In conversation with...Guido Sala

Guido Sala, a Freudenberg Performance Materials (FPM) employee at the Freudenberg site in Novedrate, Italy, talks about process improvements & customer benefits.

To what extent has digitalization changed our habits?

Let’s think of all those technologies now available compared to 20 years ago. Each of us has now developed a "digital mindset", which is the result of the constant contact we have with the digital world. Digitalization projects arise from a combination of needs and technologies and now, more than ever, we are becoming aware of the tools we have at our disposal. Let’s take a closer look at the past two years: Today, it’s quite natural to use apps or other digital solutions to perform operations that previously required our physical presence or paper documentation.

If a company is able to make business processes more efficient and meet people’s needs, it creates value.

Guido, you believe that the main goal of digitalization in the working world is to improve business processes (in terms of efficiency and effectiveness). How can this best be achieved?

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind the needs of employees as well as those of the customer. If a company is able to make business processes more efficient and meet people’s needs, it creates value. Even deleting ‘unnecessary’ digital is also digitalization. Each of us can identify an area for improvement within our own activities. Having the tools and the technologies to make this possible expresses the democratic nature of digitalization itself and goes well with a bottom-up approach. Of course, communication is the basis for the success of any digitalization project, since without coordination between the functions, even very interesting projects risk foundering.

What role does the user play here?

Each of us is a primary actor in business processes. We are now so used to using tools, technologies, and analytical methods that often we do not realize that we are already very digital. If I had to think about the processes in our company, it would be impossible to find one that does not have even a small part digitized. And this development is no longer driven solely by a centralized IT department, but to a large extent by the users and process owners themselves.

Freudenberg drives digitalization by asking each Business Group to develop its own strategy. What projects do you have at the Novedrate site?

We have completed several projects, others are still ongoing: electronic invoicing, digital signatures, optical archives, timesheets, or CRM. In production I can mention the ‘camera systems’ for quality improvement, the Industry 4.0 initiatives and projects aimed at collecting, harmonizing, and analyzing quality data among our production sites, along with added value for our customers and greater efficiency through process optimization. These are Freudenberg’s primary goals, always taking care to distinguish what is actually important from what is exciting, learning together, sharing ideas and best practices in order to support the innovation process.

About Guido Sala