Interview with Valerio Gridelli, CEO Viasat S.p.A.
How many and which delaying factors must the freight transport sector deal with today?
Almost 17,000 road transport companies have disappeared in 6 years, 70,000 job places have been lost, not to mention the volume of demand, vehicle fleets and turnover. Moreover, competition from abroad is becoming fiercerand fiercer. The figures are inexorable and urge us to start a process of change, in order to restore this sector which is strategic for our economy. While it is true that our prospects for growth and greater efficiency depend on our timeliness and ability to renew ourselves in order to gain a competitive advantage, taking full advantage of the technological opportunities available on the market, we have come to a point where we cannot waste any more time. It is time to act, to move on.
In short, you either innovate or die?
We are going through a phase of epoch-making change and we are hardly realizing it. What we used to call the digital boom less than 10 years ago, has become the Internet of Things today. Italy needs to quickly close the gap and adopt satellite telematics technologies, because in the next 15 years they will revolutionize the structure of the transport system as we know it. They will make travel simpler, with drivers increasingly connected and updated on traffic conditions and dangerous situations, and with companies increasingly looking for maximum efficiency and economy.
Viasat has invested a great deal in this issue. Which solutions do you propose?
Viasat has been pioneering the use of infotelematics technology since the 1980s, both in Italy and Europe. Today, by integrating hi-tech solutions and satellite telematics services for fleet management, we are able to guarantee fleet managers the highest levels of support, protection, security and cost-effectiveness for vehicles, goods and people. Thus, we allow transport companies to achieve particularly significant results when it comes to reducing operating costs and improving service levels, making road transport processes more efficient and safer, even at the intermodal network nodes, including customs.
Is something changing?
After years of calm, there is now great excitement among fleet managers throughout Europe, particularly in Italy. Many of them want to increase the number of vehicles in the fleet and optimize their business by means of more technological equipment. The strong sales recovery in 2016, a year that saw a 54% increase in vehicle registrations compared to 2015, with more than 23 thousand new trucks, is certainly a positive sign. And so is the implementation of fleet telematics, which is even more significant in Italy than in competing foreign companies. In this scenario, Viasat Fleet’s proposal, which combines hi-tech solutions and telematics support services, presents itself as a precise and concrete response to the most important needs expressed by the world of intermodal road transport.
So, welcome to the future. How do you imagine it?
The sector must seize the opportunities that present themselves, in a period of great change such as the present one, increasingly characterised by technological innovations, smart roads, connected and self-driving vehicles, and technologically advanced road infrastructure. Over the next few years, these innovations will have a profound impact on the way we do business in the transport and logistics sector in Italy, Europe and globally. The future will lead to safer, more sustainable, digital and integrated mobility, and transport and logistics companies must adapt their processes to the new paradigms introduced by Industry 4.0. However, manhood will still be the protagonist of change, not just technology. In fact, in the future, there will be a need for more and more qualified people, able to adapt to the innovations and the pace dictated by the new paradigms of the digital age. People who can translate all of this into solutions and products and then make them available on the market. That being the case, the need for Viasat will grow stronger and stronger!