April saw YTC sales staff travel across Europe to Imola, Italy where one of our major tile suppliers Imola Ceramica welcomed us for a visit.
Founded in 1874 Imola Ceramica is Italy’s oldest production cooperative although it wasn’t tiles they were producing but tableware & pottery. This began a journey of exploring the potential of ceramics with innovation being a driving force for Imola.
The core business soon focused on the creation of tiles for floors & facings and this focus is still at the heart of Imola’s productions today with prestigious artistic collaborations & innovative aesthetics & technologies.
Our tour guide for the few days we spent there was Roberto Rebeggiani – the Imola rep for the UK.
Fresh off the plane he took us to the Imola showroom which was fantastic as it gave us the chance to see all the new ranges. A couple of the ranges we looked at were these large format ranges which among other sizes come in a whopping 2.6m x 1.2m (with a thickness of just 6.5mm).
Another tile which caught our eyes was this – interestingly inspired by the stained glass windows of the old Imola factory.
Next was a tour around the factory. This was a favourite for us as we got to see how a product we sell every day is actually made.
I was surprised by how much of the process is done entirely by machines, from the raw materials beginning the cycle to the finished packed product. The machinery is so stringent that if any of the tiles made don’t meet Imola’s quality control procedures they’re binned, amazingly though none of the tiles go to waste – they recycle all of the wastage to make brand new tiles.
Despite the majority of the process being machine orientated, there are still lots of much needed Imola staff on-hand to keep everything running smoothly, they employ a huge 1200 employees (and that’s just in the factory!).
Another surprise was how big the factory was, Imola typically has 12million square metres of tiles in stock at any time, just a tad more than our Sheffield branch which holds around 10,000. Even the kiln used for firing their tiles is over 130 metres long and fires tiles up to 1210 degrees… Rather the tiles than me.
We finished our trip with a visit to Bologna which was just a half hour train journey away from Imola – it was so nice to see and learn a little about Italy.
Ciao for now Imola!