Despite the extremely critical moment, a sense of optimism and the will to get going again remains, underlines Claudio Filippi, Commercial Director of SAOMAD, to whom we put some questions about the business and the current situation.
Unfortunately Covid-19 has overturned all forecasts and projects that a business usually makes at the beginning of the year. Among the goals you had made for yourselves at the beginning of 2020, which ones do you think can still be achieved and which ones should be seen in a long term prospective?
I think that the majority of goals fixed in 2019 for 2020 can still be reached. A conviction that comes first of all from the positivity that I perceive from clients. I have not heard drastic predictions or resignation.
All over Europe there is the will to start again. Some countries are already preparing. Some things will obviously change, but I am sure that in our sector we will get going again quite well, barring last minute hitches.
Both in Italy and abroad, therefore, the outlook remainsoverall positive.
It is a difficult scenario, but we see positivity. It’s a moment that will make businesses reflect on how to invest. If a producer of woodendoors and windowswants to invest in new machinery, he will find himself choosing between traditional solutions that require the presence of staff, with the risk of having to shut down and stop production if faced with emergencies like this one, or machines that can also work on unattended shifts, allowing the company continuous production. Something we have been guaranteed by the Mazak machine we bought last year.
Woodpecker, too, can work without supervision: a key factor in guaranteeing continuous productivity, as you just underlined. Which other suggestions would you give a potential client so that he can choose the model best suited to his company?
Choosing the most suitable model depends on the goals of the producer. I might point out that another aspect to take into consideration is man-machine interface, which in Woodpecker is very intuitive and fast. Our machines today offer a high level of autonomy. They are very safe and reliable.
With work centres of this kind,I would say that it is best to have them operated not by someone who can make a door or window, but by someone able to set up and manage the window project. Rather than a carpenter or a mechanic able to install and uninstall tooling, a CAD/CAM operator that knows about quality control should be preferred.
A machine only needs to be loaded and unloaded, so it requires partial human intervention. Automation today is very prevalent and electronicsare essential – we might better refer to mechatronics.
Going back to my previous answer, nowadays a producer of doors and windows has to invest in “smart” technology, where an operator doesn’t necessarily have to be there next to the machine, but can plan months of future work from the office or from home.
How does SAOMAD differ from the other manufactures of work centres?
SAOMAD is a sector manufacturer. For more than half a century it has been producing machines for only one sector, wooden windows. Production is entirely in-house, so the company can boast very specialised know-how.
Apart from this, we differ because of our capability to constantly and promptly renew our machinery according to the latestavailable developmentsin IT and electronics. Woodpecker is always up to date with the latest technology available on the market. Other manufacturers, bigger and more structured, with a wide range of products, cannot achieve the same speed and consistency.
SAOMAD, thanks to considerable investments in research and development, is able to update in real time everything that is updatable. This is also reflectedinour ability to customise the work centres, compared to the big companiesthat tend to be more standardised.
Another aspect that makes a difference is our excellent knowledge of the final product.We are very well acquainted with the wooden window. I repeat,for over half a century we have been working with this product.
At the moment the firm is partially closed, but I imagine that you are reflecting and working towards an opening that seems to be imminent. What suggestions would you like to give to your clients so that they can restart in the best possible way?
Think carefully about which investments should be made. Rethink the production flow and organisation of the company. To some degree, this is imposed on usby the new rules on distance and safety, but it could be a chance to get a clearer vision of the whole and thus to restart with greater efficiency.
In your opinion what will the producer of wooden doors and windows of the future look like?
It will be a “smart factory”. We will see the practical application of Industry 4.0. Staff will have higher skills under all aspects. There will certainly be moreautomation and robotics. But this will not mean lower quality.
A robot guarantees a consistency and reliability that a human cannot, keeping the quality level constant. A machine can give good or bad results – it depends on how it is designed, programmed and monitored.
And the machinery dealer of the future?
In the last decade the big companies have aimed at direct management of the market, both for sales and services. This is an understandable strategy, but we must underline that having a good dealer on the spot offers you better knowledge of the marketand better presencewithin the territory, thus giving you a degree of tranquillity.
Not all clients recognise the value of dealers because they have a cost, a mark-up on the machine. Sometimes the end client thinks he is saving by going direct to the manufacturer. This is true, but may not be so true in the after-sales phase. If well organised, a dealer can give the door and window producersuggestions, not only on the machine, but also on production flow. He can offer some solutions and perspectives that the producer may not see. I think that the dealer is essential for the market and I believehe will remain so also in the future.
Finally, what message you would you like to send to SAOMAD clients?
I invite them to wait with optimism, despite everything. When things reopen, there will be a great desire to act and this will make the difference. This is without doubt a very critical moment, which may go on for several months, for more than a year, but we know that there will be a time limit, we know it will end. Let’s say that in these past months we have turned the volume down, but the music has still been playing all the same. We have to turn the volume back up. I am very hopeful.