“SLIM is the privileged partner of many of the biggest Italian and foreign leading companies…”

    In 1973, the interaction of six people, each one with his own experience in the mechanical engineering and electrical sectors, gave birth to SLIM Srl. The company is ever ready and open to innovation, their investments are aimed at optimizing the company processes and strengthening the search and development of new lightning technologies. In an exclusive e-interview with Electrical India, Raffaella Zambellini, CEO of SLIM Srl, fields questions from P. K. Chatterjee (PK). Excerpts...

    What kind of transformation is happening in the field of lighting as far as reduction of carbon footprint is concerned?

    First of all, let me say that SLIM historical core business is the production of signaling indicators – and only in the last 15-20 years we have approached the world of lighting solutions. Lighting indication is something different from lighting: the first indicates something (generally the status of a device), the purpose of lighting instead is to enlighten something. But the big common element is anyway the Light and the two segments share some trends and influences.

    In general, looking at the evolution of the industry, the lighting technology is increasingly involved in the development of important topics linked to the future such as sustainability, digitization, electrification and the quest for individual well-being. Approaching the concept of sustainable lighting means carrying out lighting projects with greater respect for the environment.

    Most lighting systems are based on the LED technology, whose benefits are reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions. But it is the whole approach that is changing when a producer faces a new project: the industry’s research and development centers are committed to creating products that are as innovative and environmentally friendly as possible in terms of production process, materials used, re-use and disposal options at the end of their lives. At the same time, this awareness is impacting the processes and the way companies develop their activities and their supply chains. There is no industry today that is not impacted by these considerations, whichever is the product they sell on the market.

    What are the emerging areas where lighting is gaining increasing importance?

    The study of light plays a very important role today, both in interior architecture and in the design of application devices such as household appliances or switches. The subject of light design has become particularly central to the lighting industry where it has had an astonishing exploit in recent years. Whereas in the past, light was interpreted in its function as a source of illumination or signaling, today the direction of development in lighting technology points towards a scenario in which light becomes synonymous with excellence, innovation and design. Companies in the sector are developing new approaches to the market and proposing cutting-edge solutions. The concept of Light has been changing from a functional perspective to a new one mixing together the ideas of innovation, sustainability awareness, quality and also personal well being. Today this topic has evolved further with the advent of smart lighting systems, one of the current trends, called Smart Lighting. Another industry trend that entered the market a few years ago, but continues to evolve, is Human Centric Lighting. Human Centric Lighting refers to a type of lighting design and study that focuses on people’s well-being and health. Then, a concept particularly felt by the Italian culture, is the attention to beauty and design. Light can be considered and implemented to convey value to the esthetical proposal of a device or object.

    How is the demand for UV Light Sterilizers increasing followed by the lessons learnt in the peak corona days?

    In the last three years, due to the Covid pandemic, there has been an emerging interest towards this technology.  Ultraviolet radiation light has been demonstrated capable of killing a wide range of harmful organisms. Precisely because of its germicidal property, the fields of use of UV sterilization are multiple and range from the purification of water (e.g. for the preparation of beverages such as coffee) and the purification of air to the sterilization of everyday objects such as smartphones or masks.

    These innovative solutions for sanitization, disinfection and sterilization  will continue to be required on the market as long as we will finally get out of this challenging period and anyway a particular attention to hygiene and safety will anyway stay with us for a long time.

    Anyway, what is important to know is that the effectiveness of this devices depends on certain technical factors: the distance between the UV-C source and the surface to be treated, the exposure time of the UV-C rays on the surface in question, and the presence of dust are all variables that impact the effectiveness of the germicidal action of ultraviolet radiation. So, any project with this technology should foresee a phase of feasibility study and specialized lab tests in order to be effective.

    How is the need for indicator lamps growing with the growth of the smart household appliances?

    The past two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen a shift in consumer demand for home appliances. The long periods of lockdowns at home caused people to reconsider which appliances they wanted to have in their houses. The home appliance market has evolved to meet new consumer needs.

    The small appliances market, witnessed revenue growth of 10.5% in 2020 and 9.9% in 2021 respectively, when most other markets witnessed a decline, owing to the rising sales of products such as vacuum cleaners and small kitchen appliances.

    Much of the growth in this market has been and still is being driven by emerging economies, amid rising income levels, changing lifestyle, and growing urbanization.

    In more advanced countries, on the other side, a particular attention is also paid to the new trends toward new features and technologies and  the concepts of sustainability, design, smart functionality (IoT).

    As an example, in Europe  we have seen a huge growth in the coffee machine sector in terms of volume (caused by the many people locked in house but still willing to enjoy a good coffee), but what was quite impressive was the search of more and more efficient and smart devices, where functionality and design are mixed together.

    Both these elements seem to give an optimistic outlook about a further growth in the consumption of light indicators.

    To what extent do the home owners realize the value of good lighting (especially its effect on residents’ body and mind)?

    Also in this respect, a big impact  has been made by the pandemic. People were blocked inside their houses all the time and started to see their domestic environment with new eyes and with completely different needs.

    The new terms of Smart Lighting and Human Centric Lighting refer to intelligent, automated lighting control systems that enable a sought-after synergy between comfort and sustainability. These are lighting devices with sensors and wireless technologies that allow luminaires to be controlled, e.g., to automatically switch off lights and adjust their intensity according to natural light, thus positively influencing the well-being of the individual, which we all need especially in these quite challenging times.

    In some of our most recent projects we have been working on innovative back lighting solutions for domestic switches: in this case, the light is not only considered as merely functional (indicating the position and status of the device in the room), but it becomes part of the aesthetical and emotional value added of the product, which is no more a simple switch but a piece of the house interior decoration and an element of well being for its residents.

    How can you help in customization of lighting projects?

    If the customer wants to develop a new lighting solution for its final device, we can help offering a design service, that starting from the customer specifications allows us to realize a completely customized product, specifically created for the final application.

    The design phase is developed closely with the customer so that to fully understand the technical characteristics required.

    Today, SLIM is the privileged partner of many of the biggest Italian and foreign leading companies in different industrial sectors, among which household appliances and lighting industries are the most relevant. This strict collaboration allows to develop both the electrical/electronic aspect of the product as well as the external one, realizing plastic cases of different shapes and dimensions, to better fit the desired final appliance. 3D technology is applied by our technical team in order to obtain solid prototypes in  short times. Our internal workshop can develop the molds for the necessary plastic components and, if needed, can modify them in case a change in the characteristics takes place during the design process.

    Lastly, this service ends with the possibility to apply for specific technical approvals on the new developed product. The final result will be a completely customized product.

    Could you brief me on your manufacturing setup, and technologies that you adopt?

    Speed, flexibility, fast response time, production of small and big quantities, quick delivery timing.

    Our production system is a tested mechanism supported by long lasting experience, qualified personnel, technical instruments suitable to assure high efficiency standards, to which our customers are accustomed.

    Technology and innovation guide us on a daily basis, from production processes to the design of customized new products. Over the past few years, SLIM’s R&D department and production facility have been enriched with modern, high-performance tools, which enable us to actively collaborate with customers.

    The last new technologies recently introduced in our production plant have towed the implementation of automated work stations with anthropomorphic arm and automated feeding system and a new Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

    For SLIM, this was a step towards the so-called Industry 4.0. It is a renewal of processes and systems, aimed at improving the level of service offered to our customers.

    With this in mind, a new interconnected die-sinking EDM machine has been also recently introduced: an ancillary piece of equipment to SLIM’s moulding department, which allows an improvement in the level of service offered, performing ordinary and extraordinary maintenance on metal moulds, with a remarkable level of precision, or creating a mould from scratch for the  presses of the plastic polymers.

    From seaming to welding, from assembling to testing, the production system at S.L.I.M. is the result of all the efforts we put every day into being more and more efficient and improving the quality of our product.

    How much importance do you give to R&D for new product development?

    R&D activities and investment are obviously really important to be able to propose new products and technologies to our customers, anticipating the market requests.

    We are constantly investing in new systems for a better management of all the production cycle and the R&D activities. The use of 3D printers in stereolithography allows us to largely increase the creation of prototypes, while the implementation of numerically controlled equipment makes our production even more flexible and efficient, making the service offered to the customer all-round better.

    Ready and open to innovation, our investments are aimed at optimizing the company processes and strengthening the search and development of new lightning technologies. Our R&D department has gained modern and high-performing tools in its growth, which allows our company to actively cooperate with our customers to the development of new products and solutions. These abilities, increased over the years, let us achieve tailor made solutions, with the aim of supplying the most suitable solution to the required need.

    How do you support your customers?

    Quick and qualified answers to requests coming from all over the world, this is our customer support.

    Already during our first contact with the customer, we strive to give our support, answering pertinently in short time. Our staff is organized and competent, today 95% of the incoming requests are answered within 48 hours.

    The customer is a real value for us; customer support, so, is for us a major goal: we follow our customers kindly and competently from the first contact to the long-lasting consolidated partnership. We strive to anticipate our customers’ requests, also through a highly oriented problem-solving approach.

    Commitment and creative capacity, attention to detail and care for quality are just some of the distinctive aspects of SLIM.

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