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Live Video Stream Customer Testing Facility (CTF) Accreditation: Gruppo Cimbali and UL Work Together For A ‘New Normal’

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, social distancing measures were implemented, so Gruppo Cimbali faced challenges to proceed with testing of ongoing projects under UL’s Customer Testing Facility (CTF) Program. With the help of UL and the use of live stream video technology, the company succeeded in moving forward with projects. This helped Cimbali to avoid additional delays and slowdowns and introduced a new working approach that will be extended to other company areas and used in the future to optimize time and resources.

Barista making coffee

July 6, 2020

About Gruppo Cimbali

Gruppo Cimbali, headquartered in Milan, Italy, is a leader in the design and production of professional espresso machines. By combining tradition, innovation and technological excellence, the group has become a world leader in the manufacturing of traditional and fully automatic espresso machines.

The group comprises the historic brands of La Cimbali, Faema, Casadio and Slayer, so it has plenty of experience to harness for the development of its extensive hotel and catering industry solutions. Reliability, performance, ergonomics and design, as well as unfailing quality in the cup, are the cornerstones of the company’s work.

Over the years, the group has grown an international audience of consumers for its products. The quality and experience of the Cimbali Group has led to the creation of a distribution network covering more than 100 countries and involving 700 distributors. Although the group today has a global framework, it remains Italian at its heart, with a strong presence in the country. Indeed, the Italian production facilities of Binasco (Milan), Ghisalba (Bergamo) and Cappella Cantone (Cremona) manufacture more than 200 machines, on average, daily.

Gruppo Cimbali Logo

Challenges

About five years ago, the experts of the experimental laboratory of Gruppo Cimbali, who verify the conformity of the products and the obtainment of third-party marks, received a CTF2 accreditation from UL. This makes it possible for Gruppo Cimbali to internally perform a significant part of the tests for IECEE CB Scheme certifications. The program requires that participating test facilities have the appropriate physical resources, equipment and qualified personnel to conduct testing, equivalent to what would be used in UL laboratories for the same testing to help ensure data consistency and quality.

The Gruppo Cimbali laboratory had all the necessary requirements to get the CTF2 accreditation, which proved to be a fundamental element in the past five years to optimize internal resources and accelerate product certification and time to market. However, this accreditation needs to be repeated every year and requires witness testing from UL experts to validate that all the necessary conditions to maintain the accreditation are satisfied. But Lombardy -where the biggest production centers of the group are located- was one of the Italian regions most affected by  COVID-19. Consequently, it was also the area where social distancing rules were first introduced by the Italian government. Due to these necessary safety measures, it was impossible to meet with people and move from one company to another. Many companies had people  work from home wherever possible, while others were temporarily closed. It was simply impossible to meet someone for professional reasons.

Gruppo Cimbali had to stop almost all ongoing projects that could not be handled in a virtual way, and the CTF2 accreditation was put on hold since it needed UL experts to be present. All the ongoing certification projects were stopped for one month, with serious consequences for the time to market of several new coffee machine models.

‘’At this point, it was fundamental to look for possible solutions and find an alternative to this stuck situation, otherwise we would have had additional slowdowns with very impactful consequences,’’ said Davide Sampaoli, Gruppo Cimbali’s laboratory manager.

How UL helped

The solution didn’t take too long to arrive. When the certification experts of Cimbali shared their worries with the UL engineering team, the first thought was to apply for an accreditation extension that would have allowed Gruppo Cimbali to conduct audits and witnessed testing remotely.

Once this idea was approved, both teams cooperated to find the most appropriate instrument configuration by testing different options. The main goal was to let Cimbali engineers and technicians perform the necessary tests while showing what was being done to UL’s team for them to validate. The tools used included Bluetooth earphones, wireless cameras and environmental speakers. Even though these are common and simple devices, they were fundamental to accomplish the task successfully. Also, myUL™ Client Portal was the perfect place to upload necessary documents, as it granted both UL and Gruppo Cimbali the needed security to host meaningful documents.

Within two weeks, the accreditation was obtained entirely remotely, with the Gruppo Cimbali team alternating working from home and working from their laboratory. Gruppo Cimbali was the first company to achieve the Live Video Stream CTF2 Accreditation with UL and this was a strong and important achievement for both teams to be able to overcome challenging circumstances and work together towards a new future and a new way of working.

Results

This success was the result of different factors, but one was the most important: the strong cooperation that unified both teams in reaching their goal. The cooperation between the two companies is 10 years old, revealing its power and strength. “The most important added value of UL were the people,” said Sampaoli. The relationship and the synergies that have grown over the years of working together have let us identify the most important needs and find a targeted solution,” said Sampaoli. The cooperation helped the teams test different scenarios and verify the one that best fit their needs.”

“We had the same will to overcome bonds and by sharing ideas and suggestions in an informal and easy way, we were able to improve the configuration options and find a solution to come back to normal,” he added. 

This achievement enabled the company to move forward several projects: eight new coffee machine models that had been put on hold for certification issues could now be reactivated.

“Compared to the initial situation after one month from the COVID-19 spread, I can say that this accomplishment gave us the opportunity to almost recover the gap caused by the pandemic. I want to thank UL for helping us manage this difficult situation,” Sampaoli  said.

“If the company had not found this solution, many projects would have been put on hold or completely canceled and many activities would have restarted only after the end of the COVID-19 emergency. As an alternative, the company could have decided to outsource certification projects, but this would have involved additional costs, while the internal experienced resources could have not been leveraged.”

“Now that we are out of this, I can say that the Live Video Stream accreditation has taught us several things that we don’t want to forget, even when we will back 100% to normal,” Sampaoli added “This new way of working — as with smart working in general – has become a new approach for us that is providing very positive results we are also going to adopt in other internal processes.”

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