5 questions to:
Nico Valiani

by Luca Salvadori

We interviewed Nico Valiani, sharing with him the perspectives and trends in the market in which we operate, from the viewpoint of someone who is directly involved in the world of mouldings every day.

Valiani is among the Italian excellences in the production of mat cutting machines. The company currently exports to over 80 countries and has developed three Business Units, one for moulding products, one for the print & packaging market, and one for the textile industry. Due to its high quality and operational capability, they have been chosen by prestigious institutions such as the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, the Hermitage, the White House, as well as by creatives, designers, and major companies like Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Roland, Ferragamo, Brioni, and many others.

Times have changed, and research and engineering have made significant advancements in our industry. In the past, mat cutting was done by hand with a ruler and a cutter, but today, we have machines that cut them without even touching them. What does automation represent for you today, and in which direction do you see it moving?

Today, the difficulty in finding labor and the cost of employees themselves are driving companies toward greater automation of processes: having advanced machinery is essential, both to offer unique and specific processing, especially in mat cutting, and to stay in sync with an increasingly demanding market.

In an artisanal moulding workshop, the reliability of machinery is absolutely crucial. A framer cannot afford to have a backup machine for every task and must rely on machines with impeccable performance. In this sense, how do you evaluate the reliability of your machines as a company?

We are extremely proud of the reliability of our machines: I can confidently state that they have a minimum lifespan of 15 to 20 years, maintaining the performance levels for which they were designed over time. I would like to emphasize a point that is very important to me: thanks to the technology and robustness with which we design the machines, maintenance costs are almost zero. So, it’s an investment that can be made without being daunted by initial costs. Consider that in the long run, a computerized mat cutting machine has a total cost of just over €16 per day. For what it can do and for its simplicity and speed, it essentially pays for itself.

In the last 20 years, there has been an expansion of the use of machines in areas that previously did not use this technology. Can we say that some markets, like the Italian one, for example, are still expanding, or do you think we have reached saturation?

Honestly, I believe that many markets, including the Italian market, are still behind when it comes to computerized mat cutting machines. However, I am noticing a change in trend due to both the competition from large retailers that provide simple, ready-made products with rectangular mats and the entry of the second generation into moulding workshops. The new generation is capable of working with increasingly simple software and is eager to explore the creative side of the trade by offering framed pieces with elaborate mats, high thicknesses, texts, and decorations. There is a trend, for example, of framing different objects besides artwork, from football or basketball team jerseys to special mementos like motorcycle plates and more. To create these types of frames, technology that operates with maximum precision and without material waste or extended production times is truly indispensable.

Changing one’s machinery can be a challenge: in your opinion, what types of advantages could a machinery upgrade bring in terms of product quality and increased productivity?

Regarding automatic mat cutting machines, the biggest hurdle is transitioning from manual to computerized: once the new technology is chosen, there’s no turning back. At this point, a framer is aware of when it’s time to replace their machines because it has become a fundamental tool for carrying out their daily work, and they can’t do without it.

In some countries, there have been or are still government incentives to upgrade machinery for businesses. Do you find that many framers are attentive or well-informed by their consultants about this aspect, which could save them a lot of money?

In Italy, for a limited time until the end of 2023, the law provides additional incentives for those who purchase “Industry 4.0” machinery. It is possible to take advantage of a Tax Credit on the F24 form equal to 20% in the Northern regions and 20+40% (60%) in the Southern regions.

Many framers are not aware of these incentives, even though we always mention it during the Bologna trade fair or to those who contact us for a personalised quote. I believe it’s essential to seize this opportunity in 2023, so I would encourage those who are considering modernising their machinery to do so by December 31, 2023; there is still a significant amount of savings available.

Over the past two years, much has been said about the availability of raw materials such as iron, aluminium, and steel for machinery production. Are we still in the midst of a crisis?

Fortunately, I can say that the crisis is almost over. There are still some lingering effects, but I predict that from 2024, the availability of materials will return to normal.

As for the price increases for raw materials, how much have they risen, and what prospects do you think there are for the future?

The prices of raw materials and components have increased significantly, perhaps too much, although we have not been able to make the same type of increases. Currently, prices have remained stable, and there are no signs of decline. I hope that they will decrease, but I doubt it will happen in the near future.

We thank Nico Valiani for his availability and his passion for advancing our industry from a technological perspective.

Thank you, Nico.

Luca Salvadori

Categories: InterviewPublished On: November 2, 2023