Italians in control18 May 2018
Sotiris Kanaris visits Italian radio remote control manufacturers and discusses recent innovations and the state of the market.
As analysed in Italy-focused features in the previous editions of the magazine, the country has a strong tradition in crane manufacturing. Inevitably this has resulted in the development of a local supply chain as well as a market for related products, like radio remote controls.
The four remote control manufacturers included in this article are situated in the North East of Italy, a short driving distance from each other. Similar to the crane manufacturers they are focusing on international markets, while maintaining the whole design and assembly process within their Italian facilities.
A common characteristic among the four companies is that their first products were destined for the construction sector. Over the years, they have expanded their portfolio in order to serve a wide range of applications, such as agriculture, logistics, industrial lifting and automation, mining, maritime and forestry.
Diversification allows them to decrease the effect on their business from fluctuations in demand of individual industries. For example, they have witnessed a reduction in volumes sold for construction related applications in recent years, such as radio remote controls for tower cranes, but experienced an overall growth in sales and turnover. Despite the fall in demand, construction still remains an important sector for these manufacturers.
A market that they are increasingly looking into is the one of hydraulic machines. This is a more challenging market, as the functions needed to be performed by the remote controls are more complex. There are already products in the market for these applications, but the manufacturers are investing more resources into enhancing their offering.
Customers requesting products for hydraulic applications are also likely to demand high levels of customisation.
These manufacturers have broad experience with customising products, as customers often require features that are not offered in the standard editions of the units in order to meet the demands of the applications they need the remote control for.
The technicians assess the client specifications and the vast majority of times are able to create the product that the customer requested.
Apart from diversifying their portfolio, they have changed strategy in terms of production in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The lean production concept is popular within the industry, as it allows the reduction of waste and shorter delivery times.
It is an industry that strongly relies on people for the assembly process, with the process being organised in a way to limit errors to the maximum.
Understanding the importance of their products to safety at a job site, these manufacturers pay particular attention to testing, employing experienced technical staff to supervise this process. Many employ independent organisations to test and certify the quality of their products, like TÜV.
Overall Europe is the strongest market for the Italian control manufacturers, but they are exporting to all the continents. It is surprising that some companies are exporting a respectable amount of units to China.
The four companies are optimistic about the future of their businesses, targeting even further increases in the number of units sold and the markets they export to.