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Automation, evolution and training are the three keywords to outline the future. Stefano Porcellini, Biesse managing director Group, shows how to act, passing through Internet of Things and the widespread presence on the territory.
Looking back, what were the top three milestones in the company's history?
«The Mechatronics Division of Biesse operates completely independently and also markets the products outside of Biesse organization. This activity has pushed us time and again, as we receive a variety of feedback and requirements, which are then incorporated in the implementation of our machines. These are customers from a wide range of industries, not just the wood sector. On the whole, it is an advantage not to have to buy important machine components such as electric spindles, but to be able to handle / co-engineer the further development and production itself. It's the same with the software and the controls, everything is “crucial” to the performance of our products, we develop ourselves. There are not many companies that can do that. We are the only manufacturer in the market bringing together both the power and the intelligence within the group».
In the near future, what are the markets you are talking about?
«A resilient bank will certainly remain Europe and also North America. Russia is re-starting quite well again to develop the business and we also have some hopes for South America, i.e. Brazil. The Turkish market is struggling with problems – more political than economics -, but it is a very strong one, which we firmly believe and count to recover. As it is still going on in a market leader like Australia, since many years, we think we will continue to have good sales figures there».
Do you always approach customers the same way?
«In principle, yes. However, some country branches have very individualized strategies for their sales area. In France, for example, our salespeople work closely with schools and training centers, and future specialists are growing up with the Biesse machines. In Germany, we have the toughest competition, but we still have a completely new branch there. It is one of the most extensive investments in recent corporate history. The new company headquarters is currently being developed on the 6,000 m2 area, which the company names Ulm Campus due to its many educational, training and exhibition options. By moving into this new building, we will more than double the area of our company premises. Therefore, we are providing 1,600 m2 in floor space, on which we will not only have a number of our innovative machines and facilities that has never been there before, but also our software and IoT solutions. We will also provide our customers with a very modern teaching area in the new building, and with-it ideal training conditions. Ultimately, we have set ourselves the goal: everywhere in the world, where there is a customer need, we want to cover it».
What is more in demand at the time: a well-equipped standard machine or larger systems?
«We have the biggest growth in the project business. The demand for individual solutions is noticeably diminishing, networked cells and large-scale projects are the goal of most customers. That's why we invested in software and control in the past, and despite all market volatility, we recognized this development at an early stage. And not only that: it is clear that professionals are becoming more and more of a problem. That is why we have been working for a long time to make our machines as user-friendly as possible and are working on solutions that generally require little manpower. We have invested heavily in recent years, for example in robot handling solutions and automatic transport systems. And we are absolutely competitive in this regard. We also see ourselves in the plant business as a reliable supplier of automated complete solutions».
We have set ourselves the goal: everywhere in the world, where there is a customer need, we want to cover it.Stefano Porcellini, Biesse Managing Director
What are the investment plans for the next few years?
«You are guided by what the market is currently demanding: we will continue to develop software, promote plant construction, and further increase the flexibility of our machines, also for the other business units. Very important is our investment in employees. For years, we have hired new employees and continue to train them on a regular basis to keep them up-to-date. We founded Biesse Academy specifically for this purpose. In order to ensure that all installed machines and plants worldwide function smoothly, we also continuously train service technicians».
What is the current state of SOPHIA?
«We have connected more than 1,000 machines to the IoT platform and have been generating very valuable data for several months. The more machines that are connected, the better we can understand and improve certain connections. SOPHIA builds on "Microsoft Azure" on the solution that has the highest standard and offers a maximum open structure and - also an important aspect - also the highest possible security. Whereby we primarily do not collect customer data that is product-relevant, but application-related data. So how axes move, increase temperatures and the like. Only data that is needed to avoid unplanned downtime, for example».
SOPHIA has the makings to assert itself on the market?
«The goal must be that machines can easily exchange data with the IoT platform. Last but not least we are machine builders, not programmers. That's why we cannot provide an isolated solution for every customer ERP system. But we can create the conditions for an open data exchange. For this reason, we also participate in the working groups of the VDMA woodworking machinery department for the development of an OPC-UA specification for our field of industrial automation. The customer benefits from SOPHIA not only from a predictive service. Instead, the customer receives data that enables them to assess the productivity of a single machine or large system, and gets detailed knowledge of vaious production KPI’s and overall efficiency. The transparency of the machine increases enormously by SOPHIA. And if there really is a problem, then the plant operator can directly access spare parts for the specific machine via their individual access».
An anniversary that’s more than just a celebration. Biesse is celebrating 50 years, but we want to look to the next 50, when the things we imagine today will become who we are tomorrow. Every innovation ever created has stemmed from a yearning for the future and has since become a stepping stone in our history.
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The new edition features a new headline and refined but modern graphics, and will tell the story of the past 50 years of the company, as well as the 50 years that await us. CINQUANTA, intentionally left in Italian, is the key word around which this special edition is centred, celebrating history and imagining the future through a fascinating combination of interviews and customer stories which share a focus on the future, in addition to reflections from the experts, engineers, architects and designers who are already shaping this future.DISCOVER THE NEW ISSUE
Biesse celebrates 50 years of innovation and technology, remembering half a century of history and success, with an irrepressible focus on the future.Go to the special section