In 2020 Ferrarini & Benelli celebrated 55 years in business, but due to the pandemic, celebrations have been subdued
We met Claudia Benelli, General Manager of Ferrarini & Benelli, based in Romanengo, Cremona, Italy, to ask her about the achievements of the company so far, as well as future goals.
Ferrarini & Benelli, leading company in the field of Corona and Plasma surface treatment systems, in 2018 received the Felix Industry Award for being amongst the best performing Small and Medium Enterprises of Lombardy and best Small Enterprise in the Province of Cremona.
Face to face with Claudia Benelli, General Manager of Ferrarini & Benelli
In 2015, you celebrated 50 years in business and last year marked another anniversary. What have been the biggest news over these last five years?
“We have worked in different directions: business-wise, we have strengthened our presence in foreign markets, by fortifying partnerships with numerous agents in many countries, to better assist our customers worldwide and by working alongside our major international manufacturers (OEM), who install our solutions on their lines.
As far as technological development is concerned, the pandemic has forced us to take big steps to offer our customers excellent technical assistance and reduce the distance separating us from them, which is not an easy feat. Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 have become pillars of all our projects. We have never stopped searching for sustainable materials and production processes; alongside other five companies, we took part in the i-Label project, dedicated to the manufacturing of a smart and sustainable label, that reduces waste and “talks to consumers” providing them with important information about the product”.
You have recently exhibited at Virtual Drupa. How did it go?
“Virtual Drupa is the first digital exhibition we have taken part in and as such, it is surely a new experience, even though we have been Drupa exhibitors for a very long time. The virtual showroom has given us the opportunity to reveal our latest projects, like our product videos, which form part of an innovative content marketing strategy. We have created videos about our top-selling products, which can illustrate, in just a few minutes, the technical features, applications and advantages offered by our solutions. For us, all of this stood as an important showcase and it granted us the chance to gain visibility from numerous international representatives from the printing sector. We have seen interest and received many positive feedbacks about our videos”.
Do you believe that digital exhibitions will replace live ones?
“Digital exhibitions have become a great way to receive exposure and they have been the only available option due to the pandemic, which has forced us to face unprecedented circumstances. However, a digital exhibition cannot totally replace a live one. In the future, we may see an increase in the number of hybrid exhibitions, part digital, to show customers our solutions through images or videos, and part live. We wish to be able to go back to live exhibitions, complying with every safety protocol to meet our customers and interested operators in person”.
Virtual Drupa has not been the only digital experience in which the company has taken part. Can you tell us about the others?
“Towards the end of 2020, I took part, as speaker and sponsor, in the Streaming Roadshows: they are a live event series organised by Acimga (Italian Manufacturers’ Association) and the Italian Trade Agency, involving manufacturers and representatives from the printing, converting and packaging fields from Turkey, the U.K., Egypt and Algeria. We enjoyed this format so much, that we joined the webinar on i-Label, and the one on the advantages of flexo printing technology especially concerning Africa and the Middle East, a few weeks ago. These events have been very significant for us: they have allowed us to gain exposure, to keep up with the latest trends and to develop new communicating formats, suitable for many diverse contexts”.
Tell us about a new project you are working on.
“We are developing an innovative generator, which is following all the latest trends in terms of Industry 4.0 for our Corona surface treatment systems. The generator is called Evo Smart and it comes with a touch-screen display for an immediate visualisation of its main parameters on laptops, tablets and smartphones; additionally, it provides the customer with a speedy and customised technical support service, even remotely”.
In addition to digitalisation and Industry 4.0, sustainability is being a very hot topic. How does Ferrarini & Benelli incorporate sustainability in their day-to-day operations?
“The company is investing more and more in sustainability; the entire company, from the office to production runs on photovoltaic power. Our corona surface treatment solutions come with ozone destroyers, to eliminate the ozone generated by the corona discharge and allow customers to remain below the threshold set by the law regarding the emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere. On the other hand, plasma treatment does not generate any ozone. We also listen carefully to our customers, who more and more often employ sustainable production processes and materials, such as water-based or solventless inks. Compared to “traditional” inks, they represent a much more sustainable option, but also require much higher surface tension levels. Our solutions, directly installed in line with the customer’s production avoid useless and costly waste. Moreover, the projects and organisations we join, such as i-Label or LE2C – Lombardy Energy Cleantech Cluster, boost growth, innovation and sustainability inside the Lombardy production system”.
What do you think are the biggest challenges Ferrarini & Benelli will have to tackle in the future?
“More and more customers are looking into more sustainable production processes and materials as a way to reduce costs and waste and we will need to adapt accordingly. In addition to this, customers want to avoid interrupting production during maintenance and cleaning operations. It is a challenge we are already facing, by developing and designing innovative solutions, tailored for our customers, in order to not only cut waste, but also manufacture a high-quality product.
Another challenge will be giving prompt and effective remote technical support. We are developing an increasingly more and more efficient and flexible service to respond to every customer’s need, and offer assistance everywhere. Digitalisation and the internet can help us achieve this goal. We also cannot disregard the importance of communication: we have seen that social media channels, the internet and digital communication are crucial, but having the right kind of content is key. 55 years of experience are the source we get content from to talk about surface treatment and its applications to customer service. We will have to keep up with the digital word, as it grows and changes at incredible speeds. A fun ride, for sure!”