We interviewed Antonio Mateos, Head of the R & D at TINO Natural Stone. Antonio is a Senior Industrial Engineer, specializing in Mechanics, Executive Master in Business Management, Executive MBA. He is a University Expert in fields such as fracture analysis and fatigue resistance in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering and risks in explosive atmospheres. Antonio has worked as head of R&D, industrial development, industrial processes, foreign trade, and international logistics in several companies and entities during the last 18 years. He is also an entrepreneur in the renewable energy sector and collaborates with the University of Malaga in projects related to energy storage.
+ What are the maxims that govern the innovation work at TINO Natural Stone?
In the construction, architecture, decoration, and interior design sectors, new problems, new trends, and new needs requiring solutions are continually arising. One of the maxims of innovation work at TINO is to provide solutions to these problems with products made of marble and natural stone.
The other maxim is more disruptive: create new products that did not exist before.
+ What kind of work does the R & D department carry out at TINO Natural Stone?
Well, the fundamental task is constant technological vigilance. We follow what happens in the sectors related to the activity of the company. With this monitoring, there comes also a search for new marble and natural stone products and new projects to be developed related to stone.
When we launch new types of marble or natural stone products , a standardized test campaign is carried out in accredited laboratories to certify them by what the market demands and what the regulations require.
If we establish a new project related to the development of a new product, such as Stratum or Stonesize, we launch an initial phase of a feasibility study manufacturing and testing the prototypes. When we go beyond this stage, we mark a general calendar of performances, possible external collaborations, and tests, all of this with an assigned budget and the goal to obtain a functional product. Finally, once we achieve the product, limited units are manufactured and are subject to real operations and standardized tests. We also establish the systems and installation elements, and the technical bibliography related to the product begins to be generated, coinciding with the beginning of the new product launch.
+ How were the beginnings of this department?
There is no recognizable beginning other than the beginning of the company because R & D has always been in Tino’s philosophy, even though formally there was no R & D department.
I started working in this area of the company in 2016, and there was already a multitude of R & D projects underway. The beginning of the current department consisted of formalizing and documenting existing projects and then starting with new projects.
+ Has the way of working changed a lot since the beginning of the department until now? How?
Initially, the work in this area was mainly experimental and practical: designing, testing, and manufacturing textures, finishes, and other types of treatments before going to market . In recent years, there is a bigger focus on the theoretical foundations of the products to be developed so that these theoretical foundations can be be a solid foundation for experimental developments.
+ Do you work closely with other departments of the company?
Yes, of course. The production area is fundamental because everything has to be manufactured so that it can be tested in real world conditions. The commercial department is also essential for conveying customer opinions. Finally, once the product has launched, the customer service area is fundamental as a source of feedback on the final product.
+ Are there collaborations with institutions outside the company to carry out your work?
Yes, we collaborate intensively with Universities, such as the University of Cadiz. We source theoretical knowledge for our developments in collaboration with scientific research entities, such as this one. We also work continuously with the Centro Tecnológico del Mármol, in Murcia, especially at the level of execution of standardized tests.
+ How is new product development determined?
There is an R & D committee in the company that meets regularly and establishes the developments to be carried out. The ideas that give rise to these developments are channeled through this committee but may come from different origins within the company. We try to keep an open mind at all times.
+ In the coming years, what are the main challenges and objectives that TINO Natural Stone pursues in terms of innovation?
We will continue doing our work based on the maxims mentioned above: provide solutions to problems and trends as well as create things that did not exist before in the world of marble and natural stone.
In the future Everything we do will do have to take into account, increasingly the sustainability.
Sustainability is no longer just a trend. Everyting we buy, sell, or manufacture must be sustainable. Sustainability is ceasing to be a choice to become an obligation. The entire the natural stone sector stakeholders need to get into this to mainstream. TINO Natural Stone is already on that path.
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