Michele Vitulano is his usual quick-witted and personable self when we sit down in the early stages of the 31st edition of SaMoTer and co-located Asphaltica.
He highlights a growing demand for attachment products compatible with smaller-sized excavators, with the company looking to increase its range in response to this market trend. “We already have breakers from 60 kilograms to 11,000 kilograms, so we are talking about pulverisers, demolition crushers, mulching heads, and grabbers. We are growing these ranges going down and are very close to launching a 150-kilogram grabber. We will also have 900-kilogram and 500-kilogram demolition crusher attachments out very soon.”
Vitulano notes that Indeco benefited from a particularly strong performance in North America in 2022, where the Bari, Puglia-headquartered company enjoyed its best-ever sales year at just under $50mn. Indeco North America is now looking to expand its Milford, Connecticut facility to meet the strong demand for equipment. The site also manufactures several items, such as mounting brackets for hydraulic hammers and hydraulic compactor attachments.
“Our Milford premises is huge, and from it, we can deliver 98.5% of requested parts within 24 hours,” emphasises Vitulano. “We can also deliver spare parts from there to customers in Canada, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile.”
Vitulano says he is also looking for a suitable business to add to Indeco’s portfolio. “We are looking to add another product to our basket. The choice is always to start the product from zero like we did with our steel shears or buy a company already producing them as we did with our mulching heads. We are watching some European and US companies and have our eye on several possibilities.
“Indeco is financially really strong. That is why we don’t use any bank financing. We reinvest all our profit as we are doing with our new €8 million Bari production plant. It will be used for welding and cutting of what we call silent demolition tools, like pulverisers and steel shears. It will also be used to produce the casings for our hammers. This plant will easily double our production capacity. We will take on more people and have more robot stations for better efficiency. The space used before in our main premises for metal carpentry will increase our semi-finished and spare part inventories. The latter will help our dealers offer even better service to customers. I hope this new plant starts operating in June.”
A global employer with 240 employees worldwide, Vitulano says that in December 2022, Indeco responded to its workers’ concerns over rising energy and other living costs by raising salaries by around 10%. “At the end of the day, a company succeeds through the efforts of its people,” he stresses.
Indeco has made its first sales of breakers in Japan, a significant success given the strength of Japanese hydraulic breaker firms in the home market. Improving construction and mining customer demand in Australia is also good news for the company, which has distribution and service premises in Melbourne and Sydney.
The first manufacturer to launch the smart hammer on the market in 1985, Indeco is among the first to offer a range of hydraulic attachments with 4.0 technology. This is thanks to the new remote monitoring system Indeconnect, based on the principles of the Internet of Things, to prevent equipment obsolescence and maintain optimum performance over time.
Indeconnect consists of a proprietary device to be mounted on various equipment, provided with 4G technology for wireless interconnection to the network and a cloud-based web platform accessible from mobile (via app) or PC, with which to consult the data transmitted in real-time by each installed device: hours of work performed, working position in space, hydraulic oil temperature, ambient temperature, and GPS location.
Returning to Indeco’s trading priorities, Vitulano says: “The challenge over the next year will be to increase our attachment product efficiency even further as construction machines become increasingly electric powered. Our hammers have a fuel-saving system. Our hammers require 18-19% less oil than comparable attachments to do the same work on the same excavator. A gas-powered hammer has an efficiency of 55%; our hammers have an efficiency of between 65 and 70%. If a hammer requires less input energy from the machine carrier, then greater output energy can be generated by the hammer. It lowers the carrier machine’s engine RPM, reducing gas consumption and customer fuel costs.
“An excavator’s fuel cost, right now, is a lot of money. We were doing some calculations at a huge quarry in India that primarily treats construction and demolition waste and turns it into gravel. We reviewed the customer’s 100-tonne excavator and hammer operating and maintenance costs, then looked at the fuel cost and said, ‘My goodness. It is five to six times all the other costs.’ Talking to your customers and learning from your markets is important.”
Commenting further on Indeco’s key sales markets, Vitulano says: “We generate most of our sales in Europe and the US, so we are reinvesting some of our profit into offering even more to customers in those markets. For instance, I remember years ago when we invested significantly in Indeco UK, near Manchester in England. A colleague expressed concern over the investment size, but I said, ‘No, we must invest to employ more people and to have a better workshop and offer a better service.’ It is important for a company put money back into the markets that have enabled it to grow. We put passion into what we do and love our customers.”
Vitulano comments on Indeco’s trading in China and Southeast Asia: “We sell big steel shears and hydraulic hammers in China. Unlike in China and South Korea, the European community has no agreement with Southeast Asian countries regarding zero [export and import] duties. A hammer going to Indonesia from Europe has 14% more duty to pay than if it was imported from China or South Korea. That means selling our products in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries costs much more. We are trying to do business in important markets like that, but it is difficult.”
Throughout our open and enjoyable 45-minute conversation on Indeco’s SaMoTer exhibition stand, Vitulano had industry colleagues coming to warmly greet him or waving hellos as they passed by the company’s stand. As I left, the impressive stand was attracting healthy visitor numbers, a good sign for Indeco’s domestic trading and the success of SaMoTer’s 31st edition.