Alessandro Scalici has succeeded Lino Pastore in the presidency of Ucisap

Alessandro Scalici, Neo-elected President of Ucisap and co-owner of Pantostamp

The handing over from the number one of Ucisap, Italian Association of precision Moulds, dies and tooling manufacturers, the retiring Lino Pastore, to the hands of his successor, Alessandro Scalici, has the full characteristics of a transition lived and managed in the name of continuity.

A factor of coherence and complementarity between the two Presidencies is also represented by the figure of the general manager of the Association of precision moulds, dies and tooling manufacturers, Giovanni Corti.

The latter has been entrusted by Pastore with a role that has gained growing importance in time, so that Scalici intends to conserve and to enhance his organization and communication prerogatives. What certainly introduces a disruptive element is the background that frames the two successive elections.

Lino Pastore, retiring President of Ucisap and sales manager of the Brianza Giurgola Stampi

Pastore, sales manager of Giurgola Stampi, headquartered in Brianza, made his debut in 2012 and therefore in a time when the shocks and the effects of the serious crisis exploded in 2008-2009 were still perceivable with their full strength.

On the contrary, the co-owner of Pantostamp – headquarters at Opera, in the West periphery of Milan – today witnesses a radically changed context. The recovery signs exist and are going to consolidate, the selection that unavoidably affected Italian mould and die makers has perhaps spared only the most innovative, advanced and structured companies among them.

This does not mean that the new-president’s task is facilitated. Not at all. In fact, also the boosts to innovation – above all: the provisions for Industry 4.0 and the more and more massive presence of the factory automation – issue as many challenges. All these subjects – and still others – were the core of an interview with both protagonists.

 

What is the heritage of the Presidency of Lino Pastore and what the future prospects of Ucisap?

Lino Pastore: The outcome of my presidency shows lights and shades. Starting from the most critical aspects, I think that the themes of the broadmindedness and sharing of initiatives and problems – in one word: of participation – have not always had the welcome they deserved and that I hoped.

Besides, I regret of not having succeeded in enlarging the base of associated companies, as I wished, even if we took some undeniable step forwards. However, it is worth reminding that when the capability of acting and presenting ourselves collectively has become true, for instance on the occasion of exhibitions and events with an international scope, then results have been more than satisfactory.

For this reason, I believe that, on the whole, both Ucisap’s visibility and its relationships with enterprises have strengthened.

Alessandro Scalici: I believe that in the course of his three mandates Lino Pastore has carried out an excellent work, from which I have learnt a lot and which will be a reference point for the undersigned, too. Both his entrepreneurial spirit and his commercial trait have been evident; the stress on communication and collaborations has been strong and fruitful.

The activity of the director Giovanni Corti has been precious in this context: he has brought great prestige to Ucisap-brand, establishing agreements with sector companies and suppliers, and promoting the participation in relevant events. The collective participation in exhibitions, in the wake of foreign colleagues’ models, is heritage of Pastore’s presidency, of whom I share the constructive criticism of mould and die makers.

They miss the capability, or perhaps the will, of getting involved and of approaching colleagues-competitors without fear but instead believing in the validity of the respective products. Only in this way it is possible to create the synergies that allow growth and mutual enrichment.

 

Today the great theme is Industry 4.0: how are mould and die makers approaching it?

LP: The misunderstanding to be overcome resides in a concept that equalizes, actually, Industry 4.0 to the introduction of the automation in toolshops. In my opinion, currently still few mould and die makers can understand that it is, instead, a new idea of production.

Other key point are the interfaces and the systems that enable the collection of machine data. They can collect an enormous amount of data but if they miss the capability of reading, processing and interpreting them correctly, releasing them publicly inside enterprises to introduce work roadmaps based on targets, neither the collected information are very useful.

Incentives are a benefit, provided that we use them to become better structured and stronger, and added-value is supplied to customers. The point is we need trained people not to manage automation but the processes of a factory 4.0, in virtue of a precise planning.

AS: The initiatives by the Italian Ministry for the Economic Development are of absolute interest but, as far as I have ascertained, also of difficult interpretation.

It is not always simple to understand what solutions are encompassed in the scope of 4.0 and within what thresholds a self-certification can be sufficient to authorize the access to amortizations. We risk the diffusion of sanction fears that would frustrate all valid contents of Calenda Plan.

Besides, I agree with Pastore about the fact that today only few firms look at the overall scenario, just considering tax reductions. The danger is that they lose sight of the main goal, i.e. the enhancement of efficiency and the real benefits of digitalization.

 

In your opinion, is automation a real menace for the labour force?

LP: Automation is part of the cultural, and not only manufacturing, revolution that is in course today and if operators, or companies themselves, are sometimes hardly able to accept new dynamics, this happens because it is often difficult to transpose and to process the change. Speaking not as retiring president but instead as representative of Giurgola, I remind that doubts and fears were not missing, for instance, when a robotic isle was introduced.

Then, perplexities vanished when we started a recruitment plan and the benefits provided by the optimization and the improvement of work conditions were visible for all. It was not necessary to start a dedicated training programme but we certainly provided for transmitting opportune boosts and spurs to workers.

Automation calls for a surplus of technique and knowledge, useful to manage machinery programmed to produce more. Therefore, often, the number of operators on machine board increases instead of diminishing.

AS: From my personal point of view, automation is essentially a competitive edge and the Association is trying to explain this, participating in events that illustrate the characteristics of the approach 4.0 in its whole, with partners’ contribution.

In other words, we are trying to speed up the theme and, concerning this, a higher involvement of members would be desirable, if not dutiful. Because introducing automated isles and systems may seem simple but it becomes instead complicated when you are not supported by the propensity for an important cultural leap.

Technologies must be adopted and exploited at best by small toolshops, too, without fear: they increase the operator’s responsibility and this makes us think that the man-machine relationship will remain indivisible.

What is the health state of the mould and die sector, in a time when the big crisis seems behind?

LP: Since the times of my first mandate, and even before, I have witnessed an evolution of Italian mould and die makers, which has however been determined by market dynamics, then by the crisis. Those backed by the means and the skills to turn troubles into opportunities have grown whereas a big number of the others have been compelled to change their activity, to shutdown or to be taken over by bigger realities.

The change has been imposed to us, the broadmindedness has allowed some of us to benefit from it, developing and achieving efficiency, through computerization and automation, too. At the same time, the flaws of a certain Italian mentality, which does not consider the long-term-planning, have emerged.

Our flexibility is a quality, if it is integrated into a coherent structure. Working well in emergency conditions is another plus, but in a time like the current one, characterized by the rise of domestic and foreign job order flows, we need stability, and a further reorganization.

Even if undoubtedly determined by external elements, like precisely the crisis, the evolution has taken place and it is visible at our colleagues’. (Alessandro Scalici)

AS: Even if undoubtedly dictated by external elements, like precisely the crisis, the evolution has taken place and it is visible at our colleagues’. It has been very tiring and it is still burdensome to be managed but, at the same time, it has allowed many to attain more methodology, precision and compliance with established terms.

My personal experience, the criticalities of the daily job of an entrepreneur, suggest that the change involves both the head and the body of companies and it is not a simple and linear process at all. However, it is unavoidable and provides the advantage of teaching us how to turn to resources that perhaps we already own but that need optimization.

 

Training was one of the central themes of Lino Pastore’s mandate. What outcomes have been attained and how do you think, Scalici, of further implementing what done until now?

LP: Education was a central issue of my mandate and, apart from the relationships with schools, the attempt was also to convey an authentic managerial mentality to Italian enterprises. To create it, it is necessary that companies get involved, because institutes can provide the foundations of culture and must prepare young to absorb new knowledge.

The capability of training young students and of making them choose staying in toolshops, in technical offices that nowadays are comparable to real research and development poles, strongly depends on the mentality and, once more, on entrepreneurs’ culture, and we must work at that. A matter of planning is at stake again because it allows orienting the useful competences for industry.

AS: The scarce diffusion of basic technical skills certainly represents a problem, especially when we think of the generational turnover that Italian mould and die makers need. Despite the initiatives in which Ucisap has taken part, the mould and die-matter remains almost neglected in the study courses of technical institutes but the most serious problem is another and consists in the shortage of a planning culture that looks at the future. For this reason, the stress on the education of managerial type must be strengthened.

 

What is the state-of-the-art of Italian toolshops’ internationalization course?

LP: The Italian industry’s history is characterized by internationalization and the data on the export’s successes in the mould and die sector are a further demonstration. Today more than ever, exporting is necessary and opportunities abound, as we all the financing funds and plans provided by central institutions, by regions and Europe.

However, we often do not know how to benefit from them and how to use them, because, to acquire information and take advantage of suitable resources, we need skilled personnel to do that, then to organize a structure. Otherwise, the risk is of operating abroad without strategies, not knowing what to do. Business networks are another weapon at our disposal and they represent a different more advanced entrepreneurship model, also to compete with that menace that, owing to reshoring, policies, will be soon embodied by East Europe nations.

AS: Our national structures are too often excessively essential and they lack a commercial force up to the task, both in foreign Countries and in the homeland, even on the phone. We need to invest with conviction in all that, because it is the real cornerstone.

Anyway, I think that positive signs, in that direction, are not missing. Let us just consider the growth of the collective participation in international exhibitions, which highlights a made in Italy whose technological excellence is acknowledged. We must take advantage of foreign customers’ perception of Italian moulds and dies and, why not, of the human factor, which neatly favours us.

Also because several parties warn that in Italy negotiations about estimates are exhausting and few are the customers deserving real interest. Finally, concerning aggregations, they will be an important presence in my mandate, too, in full continuity with what accomplished by Pastore. However, I would like that we were able to overcome certain narrow-minded logics, to get ready for a real sharing.

What are today, and what will be in the next future, the most important customer-sectors?

LP: The automotive industry is still driving not only for mould and die makers but because it is pioneer of international manufacturing production trends and allows understanding what directions markets are following. Also for this reason, – and the reasoning concerns automotive as well as white goods or other sectors, too – I believe we should observe with utmost attention the entry of big capitals and related investments in the regions of the former socialist Bloc.

On the contrary, rather than as a menace China appears as a bugbear – still unable to free its potential in the homeland – in the export of moulds and dies, and not only. The problem is that while Italians were moving in mass to Shanghai and Beijing, attracted by the Country’s potentialities, Chinese enterprises started their purchasing campaigns in Europe, embracing the pros and cons of the free market. And this is a serious reason of concern.

AS: Pantostamp has always been widely present in the packaging field, where the competitiveness of Italian moulds and dies is undisputed, despite the strenuous competition of German colleagues. The latter probably fear the Asian menace whereas I think that Europe, and under certain respects Italy itself, will remain driving.

The packaging has specific features and needs high performances we can grant; it features a degree of refinement and complexity the Asian moulds and dies cannot boast, yet. I agree then with Pastore that we must keep an eye on East Europe.

The automotive industry is still driving not only for mould and die makers but because it is pioneer of international manufacturing production trends. (Lino Pastore)

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