Interview with Silverio Baranzano
Supply of materials during a pandemic is a complex situation
Fitesa is a leader in the nonwoven fabrics industry, specialising in providing innovative fabrics for the hygiene, medical and industrial markets. CEO Silverio Baranzano talks about manufacturing in the times of a pandemic.
TT: The covid-19 pandemic is not likely to go away any time soon. How do you see the market in the near future? There has been a shortage of PPEs in many places. Is the industry geared up enough to meet the consistent demand?
The nonwovens industry, as many others, have been very fast in adjusting and redirecting capacity to meet the urgent needs from the healthcare segment, as well as approving and implementing investments to increase available capacity, worldwide. We are also seeing customers around the globe expanding their production capacities and embracing new market segments in incredibly fast rates, which makes us optimistic about the future. However, the supply of any materials during a surge like a pandemic is a complex situation that involves not only raw materials, but converting capacities, distribution and, in cases involving healthcare, government regulation, in addition to hard to forecast time spans. Therefore, it would be unwise to make any ultimate statements about the industry's capacity to serve the market, considering this is not a "one side" situation.
TT: As a company, where is your own demand the highest? What is your production capacity at the moment? Are you planning to ramp it up?
Fitesa is a nonwoven supplier for the hygiene and healthcare markets. We have strongly expanded our production capacity in the recent years, and plan to continue to do so. As one example, we have recently announced four projects with technology supplier Reicofil, that will help us increase our ability to supply our target markets, including the urgently needed medical apparel.
TT: Which countries are you currently exporting to? What are the bottlenecks that you see in exports right now?
We currently have 16 plants in 10 countries, serving over 80 countries around the world. Fortunately, we have not faced disruptions in our supply chains due to the covid-19 crisis so far.
TT: In many countries, the cost of PPEs especially is turning out to be expensive given the volumes that are required. Are you also doing anything to bring down the per unit costs?
We continue to be consistent with our price policies, without taking advantage of the market situation, and expanding our available capacity for the healthcare market as much as possible in order to contribute to the reduction of demand pressure on prices.
TT: Today's consumption of PPEs especially is because of a specific reason: a particular virus. Are you working on innovations on this count?
Fitesa is the only spunmelt manufacturer with three innovation centres equipped with pilot lines that replicate its commercial lines' capabilities, besides featuring new and disruptive technologies. Although we cannot comment on specific ongoing projects, our scientists are always working on new developments to serve the most important market trends and needs.