Simon Roberts took over as MD of Integration Technology - specialists in UV Curing - around 18 months ago after nearly 20 years in the Automotive and other Industrial sectors.
We catch up with him to find out how things have been going in this particularly challenging year and to hear more about the exciting new products that they have launched and their plans for 2021.
Frazer: Simon - Can you talk about how your business operations have been faring throughout the pandemic, and highlight any standout positives or particular challenges?
Simon: Interestingly, we have had a very strong ‘V’ shaped recovery during the Covid crisis and in particular we have been pretty busy since the summer of 2020. For sure, our core business in the Print industry has suffered a little in some areas such as Wide format, but it has been pretty strong in other areas such as Coding and Marking and Digital Labels. It seems that where End users have been more willing to be flexible and adapt then digital has thrived and our systems have been needed. We place great emphasis on our ability to be flexible and adaptable. You don’t have to just buy an off the shelf curing system, we always try to ensure our systems are right for the customer. Customers know that our standard products are high quality, but they also know we can be flexible and adaptable with the solution they require.
Frazer: What do you foresee as being the leading trends in your market going into 2021?
Simon: I sense that people are being innovative, flexible and pioneers – we certainly have. We have created new products such as the UV Sanitzer that have responded to the Covid crisis, but we have also created products that suit ongoing changes and developments.
Throughout 2020, where smaller investments are required, Covid has encouraged people to still take risks on developing new products– with just smaller risks, but investments that are giving some immediate payback. In essence, customers are being creative, they are often diversifying and we want to work alongside them in providing the right curing system to suit their needs.
Frazer: Do you foresee pre-pandemic trends continuing to thrive in 2021?
Simon: Clearly those mega trends are still there and in some ways been accentuated – Localisation, immediacy, flexible production, customised production, sustainability, and automation are all key and continue to influence demand.
Frazer: Going into 2021, how optimistic are you about the coming year? Can you share any specifics such as plans to recruit, product/tech launches, upcoming partnerships, other investments etc.?
Simon: We are really optimistic about the future – we have had time to develop new products that are re-configurations of existing products and we have had time, resources and knowhow to have responded to both evolving customer needs and new market demands. Our AC 500 portable LED curing system is an example of a brand-new product that was created from an existing product, but was about solving a problem for a customer who was addressing a new market – in this instance UV curable fillers for adhesives and top coats. This year has been all about ‘thinking differently’.
Frazer: Tell us more about your new products?
Simon: The AC 500 is an evolution of our AC 850 which both offers instant cure and with Low heat UV LED. They are aimed at the automotive and Industrial markets typically dealing with curable paints, fillers, adhesives, and topcoats.
The AC 500 is a user friendly, battery operated, hand-held high power UV LED, that was developed from a specific requirement of one of our customers in the US.
Frazer: Do you see the widespread availability of a vaccine having a significant effect on your sector?
Simon: Yes, I think that the second half of the year will see a bounce back. We are already sensing greater optimism. A very solid order book. We have had to look for different routes to market than traditional trade shows, but there have been lots of other options and if we continue to talk to customers on a regular basis, we always find out something new.
Frazer: Do you have any other predictions/insights into 2021 that you would like to share?
Simon: I think new markets will appear, so being flexible and adaptable is going to be important!
Our strength will always be our technical knowhow combined with adaptability. The Auto refinishing market is one area for us, but equally it could be anywhere where an ink , liquids ,coatings or even fillers that require fast curing onto a surface, for example – wind turbines.
I would say that in 2020 we have become much clearer on our own business vision. Basing our whole philosophy on certain key areas – Innovation, Flexibility and being ground-breaking & original.
Frazer: Thanks Simon…