How a platform links material developers and production plant owners quickly and easily

Judith Hillen

Startup Stories

Anyone who has developed a new material is often faced with the question of how to produce larger quantities for trial without having to invest immediately in their own production facilities. For problems like this, the startup Triangular, which is part of the network of 5-HT, has developed a solution: The Triangular-POD platform matches material owners looking for a plant with suitable plant owners who have spare capacity. Co-director Sylwia Marroquin explains the benefits of this model for both sides in an interview with 5-HT.

Pablo and Sylwia Marroquin, the two managing directors of Triangular
Pablo and Sylwia Marroquin, the two managing directors of Triangular

How did Triangular get started?

Sylwia Marroquin: My husband Pablo worked in sales for a large equipment manufacturer for many years. In contact with the customers he served, he was always confronted with the same questions: Plant owners often have the problem that their capacities are not fully utilized, while material owners are often looking for suitable equipment on which they can produce small quantities of a new material in advance before investing in new equipment themselves. For a long time, Pablo made the connections between plant and material owners by analogy, based on his personal contacts. Eventually, however, the idea arose to develop the Triangular-POD platform for this purpose, in order to make even more connections possible.

What are the benefits of using Triangular-POD for material owners?

It is worthwhile for material owners to search for suitable facilities via our portal if, for example, they have developed a new material and want to make an initial trial production. This way, they can quickly access an already existing infrastructure without the risk of making a bad investment. Material owners who want to increase their capacities at short notice because demand for a particular product is particularly high can also use our platform for this purpose. This way, they don't have to invest in their own plants if they don't yet know whether demand will remain elevated in the long term. Even in the event that a plant is down for several months, material owners can bridge these bottlenecks using our platform to avoid loss of reputation and contractual penalties. Of course, in such cases, material owners could also search for suitable equipment themselves, but this could take several weeks or even months. Our platform makes it quick and easy for them to find the equipment they need.

How do plant owners benefit from registering on Triangular-POD?

When facilities are not operating at one hundred percent capacity, they generate costs but no revenue. Through Triangular-POD, facility owners can broker this spare capacity to equipment owners. Using our platform simplifies this process considerably: nowadays, it is the case that plant owners can only serve a maximum of fifteen out of a hundred requests they receive, because often the desired process or industry does not fit, for example. On our platform, we therefore perform pre-sorting so that plant owners only receive highly qualified inquiries from material owners.

How does Triangular-POD bring material and equipment owners together?

Material owners looking for a suitable plant can upload their material profile on the platform. Our algorithm then matches which of the plants already registered on the platform are suitable for the specific parameters and process requirements. In addition, we intervene with our know-how and our contacts, for example to discuss with the plant owners whether certain parameters could still be adjusted if necessary, or to actively search for new plant owners with our global sales team if no suitable plant is yet listed on our portal for an inquiry. So we see ourselves not only as a platform, but as a service provider, intermediary and trust builder.

The third group Triangular-POD addresses are industry experts. How does Triangular-POD connect these experts with material and equipment owners?

The industry experts can offer their expertise to the material and equipment owners. For example, they can support material owners in their idea realization - because often material owners have an idea, but they lack the necessary knowledge to translate the idea into a process. In addition, they can help equipment owners work on fine-tuning their equipment so they can process new materials. In addition, as we create global linkages between material and equipment owners, we work with experts in logistics who can handle the cross-border transportation of the materials or products.

What industries do the users of your platform come from?

Currently, we are focusing on dry products and processes, i.e. powders and solids. We started in the chemical industry, but we are now also active in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, animal feed, minerals and recycling sectors.

Do you have an example of a successful collaboration that came about through Triangular-POD's mediation?

Triangular POD mediates between material developers, equipment owners and industry experts
Triangular POD mediates between material developers, equipment owners
and industry experts

We had an inquiry from a material owner in the mineral sector in Spain, for whom we found a suitable plant in Poland, with the help of an industry expert from the UK who helped the customer define the process requirements. This partnership, which was originally just a short-term order, has developed into a collaboration between the three parties that continues to this day.

What are the biggest challenges for your startup?

Previously, plant owners were either already well utilized or they used their own network to arrange free capacity. The idea of going beyond the already existing network and also brokering their own plants to other partners is new for many. Therefore, there is some skepticism about testing this model of collaboration. Once asset owners try it out, they do find that it works well, but it will take significant convincing and pioneering before we get to that point.

What are the next goals for Triangular-POD?

We're constantly evolving our algorithm and user interface so that in the future, customers will be able to connect on our platform as intuitively as possible on their own, without needing our interaction. For now, we are focused on growing in the dry process space. In the medium term, however, we would also like to enter the complete process landscape in order to be able to serve a greater variety of partners.

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