Producing 6000 million coins for the introduction of the euro

June 17, 2003

For the introduction of the euro, national banks and mints had to produce many times their usual annual supplies of banknotes and coins.

Contributing to this monumental task, EUREKA's COINBLANK project developed the most advanced facility in the world for the production of blank coins. These were supplied to the national mints where the faces were stamped on.

COINBLANK was a joint venture between the Spanish mint (Fabrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre) and Eurocoin, a subsidiary of the German company Deutsche Nickel AG. The two partners set up a joint company, CECO SA, in Spain, to develop the facility and produce blank coins. "Existing capacity in the world was not sufficient for the production of euro coins," says José Francisco Garrido, Purchasing Manager at the Spanish mint. "This new facility [CECO SA] has the flexibility to produce blanks for all eight denominations of euro coins, in three different alloys and finishes, while most existing factories are limited to working with one or two materials."

The numbers involved are staggering. According to Garrido, more than 6000 million coin blanks for euro coins were produced by CECO SA before the launch of the euro. "We had very little time to produce them and it was a real test of the facilities we had developed. Every machine, every installation, had a high level of innovation, research and development, and the preparation for the euro was the final test. The conclusion is in your pocket! The coins were produced on time with the best quality and efficiency," says Garrido.

After the euro was launched, the project faced a new challenge. "We have the best machinery and the best equipment, but now the market has been reduced," explains Garrido. He acknowledges that without the changeover to the euro, the project would not have been necessary. The euro was the ultimate test. Now that test has been passed, the project can look beyond Europe's borders.

"Our facilities are two or three years in advance of the best in the rest of the world, and offer benefits in terms of speed of production, flexibility, low waste and high quality. We are the only factory that can produce coin blanks for any currency, making the world our marketplace," says Garrido.

Garrido describes the most important business lessons he has learned through EUREKA. "If you develop a very good idea, you need to share it with a good partner without fear; if you don't, you will never obtain the full benefits. Europe can be happy to have such a 'high level tool' to drive our national R&D to its limits."

EUREKA is ...
A European network for market-oriented R&D
- strengthening European competitiveness
- promoting innovation in market-oriented collaborative projects
- involving industry, research institutes and universities across Europe
- resulting in innovative products, processes and services.

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