Since its start in 1917 MULTI ELECTRIC has been a frontrunner in AGL innovation:
- Developed the first inset light,
- developed the first portable lights in the fifties,
- developed the first approach system,
- and much more.
In this interview with the company’s Executive Vice President, Massimo Denipoti, we learn more about MULTI ELECTRIC’s North American presence and how it compares to other players in the market.
Mr. Denipoti, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Massimo Denipoti, Executive Vice President of Multi Electric Mfg., in Chicago. We are an airfield ground lighting manufacturer.
My focus at Multi Electric is to ensure we continue to evolve and refine our business processes. Driving growth through new product development and customer loyalty initiatives is also key.
Prior to Multi Electric, I have spent part of my career in the automotive industry. Migrating some of the other industries’ practices into Multi Electric’s business has proven constructive, efficient, and fun!
As the EVP of MULTI ELECTRIC, what are the main challenges in today’s aviation world?
These are indeed strange times for the world and for our industry. COVID has impacted all businesses and especially the aviation industry. The main challenge for us is the reduced visibility of bid awarding time frames, as many of them keep being postponed. Forecasting becomes consequently more difficult. We took the opportunity, however, to fast track several projects internally and upgrade certain areas of our manufacturing process, while implementing Lean Manufacturing strategies. As a result, our product delivery times have been reduced considerably. Buyers now are offered standard deliveries of about six weeks or expedited services down to 2 weeks for LED products.
Another challenge on the horizon is FAA funding or lack thereof. Our industry sector is experiencing a contraction. It is unclear as to when a complete rebound will actually happen. This also translates into forecasting difficulties for companies involved with the supply of durable goods to the airports. Multi Electric has expedited in the meantime, the final details for the launch of our new generation LED Medium Intensity Runway Lights. Very modern and simplified, high durability light signal, it promises to be nearly maintenance-free, like all Multi Electric products.
What do you see as the big challenges going forward for the American aviation industry?
Several indicators are showing that airport traffic is coming back, although not at a fast pace, at the moment. Likely in 2021, our industry should experience a come-back. However, the question is whether the industry will regain the same level of business as before the pandemic hit. Going forward, the Aviation industry may experience a re-dimensioning and settle, for a period of time, to a lower volume of traffic. People and businesses realize that some travel can be avoided. Fear driven choices or decisions will continue to impact our industry to some degree.
The Federal Government has handled the crises promptly and was able to inject funds into our industry this year, aimed at maintaining and renovating airport infrastructure. Again, the question and challenge going forward will be the availability of funding for 2021 and 2022. Airport infrastructure requires continuous attention especially when it comes to airplane ground movement safety and ground visual guidance on the runways and taxiways.
What is trending at airports in the US when it comes to AGL?
Airports have adopted stricter maintenance regimes and we see a strong professionalization of the maintenance teams at airports whether internal or outsourced and that is an extremely positive evolution. We try to contribute by focusing heavily on the maintenance aspects of our products, reducing the number of maintenance intervals, and making maintenance simple, as every minute saved can be translated into many dollars saved. Our focus lies in supporting airports in their maintenance challenges by specialized training, by an extended maintenance offering, and most importantly by guaranteeing our direct support. Multi Electric develops and manufactures high-quality products, while heavily focusing on maintainability,
MULTI ELECTRIC has found a new dynamic?
Multi Electric is a unique blend of 100 years of lighting manufacturing and the innovation that its parent company – OCEM Airfield – has made available to us. It has been a great experience to merge product lines and refine manufacturing and assembly processes. We have been focusing on lean manufacturing and revisited our supply chain structure. We have ramped up our R&D efforts, firmly focused on innovation.
Meanwhile, we have been working very hard in the background continuing to serve our customers and don’t underestimate that part. More than 700 references in Northern America, that is not something everyone can play with.
At Multi Electric we have been also focusing on expanding our Sales group. We added talented people who know the AGL business and are devoted to supporting our customers in their challenges.