FRANCOIS GASSIN
CEO OF VALENTIN THIERION

Can you tell us about your business?

The Valentin Thièrion Company has two businesses: winemaking machines and leading edge robotics for production processes.

The wine engineering entity is a manufacturer of winemaking machines addressing the complex processes of disgorging sparkling wines (champagne, crémants, blanquette, clairette…).

The robotic entity covers a broad range of industrial applications. It produces specific machines and customized automated solutions, for various industries: food, petroleum, pharma and cosmetics. Our engineers develop the best mechanical and robotized solutions to improve productivity, personal safety and product handling. Exports account for 49% of our turnover.

Why do you have such a broad range of products?

Before taking over UTch (now Valentin Thièrion), the company was producing winemaking machines only. Confronted to a toughening competition, especially from Italy, we had to change our strategy and offer new products and services.

Thanks to the strategic initiatives of our President and the subsequent takeovers of companies that complemented our business, plus the fact that we are now part of Les Manufactures Février Group, we can develop new products, such as amber-type lighting, to light up wine cellars while protecting the product from the taste of light. The project was conducted in partnership with our LED lighting specialist: Thomas Watt Lighting Pro, and its highly skilled design office.

New products currently developed for that market segment will be available very soon. We recently delivered an automatic press feeder solution: design, manufacture, assembly, installation in 10 weeks at a client’s site Henri GIRAUD Champagne in Aÿ. A real challenge for our after-sales and production teams.

We are currently working on various product developments: a robotized site for the demolding of the pâté, a patented Eco-system for bottle neck freezing, used by champagne producers.

Are your innovations aimed at creating smart factories?

Yes, we are now working on an environment of connected systems that will consolidate data from various sources and optimize the efficiency of production sites.

We are also developing innovative and connected eyewear solutions that will contribute to create more value with our new maintenance contracts for production lines and machines over a certain size.

However, the deployment of an industry 4.0 technology is a complex and time-consuming transformation for us and our clients. We don’t underestimate the challenges at hand. The whole team is working hard at finding the right algorithms and fine-tuning our action plans.