It is distinguished by the philosophy “technology and quality hand in hand” and by its proven innovation capacity. TMG Automotive, one of the TMG group companies, is one of the big names at Fibrenamics list of partners.

TMG was founded in 1937, under the name of Fábrica da Fiação e Tecidos do Vale, by Manuel Gonçalves.

Transformed into a anonymous company in 1965, Têxtil Manuel Gonçalves SA is the group that differentiates itself thanks to the philosophy of its founder, anchored in the inseparability of Technology and Quality.

Initially this group had its activity centered on the textile industrial area, however the company soon decided to embark on diversification in other business areas. Currently, its activity includes sectors as distinct as interiors for automobiles (TMG Automotive), retail and distribution of sportswear (Lightning Bolt), aerial means (HeliPortugal), systems and solutions for energy, engineering, environment and transport (Efacec), wine production and distribution (Caves Transmontanas and Casa de Compostela), energy production through cogeneration and hydro, and, finally, interests in the financial area.

From innovation to success

TMG Automotive is one of the highlights of this group, especially with regard to innovation. Headquartered on Guimarães surroundings in Campelo, the company has about 300 employees, of which about 45 have higher education. Research and development activities directly involve 39 employees, 11 of whom have higher education.

The strategy defined since 1997 by TMG- Plastic Fabrics and Other Coatings for the Automobile Industry, SA is “Remain Focused on the plastic based products while enlarging product range depth, increasing market share in Europe and subsequently in the world” (Remain focused on products based on plastic, expanding the product range in order to increase market share in Europe and the world). According to Elizabete Pinho, R&D Manager at TMG Automotive, “this strategic vision has been a key factor in the evolution of the company which, through the continuous acquisition of cutting-edge technological equipment, has effectively endowed its industrial platforms, thus sustaining the its competitive capacity, a determining factor in the current context ”.

In this perspective, and to reinforce the company's competitiveness and sustained development, it is “fundamental to promote a culture of innovation and to stimulate the constant search for new solutions, new products and new business opportunities”, highlights Elizabete Pinho.

In this sense, innovation is seen as the result of creative work in an organized and systematic way that aims to increase knowledge and use it in order to create new applications, implement new or better solutions for the company, products, processes, methods or marketing, with the objective of converting into sales.

“Activities such as systematizing screening and scouting activities, opening the company to the world with the notion of our real positioning, establishing systems for promoting and managing ideas and converting them into sales products, are essential in any area of ​​activity and have allowed us to evolve in different businesses in directions aligned with a sustainable future ”stresses Elizabete Pinho.

The valuation of TMG Automotive's innovation activity is proven through its participation in the pioneering certification group of SGIDI (Research, Development and Innovation Management System) by NP 4457: 2007. This SGIDI certification reinforced management by processes, clarifying the innovation process.

Great names in the automotive sector such as BMW, Mercedes, Daimler or Volvo, are examples of brands whose interiors are produced at TMG, following high standards of quality control, creativity and design.

Innovation focused on TMG Automotive's target market, in close connection with customers, meeting their explicit and implicit needs, is an increasingly essential competitive advantage in the company's international sphere of activity, especially given the degree of competitiveness in Automobile industry.

Fibrenamics, “a reference entity”

Natural fibers are increasingly being applied to automobiles, and the electric models of BMW, one of TMG Automotive's main customers, are an example of this. In this sense, it was necessary to explore ideas in this area, with a special focus on the application of flexible materials for visible and tactile surfaces of the automotive interior.

Therefore, and given the company's strategy of increasing involvement with Universities, with its departments and spin-offs, it was natural to approach Fibrenamics, initially having some elements of the company participating in training actions, presentation and dissemination sessions.

According to Elizabete Pinho, the capacity and dynamism of the Fibrenamics team and the clear results orientation and availability profile for contract research projects were quickly identified, thus the platform was selected by TMG as a reference entity and with which it was decided to establish closer collaboration in a medium / long-term strategic area.

Elizabete Pinho clarifies that this partnership intends to "perform screening of a new product area for the company, increasing internal know-how and reducing time-to-market" through the Fibrenamics team's experience in matching fibers and adapting them to the polymer matrix used in the company, developing products with a strong orientation towards the standards used in the automotive interior and suitable for the transformation processes.

The transfer to TMG of compatibility techniques for natural fibers that allow the study of customized future solutions, as well as the training of the Fibrenamics team regarding TMG Automotive requirements, both in terms of available technologies and industry-specific regulations. that condition the development of products, are also objectives of this partnership that promises to be fruitfull.

Date: March/2016
Interviewed: Elisabete Pinho, R&D Manager - TMG


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