News: Constant training and new markets. This is how we dealt with the Covid-19 emergency. The interview with engineer Gaetano Griso, CEO of Punto Netto, a leading company in non-destructive testing that in 2020 implemented its activities in the Renewable Energy sector, mitigating the working hours lost due to the pandemic and keeping the economic crisis that hit Italy in March at bay.
THE MANAGEMENT OF THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
Mr Griso, how did you manage the Covid-19 emergency within your company and in the delicate activities you continued to carry out in plants around Italy?
"Since the first moments of the Covid-19 health emergency, the company has been attentive to the Ministry of Health circulars and the directives of the local health authorities, and has naturally always applied the March infection containment protocol, keeping it constantly updated and supplementing it from time to time. Our employees, as guests in the various establishments in which they work, have had to comply with very strict entry protocols, in some cases even going beyond what is required by the Ministry. In some companies, in addition to the triage declarations that are carried out on entry, workers had to have a report no older than three days attesting to their negative swab on first entry. Even in one of the factories where we work most frequently, the management identified a system that operates along the lines of contact tracing and, thanks to Bluetooth technology, was able to keep track of each guest's contacts over the last few days. The equipment was assigned as a unique key and applied next to the badge at the entrance".
What strategies did Punto Netto have to put in place to deal with the economic crisis generated by the health emergency that has put the entire metalworking sector in crisis since March?
"The impact of Covid in the metal sector has generated an economic crisis in Italy. We basically had a 50% drop in the volume of hours worked compared to the previous year. Within the automotive sector, the strongest impact was on Italian suppliers and production plants. Yes, because component manufacturers for foreign car manufacturers (French and German above all) have intervened with bonuses and incentives for the purchase of cars up to almost 6 thousand euros. This has made it possible to better support the car market since the end of last spring by reducing the crisis in the sector, accentuated by Covid-19. In Italy, on the other hand, a number of misguided policies have brought to a standstill a sector that, between manufacturers and direct suppliers, generates 20% of the country's gross domestic product. Then the decision to focus most of the incentives on a sector - electric cars - in which Italy has not yet reached full capacity has led many buyers to turn to foreign car manufacturers".
NON-DESTRUCTIVE TESTING IN THE RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR
At the height of the crisis in the automotive sector, however, Punto Netto has made a clear choice of field
"We couldn't just sit back and watch from the window the health emergency end. Rather, we preferred to continue to invest in the training and further qualification of our employees by broadening our scope. We looked at sectors far removed from Automotive and realised that the non-destructive testing that makes Punto Netto a leading company in Italy was also in great demand in sectors such as Renewable Energy. This sector has always been subject to regular and thorough inspections and controls. Our Ateco code, which includes us among the companies that provide engineering services, has allowed us to work with continuity in non-destructive testing, which is fundamental for example in the Renewable Energy sector and specifically in the wind power sector, closing an important order with Leitwind, a leading company in the design, construction and installation of wind turbines with direct drive synchronous generators and permanent magnets. The contract signed with the Vipiteno-based company last spring, and which is still in force, has enabled us to control the rotors and stators in the wind power systems installed in a large area between Campania and Puglia.”
What future do you see for Punto Netto in the next five years?
"The weight and responsibility of the choices we had to make this year will be long remembered. In order to mitigate the effects of an unexpected and unpredictable crisis, we relied on our personnel and payroll department, which did a great job in urging the proper processing of the INPS redundancy fund paperwork and obtaining cheques much more quickly than we often read in the newspapers. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that even in the face of a crisis like this, which has led to losses of up to 50% of working hours, we need to have the courage to recalibrate our company strategies, broadening our scope of action and opening up company resources to different markets. On the one hand, therefore, we have implemented value-added measures such as non-destructive testing in the renewable energy sector and, on the other, we have carried out a precise and prudent remodelling of costs which, however, has not prevented us from confirming, and in some cases increasing, the expenditure dedicated to distance learning for staff and accreditation for the ISO 17020 standard. Ultimately, at this point in time, the move towards periodic inspections, even in other sectors such as wind power, has enabled us to mitigate the loss of working hours and to face the economic crisis with greater serenity.