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WORKS OF ART ARE SAFE WITH ITALIAN SECURITY SYSTEMS
Italian companies working in the security sector have managed to develop such a level of specialization in this highly technological field as to become models of excellence on the international stage. So much so, in fact, that they have attracted the attention of some of the world’s leading companies. Franco Dischi, president of the sector’s trade association, Assosicurezza, explained the situation: “The big internationals often try to buy up these companies in order to appropriate their expertise and further expand the business”. Their favourite targets are companies specializing in the protection of high risk categories, such as airports and military installations, or those concerned with the protection of cultural assets.
Assosicurezza brings together Italian producers and distributors of electronic or mechanical technology. Franco Dischi gave further details: “The most typical electronic security systems are those involving video surveillance and fire detection and control, followed by anti-theft devices, and intrusion-detection and access-control systems”. The mechanical security systems are familiar everyday objects, such as entrances with metal detectors installed at banks, turnstiles, safes, safe deposit boxes, night safes and A.T.M. machines.
In the year 2007 (the latest available figures) the turnover of the sector concerned with security and automation systems for buildings rose by 5.7%, while the sector involved in intrusion-detection systems saw an even bigger increase (up 7.5%), thanks to sales of closed-circuit camera installations, which alone saw revenue up by 17.8%. The industry in general achieved a turnover of 1.9 billion Euros, with an export share equivalent to 11.5%, up 3.9% to 214 million Euros. The principal outlet is clearly Europe, which accounted for 98.4% of total exports. But there are signs that the sector is repositioning its export strategy: in fact there has been most growth in demand from European countries outside the E.U. The export shares for the other main regions have remained stable, with Asia leading at 7.4%.
In a very competitive global environment Italian companies have also embarked on overseas production. Franco Dischi pointed out: “It is no longer possible to make everything in-house. To achieve economies of scale one has to trust to skilled and specialized third parties for the production of parts such as casts, boxes and metal cabinets”. And what happens when one has to resolve specific problems, perhaps by creating personalized solutions? The president of Assosicurezza gave an answer: “In cases like that we have to work in extremely close collaboration with our highly specialized foreign suppliers”.
Operating on a global stage is not always easy for the Italian small to medium-sized businesses involved in this industry. In this context Assosicurezza plays a strategic role, because it can gather together those operators who want to participate in international trade fairs, giving them all-round support below market prices. Franco Dischi explained: “There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate in various ways with the Italian Trade Commission. Some years ago, for example, the Italian Trade Commission undertook the translation of a large manual published by our association which concerned the latest security technology”.
Another field in which Italian companies reign supreme is that relating to the custody of cultural assets. Their expertise was “home-grown” in a country which has guardianship of more than 50% of the world’s historical and artistic heritage. The protection of cultural goods involves Italian companies on various fronts. Assosicurezza, for example, has drawn up guidelines which can be used to design security systems according to trade rules and current legislation on the protection and custody of works of art. In art galleries and exhibition halls Italian companies have developed special systems for protecting pictures and sculpture. “These systems”, explained Franco Dischi, “can be adapted according to the layout of the exhibition space, and so are extremely flexible. An important example of international collaboration in this field was the installation of a security system in one of the principal museums in North Carolina”. In this way, thanks to experience gained on the ground, the Italian companies participating in the project will be able to find new commercial opportunities in the United States in future years.