From València to cross the pond and challenge Brexit. The Valencian company of intelligent solutions WiTraC sets out to conquer new markets after ‘seducing’ companies such as Mercadona, Pocelanosa, Ford or Volkswagen. The challenge is doubly ambitious: on the one hand, it will open offices in the Basque Country, Madrid and Barcelona and, at the same time, it will make the leap on an international scale in places such as the US, Mexico and England before the end of 2019. An expansion motivated by the growth of a business that offers modular and wireless location and monitoring solutions for companies.
Behind this Valencian firm are Pep Pons and Javier Ferrer, two industrial engineers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) who detected shortcomings in terms of control and visibility of stock and resources in the industry. “I was in a great strategy and operations consultancy and I realized that the world was in need of visibility and control. When you are blind you do not see what is happening around you and the industry wasted a lot of money, resources and time in doing things of manually, without data, “says Ferrer, CEO of the company. This is how they designed a real-time measurement and monitoring solution on any material in a company to have real knowledge about what is happening in supply chains and, in turn, know its status.
“We created hardware with location and sensor data that was efficient, that is, wireless and in real time to help the industry. And unknowingly we developed artificial intelligence software. Combining both we achieved a comprehensive track and trace solution to solve visibility, traceability and control problems to make logistics flows more efficient “, explains the CEO of the company who has recently received the Innovative SME award granted by the automotive cluster AVIA.
These sensors allow locating and measuring any product to detect what it consumes, whether it is moving or not, or its state: whether it is cold or hot. “You have a real-time diagnosis of what is happening and, from there, the technological doctor that is the WiTraC brain proposes recipes or solutions to improve and be more efficient,” he explains. And the purpose of this technology is to achieve “a safer and more efficient industry that is more connected to ensure that the user has a better product,” he highlights.
His first big milestone was getting Ford Spain as the first customer. “They had a track and trace problem that no one had solved for them and two kids arrived and we got it. It was an American company located in Valencia that first trusted in innovation before others,” he recalls . Now they have about 50 clients, including large brands, mainly from sectors related to logistics, food and the automotive sector, who are “the first to have risen to this tsunami of Industry 4.0 because they need to be on the crest of the wave” .
After captivating the giant of the oval, the company entered Lanzadera where they were equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to stabilize their business model. Throughout these years they have also received the support of programs such as StartUPV, Climate KIC or Impact Growth.
But this location and measurement technology has not only brought companies better management of their resources, but also significant financial savings. “We saved one client about 20 million euros in six months because he had a lot of stock and thanks to WiTrac he lowered his volumes achieving that saving. We saved another one million the first month by detecting where his pallets disappeared “, he details. And the fact is that the solutions of this technology are so diverse that they have also made it possible to measure, for example, the suspended particles, the humidity and the temperature of the buses of the Valencia EMT.
Expansion plans: to conquer the market
Now its new horizon is to expand its network of offices to cover its clients in more than 15 countries, and the search for new talents to double its current workforce of 50 people in 12 months. This expansion involves opening offices in England, the east coast of the US and in Mexico before the end of 2019. There is no fear of Brexit. “Companies there also need our solutions,” he emphasizes. At the moment, they already have the heads of the Mexican and British delegations and are looking for the most suitable profile to head the offices in America. In six months they hope to have a staff of at least five people in each of the offices. “The Anglo-Saxon weight will have more presence but always devised from Valencia,” he underlines.
In Spain, they finalize their landing in the Basque Country, Barcelona and Madrid and by 2020 they plan to arrive in France and Germany. “It is not such an ambitious plan, but a realistic one. Our clients are abroad and we have to satisfy that demand. WiTraC will be close to its client and our client is all over the world”, explains Ferrer. In 2018, they had a turnover of 1.5 million and they plan to close this year at around five million. “We want to be a track and trace benchmark in Industry 4.0 in three years,” Ferrer emphasizes. And it precisely emphasizes the importance of companies getting on the digitalisation train to be more advanced and competitive.
València, on the global radar of technological innovation
“All the agents of the ecosystem have to get rid of the bureaucracy and the idea that the small businessman has that thinks that technology is for the big ones”, he assures. This adaptation is, in his opinion, a lack of culture that must be incorporated soon because those that turn their back on this “fourth industrial revolution” will be doomed to disappear. “It is not necessary to spend thousands of euros to sensorize a company. The Valencian company must listen because industry 4.0 has made some companies that were nothing now the ones with the highest market value in the world”, he highlights.
Facing the longer term future, Javier Ferrer is clear: to make WiTraC a national benchmark within Industry 4.0 and to continue opening new branches and business units. “We want to position not only WiTraC but Valencia on the global radar of technological innovation in certain strategic sectors,” he concludes.