“Over many years, we have turned into a worldwide leader when it comes to advanced information systems,” sums up President and Managing Director Massimo Paniccia.
“We installed more than 3,000 systems all over the world. This achievement makes Solari di Udine a small multinational corporation in terms of technology.”
Solari di Udine is an exceptional company in many regards. Its roots go back to 1725; its complex product portfolio mirrors fundamental know-how and meets the most challenging needs of today’s rapidly changing technology world. Information systems for railway stations, message boards and control systems providing traffic information, systems for the management of urban parking areas and queue management solutions are solid cornerstones of the product range. They perfectly illustrate that Solari di Udine has always dealt with time information.
Solari’s foundation dates back to 1725, a time influenced by the industrial revolution. Back then, the ‘Antica e premiata fabbrica di orologi da torre’ from Pesaris was well-known for tower clocks made of bronze. These clocks were characterized by a sophisticated mechanism that was ahead of its time. Bell towers all over Italy, Europe and even South America were soon made by the ‘Old and Prized Tower Clocking Industry’.
The development and manufacturing of tower clocks dominated the business for a long time. It was in 1939 when Fermo and Remigio Solari took over the company to open a new chapter. They established a plant in Udine and started concentrating on developing flap clocks.
“In the 1950s, flap clocks were quite a revolutionary invention,” says Mr. Paniccia. “They fundamentally changed common methods of time visualization and public information. The creation of Cifra 3 sat new benchmarks. The flap clock was even showcased in New York’s famous Museum of Modern Art.”
Furthermore, Solari became a highly recognized company for the development of the world’s first public information systems that were installed at Vienna’s international airport and Liège’s station. Due to the Prodi law Solari’s management was in the hands of large industrial groups for a certain time before in 1994 the ambitious and committed entrepreneur Massimo Paniccia took over the company and paved the way for a successful future.
Today, Solari di Udine has 245 employees and annual sales of 55 million EUR. Exports make up 50%; France, the United States, the Netherlands, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates represent important sales markets among the company’s 52 markets worldwide. Solari has sites in Prato Carnico, Udine and New York.
“Public information systems are core products,” states Technical Director Sabino Sinesi. “They account for around 50% of turnover. Solari’s broad product range is second to none and includes historical flap clocks as well as modern TFT/LCD or LED products guaranteeing reduced energy consumption. These products are perfect solutions for motorways, stations, airports and cities.”
Solari di Udine’s innovative information display solutions are used in many European cities. Providing turnkey solutions is an important trademark. “Our solutions are based on profound competence,” adds Mr. Paniccia. “We are in the position to deliver both hardware and software and to adapt to individual customer requirements. Every single product and component is made in Italy.”
The remaining 50% of sales are made up by Solari’s catalogue products. And again, the company has set new standards – Solari was the first to introduce time cards at the end of the 1940s. Based on these products a whole range of queue management and digital signage solutions was developed. “Queue management solutions are important elements of our portfolio,” explains Mr. Sinesi.
“On behalf of the Italian mail we installed a reliable solution composed by a smart touch-screen, numbered-ticket dispenser and call modules. The main idea behind the system is that people must be served in the same order they arrived or booked. Our system allows people once they got a number to leave their waiting position until their turn is called. If a queue is really long, more desks will automatically be opened. Virtual tickets can even be ordered with the help of an app. At the moment, we are testing the system in Udine’s hospital.”
Other product highlights are LED illumination systems for trains or cities. Milano Metro Trains for instance already rely on Solari’s innovative, energy-efficient LED system. Clocks come as other bestsellers and Cifra 3 still plays a special role against this backdrop. “Cifra 3 is not only a reliable clock, it is an icon,” emphasises Mr. Paniccia. “The flap clock perfectly combines technology and creativity, design and communicative power.”
Gino Valle, architect, painter and designer, startet working with Solari in 1954. He designed the electromechanical flip clock Cifra 5 that got the prestigious award ‘Compasso d’oro’; it was at the end of the 1960s, when Gino Valle presented Cifra 3, Solari’s stylistic hallmark for decades.
“Still today, manual labour is essential,” points out Marketing Manager Katia Bredeon. “In terms of production of this special item, nothing has really changed since Cifra 3 was born. We are still able to work with the original production tools. Many famous people cooperated to realize this stunning clock that is still unique; it is a design icon known all around the world and displayed in the world’s most exquisite shops.”
Today, Solari’s solutions convince in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Milano and New York. All Moroccan stations are equipped with information systems made by Solari and many new projects are in the pipeline.
“We are currently working on LED lamps for data communication,” says Mr. Paniccia. “It is a new technology and we hope to realize the project within the next two years. Another project focuses on access control systems via biometric data. Last but not least, we are going to push forward the realization of Solari Linea Design. It is a new market and a great challenge. It is clear that we will always deal with time information.”