PCN Europe: SO.CA.P. has been active since 1956. How has the company changed throughout the years in terms of production and market presence?
Agosti: The production has changed in the first years of activity. At the beginning of its history, SO.CA.P. used to mainly produce concrete industrial products. Afterwards, the production moved from concrete to steel. Then Mr. Bariani, one of the founding partners of the company together with Busnelli family, had the idea to create a pneumatic formwork to replace the steel one. Only later the production of pneumatic formworks and other inflatable products has begun, and SO.CA.P has established as we know it nowadays. Then, the company has started to diversify its production, going from gluedown assembled rubber to heat-sealable materials of greater quality, thanks to the continuous work of improvement of raw materials undertaken together with our suppliers - Italian companies like SO.CA.P - with whom we produce more and more technical and qualitative materials.
PCN Europe: How has the company addressed the challenges of research and innovation, given that your catalogue has been subjected to just a few changes during these 60 years?
Agosti: Our job is based on constant research, and we perform it in a dedicated way, with the objective of listening to clients’ needs. Our strength can be found in the will to satisfy even the smallest requests coming from our customers. Currently, we are working on some design project changes with the aim of creating new products.
We are still trying to understand on which products we could work more, also taking into account current market needs. For instance, we manufactured an inflatable product for a customer who wanted to keep his boat lifted by the water when he doesn’t use it. This way, we don’t have only satisfied a client, but we have also explored a new business market for our activity.
Thanks to Social Media such as Facebook, we had the possibility to give more visibility to some of these projects and acquire new clients. However, it’s still difficult to create new standard products for our catalogue and launch them onto mainstream market. Our history always leads us to pay attention to quality, despite the hard competition on the market. This means that every product put on the market is an internal production and not a rebranded acquisition, as it happens to see very often. This gives us the possibility to distinguish ourselves and keep our production on even without huge orders we had in the past from the oil & gas sector.
PCN Europe: Being visible on the market is nowadays more and more important. How do you communicate your brand and products? Which are your benchmark exhibitions?
Agosti: In these years we have decided to invest in national and international exhibitions such as ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi and OMC in Ravenna. We regularly participate in these events. The exhibitions are therefore our most important showcase, as much as the Internet and, partially, Social Media.
PCN Europe: Which tests must pneumatic tubular formworks undergo today before being placed on the market?
Agosti: Our products are compliant to UNI standards on inflatable pneumatic formworks. These standards establish welding methods and safety coefficients. Furthermore, it’s important to note that our company has been certified to ISO 9001 for 20 years: A certification of quality management renowned at a global scale.
PCN Europe: If you could define SO.CA.P. with three adjectives what would they be?
Agosti: I think that the most important values for us are reliability, experience and professionalism.
PCN Europe: Which sector could become of great importance for your business in the future, besides the oil and gas industry?
Agosti: We are now looking more and more at the maritime sector. In the past, we worked with Fincantieri during the building of large cruise ships such as Costa Fortuna and Costa Concordia. SO.CA.P. provided them with floating balloons that were used to lift the ships while leaving the dry dock, a very complex operation since Italian dry docks are too small for ships of such dimensions. After that, our brand started to be recognized in the Italian shipbuilding sector. SO.CA.P also supplies tanks to several service companies which conduct lifeboat tests. For this reason, we hope that the maritime sector will become more important for us in the future. Of course, our hopes are always placed in the oil and gas sector, which is the most relevant one for our business.
PCN Europe: Which kind of maintenance service is made on your products?
Agosti: We produce long-lasting products which only have low requirements in maintenance, especially when it comes to pneumatic stoppers. In any case, we are always available to offer our customers maintenance services on our products.