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It started some 30 years ago... today the innovative group in the sector of mold engineering solutions, with a global presence across three continents is a leading partner on international markets, and according to its own motto - always “one step ahead”. In an interview, given the Manufacturing Journal by Luís Febra from the SOCEM Group, we had the opportunity to learn a bit more about the successful company, its origins and mission, its values and the key to success.

How it all came to be
The SOCEM project was launched in 1986 by a group of enterpreneurs, seeking to create a manufacturing venture focused on mold engineering solutions in plastic industry. The big milestone was the year 2001, when the company, once established in the own country made the first step towards going global – by building a new plant in Brazil. Fourteen years later a next subsidiary followed: this time in Mexico. Today, the SOCEM Group with its headquarters in Martingança (the Portuguese district of Alcobaça), has a global presence in three continents, with strategic points in Europe – Portugal (tooling and service division in Martingança and production division in Pombal) and Czech Republic (advanced customer assistance in Letohrad); America – Brazil and Mexico (tooling and service divisions); and Asia – China (LCC tooling support), representing the value of its brand all over the world. Among its most important operation markets we’ll find Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, Mexico and United Kingdom.

SOCEM Group - services, people, strategy and mission
Today, the SOCEM Group is an empresarial group with a vast experience in the mold sector, composed out of several different enterprises: SOCEM LDA (1986), SOCEM MS (1996), SOCEM ED (1997), SEP-TEC (1998), SPIM (1999), SOCEM Brasil (2001), MAXIPLÁS (2006), SOCEM INPACT (2006), SOCEM ED - Try-out Center (2013), SOCEM ITS (2015) and INOTOOLING (2015). They offer search and supply of engineering solutions and cross-industry services for molds and plastics. The main industries and operation sectors are automotive and electrical sectors, household appliances and items, as well as packaging. The Group is composed of young, flexible and dynamic individuals, the majority of them being under 35. This multicultural team of 438 employees, lots of them graduates with masters degree or higher, shows a unique approach to present and future markets. SOCEM counts however also with staff members, who have a great asset of staying already for a long time in the stuctures and having passed through different branches provide the clients with simple solutions to complex problems. SOCEM presents itself to potential business partners and customers as a “Solution Provider”, beginning with the design of the product, passing through engineering and production of prototypes, up to the construction of molds and support tools. Innovation, Design and Creativity are part of the company’s DNA. These are the factors that allows SOCEM to realize its ideas and obtain great results.

The most important mission and focus of the company consist currently in:

  • Developing mold engineering solutions that increase the productivity as well as ensuring quality standards and reducing costs throughout the mold cycle;
  • Developing the injection area for high added-value plastic parts, with resources for technological innovation;
  • Innovating at the level of the final product as the focus of the use of group engineering.
  • Reinforcing the integration of knowledge of molds and plastics, in a logic of producing plastic parts with greater technological content.

Technologies, investments & vision for the future
The Group is widely known for its commitment to new technological and scientific solutions. Equipped with modern technology of finest quality stays at the forefront, assuring the highest levels of competitiveness and guaranteeing quality and efficiency of the production processes. SOCEM always invests in top equipments and development of the working process. All of the production companies of the SOCEM Group made during the last 3 years investments in new technologies. Some new industrial buildings have been constructed reinforcing this way the production capacity and improving working conditions for all of the staff members, giving special attention to the social aspect (opening a restaurant and a fitness centre in the industrial hub in Martingança). The strive for continuous quality improvement and innovation is the real focal point of SOCEM. In 2019 the company plans to finish the construction of a new production unit for molds up to 30T, being this the last investment this year in the area of molds. Soon it will also invest into new drilling machines and straightening presses. In terms of digitalization SOCEM is developing a software of integral management, where every staff member can get, consult and add information regarding the already developed projects or those being actually worked on. The platform also includes some new technologies related to artificial intelligence with the usage of mathematical algorithms for automatic planning and budgeting calculations. The most important plans for future investments are as follows: Still in 2019 SOCEM wants to start with the enlargement of the company, so that in 2020 it could cover the triple of the now existenting space and create a new, modern, robotized storehouse with AGV (automated guided vehicle). The company is also going to invest in six -axle robots, capable of tasks performed usually by man. This way, fully automatic closed production units can be created, without any human intervention during the whole production process. In the period 2019–2021 the company will have invested the overall amount of over 16M€ million euros. In 5 years SOCEM GROUP has the ambition of being internationally known as one of the most advanced groups in offering technological solutions with high added value, in design and production of molds and injection of plastic parts.

Clients and Suppliers
Among its clients we will find the biggest multinationals and global players, these being companies like: Set Europe, Kasai, Novares, Reydel, Bosch, AD Plastik, Brose, AIS, Kautex, Preh, HellermannTyton, Kongsberg, Valeo, Faurecia, Zanini, SCANIA and VW. SOCEM has always seen his customer as being in the very center of its business. The company focuses on building long term relationships and on offering customer-oriented solutions. It stays loyal to both clients and suppliers and generates high added value, features that make the image of the company and ensure its competitiveness and continuous customer satisfaction. Seriousness in the relationship toward everybody involved is one of the central themes for the enterprise, as well as loyalty in the daily atitude toward the partners, the local community, the environment and the expectations of the stakeholders. The main values for the SOCEM family are Seriousness, BOldness, Congruence, Enthusiasm and Memory.

Certification and Social Responsability projects
SOCEM Group holds various awards and certificates that strengthen the sense of responsability for the company. One of the most important certificats are those from ISO: Certification ISO 9002 - one of the first in the molds in Portugal, and ISO 9001:2015/IATF 16949:2016. Another important achievement to mention is the recognition of being one of the most inspiring European companies –an award obtained from the London Stock Exchange (2017). Each year some of the enterprises forming the Group are also presented with the Prize PME Leader and PME Excellence. Social Responsability: 2012 is the birth year of the initiative the SOCEM Volunteer Group, that currently counts with almost 30 people who have been developing actions and campaigns contributing to the improvement of the surrounding community. According to the ideals of the Group “social responsibility is neither a fashion or a question focused on institutions, it is a question of citizenship!”.

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