, we developed Option Zero, a program created exactly with this purpose: designing machines able to process more sustainable raw materials, create less waste, as well as improve operational efficiency and energy savings. From alternatives to traditional core materials to innovation in packaging solutions, we are constantly striving to a greener approach.

This is also true for our corporate vision: in the last years, we have been applying a zero-plastic policy in our headquarters, and ensuring our center of operations with fully renewable-derived energy supply. There is still a long way to go, but we are working hard to respond pragmatically to environmental challenges and commit to a cause that concerns us all.

4. In what ways does GDM collaborate with partners and clients in the MEA region to address specific market needs and demands?

We have activated profitable partnerships with important players in the MEA region, also putting into play the consultancy approach we call “Business Made Easy”. When new players intend to invest in the disposable hygiene industry, the knowledge of the market, and thus of the product’s features, is key to success. We offer specific consultancy at this stage of the chain, working shoulder-to-shoulder with our customers, to understand their specific needs and develop tailored solutions for them.

First, we define together what is the needs of the market in terms of product construction, features, absorbency and performance. Then we translate the idea into reality with Product Quality Lab testing activities, and connect the manufacturer with industry experts, raw materials suppliers, and technology partners – we do value strategic networking. During the design of the product, we also support intellectual property management to help the customer ensure all product features are free from patents. Finally, we are ready to develop the product itself. In order to do this, we leverage GDM’s test rigs, and state-of-the-art technology for the most reliable output.

To thrive in a competitive market, product-specific knowledge is crucial: being experts in the industry, we believe that providing our customers with support from the earliest stages is essential to build a solid business from the basics.

5. Could you share insights into the key challenges and opportunities you see in the disposable hygiene sector, especially in the MEA region?

MEA region is full of golden opportunities for investors in the disposable hygiene industry. In recent years the market has been expanding steadily, especially with regards to baby diapers and lady hygiene segments. The growth, both in value and units, of such segments is rooted in the changes societies are experiencing. The increase of birth rate on one side, changing lifestyles and urbanization on the other, are driving the request for more baby and lady products. And growth doesn’t seem to be stopping soon.

For these reasons, the number of players is also growing pretty fast. The more producers populating the industry, the more competitive the market landscape will be. To face such a challenging scenario, differentiation becomes key to manufacturers, as well as promptly responding to consumers’ requests. Delivering affordable, quality products is thus the only way to assess one’s positioning on the market and gain competitive edge.

6. GDM is known for its commitment to research and development. Can you highlight any recent breakthroughs or projects that demonstrate this dedication?

Innovation is at the heart of our corporate strategy. GDM R&D team focuses on a variety of activities: from designing new production processes for updated product features, through developing customized technological solutions, to studying innovations to handle greener raw materials. With an eye on product trends and one on the latest technological advancements, we are always committed to providing state-of-the-art solutions, catering to the most diverse needs.

As far as the product is concerned, we have recently released Accordion Core, a solution designed to delivering superior absorbency, skin-friendliness and discretion while ensuring manufacturers with meaningful savings on raw materials. And the same applies to our latest technological innovation: In-line Laminated Waistband, an advanced development that responds to market requests for more comfortable and performant products and guarantees manufacturers flexibility and full process control.

Our research and development efforts always aim to provide our customers with solutions tailored on their needs.

7. How does GDM envision the future of disposable hygiene products and technologies?

The disposable hygiene market is changing fast. From one point of view, we must take some global trends into account like, for instance, sustainability. Research shows that consumers are paying more attention to the environmental impact of the articles they purchase, being even willing to pay more for eco-friendliness. Sustainability will also influence the supply chains, which means technological developments: greener raw materials, less waste, and energy-saving machinery are among the innovations we expect to become trends in the next few years.

From another point of view, the disposable hygiene industry is becoming more diverse and much more competitive. With significant differences on local scale, emerging markets are focusing on baby and lady segments, while mature markets are now catering to the needs of aging societies offering a broader range of adult incontinence products. Such heterogeneity is shaping a more complex and composite industry, taking competition to the next level. To stay relevant and generate more value, manufacturers need to quickly respond to such trends and find new ways to stand out of the crowd.

8. Lastly, what advice or insights can GDM offer to aspiring entrepreneurs or businesses looking to enter the disposable hygiene sector?

In an expanding, competitive market, here’s our advice to businesses entering the disposable hygiene industry. First it is important to know the market they are entering – which can help them decide which product to deliver –, and second to find a reliable partner to support them at developing their business and generating value.

For this very reason, we have designed a 360-degree partnership approach called “Business Made Easy”. Our philosophy is to provide global presence as a service and support customers to unlock their full potential.

Thanks to our full-plant solutions, a portfolio of innovative solutions throughout the whole value chain, we aim to be at our clients’ side at all stages. Full-plant solutions are particularly effective in the case of newcomers in the industry, since our extended expertise, knowledge of the market and technological know-how can accompany newborn organizations through every stage of the value chain. From product development and testing, through machinery supply and operators’ training, to after-sales and remote assistance, we can provide advanced turnkey solutions to help manufacturers start production in a short time providing them with the benefits of a single source supplier.

9. Can you mention if you have any local or international standards and certificates?

GDM fully embraces the International Standard for Quality Management – ISO 9001. Our mission is to provide our customers with the best possible solutions and using ISO 9001 ensures that they are partnering with a reliable player. Also, thanks to this certificate, they are sure to get consistent, good-quality products and services, that help them generate more value.

Our responsibility is not only towards our customers but also towards our employees. As part of the Coesia group, we are very serious about improving employee safety. That is why we adopted ISO 45001 – the International Standard for Occupational Health and Safety with the aim to reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions. Like all companies from the group, we believe that people are key to our strength and success, and we want to guarantee them the best safety standards.

Finally, we have decided to prove our responsibility towards the environment with ISO 14001, the International Standard for Environmental Management. This certificate helps us translate our commitment to a better environment into practical actions, contributing to the pillar of sustainability.

10- At the end, you can add any other information that you think is interesting…

On a global scale, the industry is moving towards servitization, and so are we. Over the last few years, GDM expertise has been enriched by the integration of the latest digital developments of Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence, leading to a whole new portfolio of solutions. Digitization, in fact, opens new possibilities in terms of consultancy and advanced customer service. What we are doing, together with Coesia, is building a complete digital ecosystem – Coesia Digital – to go even beyond smart factories and design fully automated plants.

The incorporation of IoT (Internet of Things) into converting and packaging lines allows the implementation of automated processes. Also, it creates a seamless network for real-time data analysis that we can turn into valuable solutions for our customers. What we aim to do is leverage digital technologies at their fullest to offer avant-garde services tailored on diverse needs. Our extensive experience combined with a strong digitized industrial know-how can secure us with the status of market leaders.

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