“We don’t dictate customer strategy – we empower it with flexible production. And flexibility is more critical today than ever.”
Mario Cincotta, SVP Italpresse Gauss
These are unprecedented times for the global die casting industry…for all industry. So when the only certainty for many is that there are no certainties, and when global supply chains and core die casting markets are facing a period of rapid evolution, how does a new business leader react?
For Mario Cincotta - the new man at the helm of Italpresse Gauss - there’s only one answer. To focus on helping each customer flex with the changing demands they face to keep their specific competitive advantage. In other words what Italpresse Gauss has always done. But now, it seems, with a new digital twist!
Welcome Mario. You’ve joined Italpresse Gauss at a very interesting time for the business.
That’s for sure. I came on board last year just as Italpresse Gauss was celebrating its 50-year anniversary. Assuming leadership at this point in a company’s development is both an honour and quite a responsibility! Surviving in any industry for over 50 years is one thing, but Italpresse Gauss has not just survived. It has thrived. It’s my job to make sure we continue to do so.
Skip forward to today and we are where we are. It has been difficult, there is no doubt about that. Like many business leaders during Covid19 my priority over recent months has been ensuring the wellbeing of our employees, their families, the communities where we operate, our customers and our suppliers and partners.
It has also been to ensure our range of services and focus on solution development did not stop. It didn’t. In fact, aspects of the lockdown period…the necessity for remote working and digital services to support our customers…has meant we have actually been able to fine tune and enhance many of the Industry 4.0 software and equipment solutions that we’d already been developing.
We had the building blocks in place that are now going to be essential to our customers. Focussing on that is how I intend to keep Italpresse Gauss’ market leading position.
That’s a bold statement, especially given that we were witnessing some massive changes in the die casting industry even before recent events?
It is bold, but it is one I firmly believe because our core proposition so perfectly correlates with current and future market conditions. Lightweighting and the rise of e-mobility were having a huge impact on automotive before COVID-19. This trend - the need for structural, functional, and completely re-imagined parts - will continue. Especially as we are witnessing renewed focus on the environmental credentials of the automotive industry.
Meanwhile, the days of ‘automotive only’ for aluminium are fast fading, the metal’s durability, recyclability and impressive formability is opening up a wealth of design opportunities for part development in a much broader range of sectors. Coupled with emerging opportunities, for instance around the production of high performance, light weight parts for 5G communication technology, one thing is clear: those most able to adapt are most likely to succeed.
This truth has only been magnified further by Coronavirus, with many die casting foundries needing to flex their production (speed, focus, scale), potentially with little lead time, in order to keep pace with demands dictated by how global events continue to develop. Enabling this kind of adaptability is our strength. It always has been. We’re technical engineers; our range encompasses everything from zero force (gravity) solutions to the industry’s first, fully digitally enabled, toggle-free two-platen die casting machine with a massive closing force of 5700 tonnes; our automation capability is flexible enough to accommodate any set-up. My point is, we don’t need to push our customers down any one route because every path is possible. We don’t dictate customer strategy – we empower it with flexible production. And flexibility is more critical today than ever.
You mentioned digital capabilities earlier. Where exactly is Italpresse Gauss on this journey and, more importantly, where are your customers?
I think the industry as a whole is at a pioneering stage – though the learning curve for many just got a lot steeper! Everyone is interested in trying new things but not necessarily sure how or why. Just that digitization is something which can help unlock greater productivity and can also offer that precious flexibility.
Indeed it can. Having a real time picture of how machines, full lines and complete foundries are performing, and being able to automate KPI triggered responses to optimise processes, is a hugely powerful productivity-boosting mechanism. What’s crucial, however, is that every customer is different. What they need – and when they need it - will be different depending on their specific business objectives and desired outcomes.
What we are focussed on right now is ensuring customers can seize the opportunities ahead at a pace, budget, and in a style which suits their individual goals. For us, digital is about pioneering customer-centric solutions. That’s really what drives our R&D in this arena.
Can you say a bit more about how are you doing that exactly?
Making sure all our new equipment is fully IoT enabled is one important building block. Offering NoriGate, a simple innovation which effectively ‘switches on’ this capability in any existing machine – and by that I mean any machine at all, not just ours – is another. Together with our Monitizer suite of solutions, our wider range of digital services, and our proven heritage in engineering and delivering customized automation, customers have the flexibility to see and use the data in new, completely customizable ways. Ways which can drive their die casting set-up forward.
It’s always been in our DNA to be flexible. ‘Digital’ is simply the latest demonstration of that fact. Whatever opportunity our customers want to take, we make sure they can. We can make sure they thrive like we have.
Beyond digital developments - do you see any changes ahead for Italpresse Gauss in terms of being able to deliver on that promise? Is there anything new you are introducing?
It’s important to build a legacy value of the company but at the same time, you can’t stand still. Which is why a lot of my focus is on investing in the future. People and processes that are going to be fundamental to meeting our customers’ emerging needs. I’ve found a lot of talent into the team, in Italpresse and in the wider Norican Group, ready to learn but also keen bring new ideas to the table which I think is exciting and essential for any technology business.
I’m also making sure that we’re matching customer globalization trends, for example by expanding the number and reach of our worldwide service teams; we want the die casting community we work with to see us as a local partner as well as a global leader, so this really is hugely important.
One of the biggest things we offer customers is the knowledge that whatever they need, we’ve got it covered. And with that in mind, we’re also enhancing our project management processes to make sure every stage is truly as efficient and effective as it can be.
Last question. For any potential new customers out there, what would you say is the key difference they will experience working with Italpresse Gauss?
That’s a really interesting question as the answer is really about feeling; about the ‘experience’. Let me add quickly, it’s quite easy to explain. You’ll have heard us talk a lot about ‘comfortable casting’. Well, what makes a customer feel comfortable is knowing that they are working with a supplier who can meet their productivity needs in the foundry. It’s knowing that any new technical innovations they want to try are backed up by years of practical experience in designing, integrating and optimising die casting lines. It’s knowing all bases are covered no matter what happens next.
That’s what’s different. We are flexible enough to make our customers feel comfortable with, and confident in, their choice. A lot will change in the next 50 years – delivering this customer experience is one thing we are committed to.