Alapala Machine is one of the global leaders which has proven itself in milling technologies. Stating “I would like to say that so far no one has been able to come up with an alternate technology which we have been using for over 100 years”, Vice Chairman of the Board Görkem Alapala summarizes their promises about technology as follows: “As always we guarantee a robust quality and performance.”
In March issue, we have placed a new section in our magazine: “Technology Platform”. In this section, we will feature companies developing technologic solutions for global grain and pulse processing industry; and our first guest is Görkem Alapala, Vice Chairman of the Board of Alapala Machine which is one of the leader companies in milling machinery.
Görkem Alapala is the third generation representative of Alapala which was established as a family company. The founder of the company is Mehmet Alapala who is one of the doyens in milling industry and passed away not long ago. His son İsmail Alapala who took over after Mehmet Alapala has managed to make Alapala one of the two leader companies in the sector both with the inherited tradition and his competency coming from engineering education. Today, İsmail Alapala procees his way with his son Görkem Alapala as he did with his father once. We talked about Alapala Machine’s success in technology solutions and its targets with Görkem Alapala, who is quite successful in creating a vision by combining the knowledge and experience of the two doyens with today’s trends.
Mr. Alapala, Alapala Machine is one of the leading companies in milling technologies industry. Could you please tell us the history of Alapala Machine and how you have come to today?
Alapala had its humble beginnings over 60 years ago when it was founded by my grandfather, Mehmet Alapala, as a carpentry shop. Over the years through the forward thinking of my father Ismail Alapala, who joined the business after graduating as a mechanical engineer, Alapala has evolved to become one of the two leading companies in its sector.
We know that you offer turn-key solutions to your customers; however what is the difference of Alapala in terms of technology?
I would like to say that so far no one has been able to come up with an alternate technology which we have been using for over 100 years, but we can make it efficient through the application of the appropriate current technologies available. By doing this we have made our machines and processes highly efficient durable and energy efficient.
What can you say about the innovations, different and innovative solutions that you have brought to the milling industry in your history of more than 60 years?
Our current machinery is evolved from the in house R&D where we have re-engineered our machinery to suit the requirements of the modern millers by addressing their needs. As you know today, we have our new generation of machinery which have won several innovation and design awards. We are also fortunate that we have access to the Satake grain R&D facilities in Hiroshima, Japan. This facility is among one of the best in the world.
Could you give us some information about your role, place both in Turkish and in global milling industry, and your share in milling market? How many countries have you reached and how many turn-key flour plants have you installed in more than 60 years?
Currently, we are present in over 95 countries around the world meaning that we have turnkey projects and machinery in over 95 countries. 95% of our production is exported and the rest goes to the domestic market. It is difficult to say how many turnkey projects we have around the world and a good estimate would be around over 400.
It is very important to keep production continuous for the industries like milling in which competition is intense and time is precious. Therefore a possible failure should be overcome as soon as possible. Could you please give us some information about the technical services that Alapala offers to its customers? For instance, how much time does it take to provide technical service to the farthest place according to you?
After sales service and spare parts backup is part of Alapala’s DNA. Every day we strive to find ways of improving our already efficient after sales service. We understand the needs of the miller and the consequences of the cost of a down time in a mill. For this reason we have service personnel available at all times first to give online solutions failing that we can have a service engineer on site within 48 hours. In countries where we have our own offices we would be on site within hours. One important point which I would like to stress is that our machines are designed and engineered for the minimum of maintenance requirement, they are durable. Recently we provide predictive maintenance systems in our machines which alert the miller for the requirement of maintenance. We can also monitor this online in Çorum.
Apart from technology, another significant issue for an effective production process is training. No matter how developed or successful they are, if the technologies that you produce cannot be utilized usefully reaching the target may be difficult. Do you provide training for the staff who will work in production after you complete the installation of a factory or machine? Could you give us some information about your works on this issue?
Our philosophy is to develop technologies, which when adapted to our machines and the milling process to make the mill operation and machines user friendly and above all to perform efficiently for what they were designed for. During the erection and commissioning of the mill our clients’ key personnel are given extensive training in the operation, preventive maintenance and care of our machinery. Further we have training programmes at our facilities in Çorum.
Today’s competition conditions force the technology producers to be very fast and active. As any developed technologic product can become out of date quickly, it is necessary to run after innovation constantly in order not to lose power. Can this be applied to the milling industry too? What is the average life span of a new and improved milling technology in today’s conditions? How long does a technology remain “innovative”?
As in any engineering and machine building industry technology plays a vital role the same applies for us. We always have to be alert and innovative. The milling process in essence has not changed in over 100 years and as I said before the current milling technology today is an evolution so to answer part of your question there is no lifespan on the principal technology. What we are now achieving is the adaptation of new technology to the principal technology for efficiency and power saving. In today’s world it is difficult to say what the life of a new innovation will be as there are new innovations coming up faster that we can adopt them to our systems.
Applying rapid changes and innovative developments in digital technologies to milling industry must be quite difficult and need serious R&D studies. Could you tell us about Alapala’s works on this issue? Could you give us some information about your R&D studies and the budget you prepared for these studies? Could you tell us which issues you focus on for R&D studies?
Yes we are now using more electronic technology to facilitate the miller. Some part of our R&D is developing systems for complete automation of the mill which we can soon realise some goes in to development of new operational software and self-diagnosis software. One very important part of our R&D is energy reduction by using electronics.
Could you tell us about the innovations that you have developed recently and the advantages & gains that these innovations provided to the industry? What are the new technologies you hope to offer to the millers in the following period?
I think this question can be answered by the millers who are operating mills designed and manufactured by Alapala. But from the feedback we receive the advantages are far beyond our expectations. To sum it all, it is the performance and quality. To add to this we have a number of R&D projects, which as you will understand I cannot disclose.
What do you think about the reasons why millers choose the technologies of Alapala? What kind of advantages and gains does a miller have when he/she prefers Alapala in order to renovate its technology or establish a new plant? In short, what do you promise to the millers?
Without going into depth, it is our price to quality & engineering ratio. By that I mean with an excellent quality and performance of our machinery and technology the return on investment is far better than our main competitors. As always we guarantee durability, quality and performance.
What would you like to add about your future plans?
I happy to say that we are continuously evolving by investing and bettering ourselves in respect of the machinery we manufacture and the state of the art machinery to manufacture our machinery. Alapala philosophy is also to invest in its work force.