Published on: 16/12/2022
A complex 2022 also for the metal cutting segment is about to give way to a potentially rather dynamic 2023. To obtain the opinion of ISTech, a company which has been providing innovative solutions for this segment for over 25 years, we spoke to the company’s managing director, Alessandro Rescaldani.
After a decidedly bright start in most industries, for some companies 2022 seems to be ending with less momentum, due to inflationary dynamics. How did it go for ISTech?
The 2022 closing balance is decidedly positive: forecasts see a consistent increase in turnover, which will be at levels above the pre-Covid period.
Undoubtedly a great help came from government policies to encourage investment, in particular the measures provided by the new Sabatini Law and the Industry 4.0 plan. The latter in particular has been a competitive advantage for Istech, as our sawing machines and plants have long been designed with a 4.0 perspective.
In cutting automation, in particular, our experience and our technological and customisation capabilities are widely recognised by the market. It is certainly the production line which has grown the most this year.
Procurement of raw materials has been complex in this 2022: have you taken steps to avoid repercussions on delivery times, and with what results?
2022 was a difficult year for everyone on the procurement front; we too encountered problems in sourcing different types of components. On the mechanical side, gearboxes, linear guides and a whole range of commercial components were hard to find. On the plant engineering side, there was a lack of electronic and hydraulic components, such as solenoid valves, circuit boards, switches and more.
What helped us was our production and design flexibility, which allowed us to redesign some components, trying to do it in the most modular way possible, so as to have the possibility of choosing, during the production phase, the brand of components easiest to find at that time. Dialogue with suppliers was fundamental in order to understand how to move in this direction.
Finally, as often happens, difficult situations also lead to improving certain aspects: the difficulty of procurement led us to standardise the components as much as possible (for example, adopting the same type of limit switch sensors on the entire cutting system). This standardisation of components has proved advantageous for our customers, who have considerably reduced the variety of spare parts they have to keep in stock.
Which segments have given you the most satisfaction in 2022 and which tailor-made achievements of this year are worth mentioning for their innovative features?
Certainly the automation segment has been the most receptive to our innovations, particularly in the handling of cut parts. We have built increasingly sophisticated systems integrating new functions downstream of the cut. The first plant equipped with a magnetic robotic arm was followed by several others in quick succession. This is a very flexible unloading management solution allowing parts to be sorted and palletised with considerable logistical advantages. It can also manage the workpiece by taking it to the next processing stations. Workpieces can, for example, be taken to a marking station, or weighed to determine how to sort them, and finally placed accurately on pallets.
Improvements have also been made to the flexibility of the equipment’s use, with design solutions allowing workpieces of very different sizes to be handled. It is thus possible to manage, on the same machine, the automatic loading and unloading of very short pieces or shafts up to 3 metres.
From a cutting standpoint, the saws are fitted with adaptive sensors which monitor the machine process, modifying the working parameters.
How were revenues broken down in the different markets, Italy and abroad, for ISTech products?
Italy proved to be our most important and constantly growing market, but we also recorded good results in foreign markets (which for us are essentially the European markets) thanks to the increasingly close and fruitful cooperation with some dealers in specific countries, especially the Scandinavian ones.
What new features are planned for 2023?
We have many projects in the pipeline for the new year, on the product innovation front and beyond.
We are completing a major renovation of our warehouse which will double our office and staff quarters. We are working to reduce our ecological footprint: the new heating system with condensation heater and heat pump will be powered by a photovoltaic system which is being installed in these very weeks and which will meet a large part of our energy needs.
On the product front, we are developing a top line which will further enhance the performance of our flagship range, Power.
New products, factory extensions and innovations in the area of environmental compatibility will go hand in hand with one thing which will remain constant: our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs in the best possible way.