At the opening of the Technology Center, we had an update conversation with Luigi De Vito, general manager of Scm Group, about the current situation of the Rimini-based giant, and more generally, the topics that are driving, and sometimes worrying, the wood technology industry.
Luigi De Vito does not like to dwell on details: to him, the topics that are currently driving the wood technology business are indicators, clear signs that reveal much more complex systems that – without a strong business vision – might turn into serious issues. Chatting with him means looking ahead, identifying the potential routes to avoid being trapped into a business approach exclusively focused on the present time, on short-term results.
“Looking at year-on-year trends in our industry can be a mistake”, said De Vito, immediately revealing the direction of our conversation. “In our industry, you have to pay closer attention to trends, being an industrial and economic domain characterized by irregular developments.
We are not seeing a reduction of business opportunities that compares with the reduction of orders, a trend that has been going on since the half of last year. In terms of revenues, 2022 was a record year for us, with a result of 850 million, despite the increase of energy costs and the difficult provisioning of materials and components. We governed the situation, preserving good margins and managing to keep positive relationships with our customers, sharing difficulties as well as strategies.
Most of these revenues, more than 70 percent were generated by the wood division, a sector that continues to represent our business focus, as we believe it will continue to bring great satisfaction.
The year 2023 will close with a further increase in revenues, a double-digit growth as opposed to a “moderate” trend of orders.
We are moving in a scenario where we are getting stronger, as we have learned to create major alternatives to our traditional suppliers, a key strategy to support further growth. The product cost is stabilizing under strong inflation pressure, although it seems clear that the time required to finalize opportunities is extending”.
Which are the strategic assets to invest in?
“Scm is an established business, with a medium-to-long-term vision pursued through targeted investments into the priorities we have identified not only to build the future, but also to immediately increase our market shares as soon as the order flow recovers.
We will keep investing in smart innovation that can be easily implemented by the customer: our mission is to offer the opportunity to choose from a wide range of really innovative solutions, which cater to handicraft businesses as well as large industrial groups.
The second pillar is our pervasiveness, our global footprint aimed at offering effective consultancy. After seventy years in business, we keep moving and growing all over the world; in recent weeks, we have opened a new subsidiary in Vietnam and we will soon inaugurate another one in Slovenia to serve the Balkans, two regions that are increasingly relevant for us. We are investing in many of our subsidiaries, first of all our offices in Germany, Spain and Australia, where we are opening a new “Technology Center” in Sidney in 2024.
The third pillar is the significant investments we have made and will continue to make in our production efficiency and in the digital transformation of our processes, also thanks to the adoption of a “Factory Control System”.
The fourth pillar to build our future is related to the previous two: an increasing focus on and proximity to our customers. The inauguration of our “Digital Control Room” in the “Technology Center” in Rimini is a huge step forward, as it turns our approach to service from reactive to proactive, enabling us to support our customers around the clock, seven days a week, all over the world”.
… you have put many irons in the fire…
“That’s inevitable. And there is another aspect we will not overlook: skills, being expert of what you do, giving continuity to the partnerships with our customers and helping them constantly implement their know-how. For this reason, we have invested in our “Campus”, working on all the stakeholders that bring added value to our technology, wherever they are located around the world.
Our newly inaugurated “Technology Center” is the heart of this system, it represents our vision and shows how we want to carry on our experience with the customer over time. Smart automation, solutions to share new business models, opportunities to integrate their existing technologies into more complete, effective and integrated production systems: an end-to-end experience”.
“Together with digital services, software is another focus of our efforts, both for the logic, the language that drives the components of our machines to operate in harmony and with optimal efficiency, and for the Human Machine Interface, with a totally renovated HMI for all Scm machines that enables the operators to work very easily. Our proximity to and constant interaction with schools and vocational centers helps us closely monitor the needs of future operators, and we started from this to deliver increasingly “easy” tools, especially for cad-cam operations”.
And what about e-commerce? You seem to have created an effective platform…
“E-commerce is a game where we want to be players, not spectators, with a wide and articulated approach: in recent years, we have tripled our investments, and I can tell you that our digital marketing and communication activity now generates between 15 and 20 percent of our business opportunities. It’s a bold game, together with our distribution network and agents, who have understood its value, i.e. providing customers with all the tools that can support them in their decisions, with the methods they consider more appropriate.
E-commerce is one of these, and our vision is not just selling machines, but rather solutions, which means software, services, training… all that Scm can offer, ordering with one click, inside a personal area, any aggregate, spare part or upgrade you have selected. Since the beginning of 2023, we have sold 20 percent spare parts online, a figure that shows the importance of providing customers with self-service options and is proving also very useful for our distributors and resellers”.