IEN: Looking back at the 88 years of your company’s history, did you ever experience such a difficult year as 2009, and how did you mange to get through?
Cacciavillani: The 2009 crisis was unprecedented because unexpected, far-reaching and global. Never before had we seen a slump in orders so strong and in countries worldwide, all at the same time. During our 88 years of activity, we had experienced many crises but never so acute. Yet, these past crises had suggested to us the need to create a very flexible productive and managerial organisation, characterised by a structure with few fixed costs and many variables. We have thus introduced a budgetary culture, in order to cope with any crisis, which would provide a strong financial solidity and a catalogue of products, constantly updated, through continuous investments in research and development. The factors which have allowed us to overcome this crisis without consequences were: absence of debts and strong financial assets as well as a range of products ready to satisfy customers, both quality- and price-wise. Moreover, we managed to avoid layoff and resorting to social security provisions, precisely thanks to our very flexible organisation.
IEN: Many companies took the ‘crisis year’ as a chance to further develop their product portfolio and push some significant innovations, which they weren’t able to do when the emphasis lay on a fast delivery to their customers. Is this also the case with Lovato?
Cacciavillani: Lovato did constantly develop its product portfolio, also during years when business was very good. Last year, we did further accelerate our product development program as new products were very important to win new customers and to help compensate for the reduced business that we were making with existing customers. Our 2010 catalogue is made up of 23 product families which incorporate 12,000 different part numbers. Many of our products have innovative features (e.g. graphic LCD, touch-screen, power analyzers). Over the last 20 years, our product development has been ongoing and we do not plan to stop in upcoming years, in order to create a more attention-getting and complete offer for customers.
IEN: Please name some of the most important industries that your products go into.
Cacciavillani: Lovato products are used in many different industries. The most significant ones, at the moment, are: industrial machineries (e.g. packaging, food processing), pump and irrigation systems, lifting and elevator systems, industrial power factor correction, electrical power generation (e.g. generating sets, photovoltaic systems, UPS), energy management. We work with world leaders in the above-mentioned industries: Companies that appreciate high quality products at competitive pricing and the great service and flexibility of a private, family-owned business.
IEN: Geographically speaking, what are the key regions for Lovato Electric products?
Cacciavillani: Italy still remains our most important market even though our penetration in the export business has been growing at a much faster pace. With the establishment of our two subsidiaries in USA and CANADA, North America now represents a very important business area for Lovato. Europe still is a key area for our future growth, especially the East has a great potential for our products. We do have a presence in more than 90 countries. We are well represented through a network of official distributors in the Middle East, South America, Africa and Asia.
IEN: What distinguishes your products from those of your competitors?
Cacciavillani: Some of our products, especially in the “electronic” section of our catalogue, offer unique features. For example, we are launching on the market a new series of energy meters and power analyzers which can be expanded with plug-in modules to increase their functionality when required. Ethernet, USB, RS485, Profibus communication ports, analog and digital inputs/outputs, memory for data logging are just a few of the plug-in modules that can be added to our products. A large graphic display on the units helps the user for a very intuitive programming and for a very easy comprehension of the measurements.
IEN: Could you please name some of the new products that visitors will see at your booth during Hannover Messe?
Cacciavillani: We are presenting at the Hannover Fair our new system dedicated to energy management. Lovato can now offer a complete solution for energy efficiency in industrial and commercial installations. Energy meters, digital instruments, power analyzers, soft starters, AC motor drives, power factor controllers, generating set controllers, automatic transfer switch controllers are some of our products that can help Companies optimise energy consumption. We are also launching our new range of switch disconnectors, from 16A to 1250A, which is now one of the most complete, available on the market. Among others, we do offer versions dedicated to photovoltaic applications (1000VDC) and for change-over applications.
IEN: Being the official partner country of Hannover Messe this year, do you think that the Italian industry will profit from this partnership?
Cacciavillani: Certainly, it is a very important opportunity for the Italian industry to be the official partner of the Hannover Messe, to highlight the progress made by our country in the industrial field. I am sure our government and institutional authorities will be capable of reaching this goal. Lovato has exhibited at the Hannover Messe since 1977 and the fair has always been an important showcase to present our innovations and to build up our presence on the global market.
IEN: What will be the major trends and big issues for electromechanical and electronic components in the near future?
Cacciavillani: Products will need to communicate and be integrated into systems more and more. Products that can help energy efficiency will have a greater influence in the market. Competitive pricing and rapidness will play an even more important role in the market in the years to come. We are very positive about our possibilities in the marketplace as we have always been very competitive with respect to these matters.
Facts & Figures
Employees: 380 worldwide
Headquarters: Bergamo, Italy
Subsidiaries and distributors in over 90 countries
Main products: Motor protection circuit breakers, switch disconnectors, contactors, thermal overload relays, push buttons, limit switches, soft starters, time relays, protection relays, digital multimeters, power factor controllers, automatic transfer switch controllers, etc.