The Coronavirus emergency and postponement of DRUPA to the following year have made it necessary for companies in general, and the printing industry in particular, to review and revise their industrial planning and budgets. We therefore wanted to take a closer look at some of the issues involved with someone who is witnessing developments in first person; the CEO of Smyth S.r.l, Sabrina Pronotto. Smyth Sr.l. is a leader in postpress machines for offset and digital book printing.
Dott.ssa Pronotto, a question to kick off that is maybe not as trivial as it sounds; how are you?
Triviality sometimes brings us back down to earth. However, I’m fine thanks.
We saw that Smyth was one of the first companies, if not the first, to decide of its own accord to close, given the way the COVID-19 emergency was developing. What made you take such a courageous, if drastic, decision?
A strong sense of responsibility towards the people who work for me, and their families. It’s a value that all companies should adopt and certainly a fundamental element of those companies and their owners that I respect and admire. Such people live the company day in day out in first person. They are deeply committed, deeply passionate and have a deep sense of duty. They try their best to dedicate as much time as possible to the company, as if it were part of their family.
Was it an easy decision for you to take?
I believe it was one of the clearest and most resolute decisions I have taken in recent years. It was also the most logical decision to take in order to help our national health system, which needs the support of each and every one of us to deal with this emergency.
How do you feel about those companies which have, on the other hand, decided to carry on working?
It we are talking about those companies that have been requested to stay open because they are producers of essential goods for the community then I feel they deserve our admiration and support – as long as it is done in compliance with the law and safety legislation. Industrial continuity certainly helps convey a sense of normality – as far as possible – in such a complex time as the one we are living through at the moment.
How do you expect to manage the days of voluntary closure at Smyth?
The company will follow the guidelines laid down by the government decrees concerning taking vacation time early and accrued paid leave. Then we will obviously take any necessary action should there be subsidies, tax relief or social security benefits to support us.
How do you intend to manage this temporary closure and how long do you expect it to last?
We have the opportunity to use a range of modern business supports, not to mention smart working. This means we can organize the team to guarantee activities such as sales, customer care and spare parts. And so, we can ensure we stay in touch with our customers, either by phone, email or Skype.
As far as timelines are concerned, I can confirm that the measures we have put in place will stay in place for long enough to ensure worker safety is safeguarded. Then we will look at the health service guidelines issued on a weekly basis and decide if and when it is safe for us to return to the workplace.
How do you see the decision to postpone the Drupa international trade fair to April 2021?
I believe it is a decision that is both understandable and correct because conditions cannot currently guarantee the success of such an important trade fair for our industry. As manufacturers and exhibitors, we’ve been looking forward to this event. We had planned and put in a lot of hard work and commitment into dealing with the work orders we had received and all the new products we were going to be presenting at Drupa.
This is why we are putting the finishing touches to some events that we will be holding over the coming months. These will be dedicated to presenting some exciting new developments to the market and our customers will have a golden opportunity to have a look at our new finishing solutions. We want to use these events to highlight the importance of putting your trust in a product that is, as our motto goes, 100 percent “Made in Italy” and, most of all, “Made in Smyth”.
Can you give us a hint of what is in the pipeline?
We will be presenting four new systems designed to both speed up and simplify book block sewing operations for both digital and offset printing.
The new DX-70 BLUE WEB system is one of the innovations I would like to mention in particular. It is the result of a joint partnership with Tecnau and adopts some cutting-edge technical solutions that make it not only ideal for any specific requirements of reel-fed digital printing but is also fiercely competitive in terms of costs. As part of our digital printing products, although sheet-fed, we will also be presenting the new release of DIGITALINE. This is a folding and sewing line equipped with an automatic vertical stack feeder hooked up to our brand-new FF-70 4D automatic sewing machine. We introduced this integrated system into the market in 2010 and it sold extremely well. So, we are re-releasing it in a new restyled version complete with the addition of some unique operating features that make it something quite special.
However, no presentation of new products would be complete without the addition of offset printing production. We are the inventors of “Smyth sewn” technology and have been pioneering automated gathering and sewing solutions for over one hundred years. In actual fact, the very first gathering and sewing line was installed by us in the UK over thirty years ago and we will soon have the pleasure and honour to present the new UNIT sewing line to the market. UNIT is a truly innovative integrated system consisting of a horizontal bidirectional gatherer connected in-line to a top-of-the-range SMYTH FF-280 4D sewing machine. The line’s range of innovative automation systems makes it a perfect solution for even the most challenging offset printing production requirements.
I would like to finish this short presentation with a brief overview of X-TREME, our brand new automatic high-speed stapler.
This is an ambitious project that we are particularly proud of. It took all the professionalism, expertise, experience and dedication of our engineering staff and technicians – not to mention two years of hard work – to achieve what must be our most ambitious project to date. We are always ready for a challenge, and always on the lookout for the best production systems available to offer customers. In this respect, the remarkable functionality and ground-breaking technical features of X-TREME will for sure represent a real landmark for the company.
And so we look forward to seeing everyone soon, knowing that once we manage to return to ‘business as usual’, we will be back to doing what we do best; designing our projects, manufacturing dreams, and developing the company. Safe in the knowledge that, as the rallying cry for this difficult period goes, “TUTTO ANDRA’ BENE” (EVERYTHING WILL TURN OUT JUST FINE)