SISTRADE implements MIS|ERP Sistrade® in Norprint - Artes Gráficas.
The history of any company is more than just an ongoing succession of facts, always has a conducting wire that gives an understanding of its evolution and an explanation of its market position.
Norprint is no exception to the rule. Therefore, its history, which reflects innovation at various levels - productive, commercial, environmental, and social - is the result of safe ventures in quality, professional, and human valuing of all employees, and in promoting technical innovation and management tools.
With the continuous need for efficient production control and company management, Norprint found the crucial need of investing in MIS|ERP that can help the company manage its time and not let the time manage the company. In this search, Norprint contacted SISTRADE and visited SISTRADE stands in some international trade fairs and opted for SISTRADE as its partner MIS|ERP provider that is capable of fulfilling Norprint needs.
INTERVIEW NORPRINT - Magazine Intergráficas [PDF Version]
“We are with Sistrade from the start”
Known as “Casa do Livro”, it is a reference in editorial printing and has been the market leader for thirty years. José Manuel Lopes de Castro, the founder of Norprint, has managed the company in an exemplary manner, investing in state-of-the-art products, equipment, and technology. Choosing the management system from SISTRADE was at the heart of a thorough and highly efficient organization, as he explained during the Sday2021 event.
How would you summarise the last 30 years of Norprint?
Norprint is completing 30 years of activity, it is a strong project. Norprint was born during the economic crisis of 1992, a complicated period but we have gotten through all the troubling moments of the country’s history. Presently we are starting a new era of full digitisation of the company.
Norprint has maintained a focus on the same type of products since the beginning...
We are known as “Casa do Livro”, and we continue producing brochures, books, catalogues, magazines, etc. This is not an easy area and, especially when it comes to books, we are living through a difficult, troubled time. In Europe, Portugal is the only country where the book sector does not register growth it is actually in a negative situation, which somehow reflects the current situation of our country. Despite everything, Norprint has projects in its portfolio, we are investing and we continue to believe in the product and in the market.
Has the implementation of Sistrade software in any way influenced your success? What are the gains in terms of costs and streamlining of business processes?
We have been with SISTRADE from the start because it is a cutting-edge technological partner that is currently diversifying, however, when the company started, it was dedicated to the printing industry. Today, in the printing industry, you cannot manage a shop floor that works 24 hours a day, without such IT and management component working very well, not only from an estimating perspective but also in terms of production management, stocks. Today, the responsibility of companies to provide information is such that, without the support of the system or software, it is impossible to achieve efficient management. It is therefore advisable for companies to invest in management software because there are gains in terms of production costs and efficiency that otherwise would not be possible.
Overall, is Norprint satisfied with SISTRADE as a technology supplier?
This is a crucial area for the company and therefore we must be confident in supplier. I cannot imagine that someone buys a management system without having a relationship of trust with the supplier. The fact that Norprint has been updating and buying new modules of the software is more than an evident reason to show that we are very satisfied.
SISTRADE is a Portuguese company, did it in any way influence your choice of partner?
No, it did not. In the 90s, we approached an English company, the approach did not go well. With SISTRADE, we are neighbours, we maintain a very close connection and we are proud to work with a company that is now all over the world. SISTRADE draws out a lot from companies, knowing what they really need and I want to believe that Norprint made a contribution to software for the book printing area. There were many hours of joint work that brought positive results for Norprint and then for other customers who also benefited from this information.
Sistrade software allows managing the estimating and its transformation into job orders. Was this a crucial aspect in the decision process to opt for Sistrade?
This is a key part of the process. We are living difficult times when it comes to raw materials, mainly due to scarcity, which causes very long delivery times. There is a complete paradigm shift here, as before the pandemic, we were living a phase when we were buying raw material just-in-time and that is no longer possible today. We used to buy the raw material immediately after receiving the order. The stocking has very high costs and needs available space. At Norprint we have a relationship with some editorial clients where we practically provide services, in these cases, the raw material is provided directly by the client who sends us stock for six months of production, and this obliges us to have a lot of space available. The management of all this has to be done in a computerized way because we have to permanently account for our inventory to tax authorities and to clients about their inventory. And in this aspect, Sistrade has evolved a lot to monitor and respond to all these new issues.
As President of APIGRAF, do you consider that the solutions offered by SISTRADE are essential for digitization in the production process?
I can freely say that Sistrade product will not be easy to implement for some companies, especially micro-companies, with 5 or 10 employees, which turns out to be the majority of APIGRAF members and the national companies. It is not easy for a company to have internal skills to work with Sistrade system and have the scale to train people in this area. Despite these contingencies, a group of APIGRAF members that are micro-enterprises can buy specific modules for a specific situation or look for alternatives better suited to what they want.
Do you consider that the motto of this SISTRADE event - Digital Transformation and the future of companies - is in line with what APIGRAF foresees as the impact of “Bazooka” to support companies?
Yes, we are alert, one of our partner companies monitors the Community Support Frameworks and is already making reports analysing the “Bazooka” effect and everything that our members can immediately benefit from. The information on this matter was the main topic of a recent meeting of the National Directorate of APIGRAF. We host webinars to inform members about the PRR – Recovery and Resilience Plan – about where and how we can take advantage of these incentives. It is a guarantee, however, that there are funds dedicated to the area of digitization and that they can and should be used.
What are your perspectives as a businessman and president of APIGRAF for the coming months which include 2021/2022?
It is still very risky to make any forecasts because at APIGRAF at the end of 2020 we designed some scenarios for 2021 that did not happen in the end. At Norprint we are getting ready to invest. We may have to delay these investments a little, but we are already internally making the business plan for different investments in a number of areas. We will give a different vocation to Brand Paper, a company from the group that today provides format cutting services for other printers and paper companies and that will invest and diversify into other business areas. This company also specializes and will move towards new turnkey projects, building printing units, already counting two projects in Africa, and is currently carrying out the third one. At Norprint, we are going to make a slight change in production, investing even more in the environmental area, in certifications, and in the area of energy, with the installation of solar panels. There is a whole set of new investments not directly related to the production area that is equally important for the company.
Did the pandemic force Norprint to rethink the company and the business model?
Yes, we have never stopped and we were adjusting everything according to the events. For example, the investment in Sprint in Lisbon was not planned for the moment. I created Sprint in 2001 and it was designed for an eventual digital project but it was mainly a commercial project. We decided to go ahead with a project from scratch, which is ongoing since we had unused space in Lisbon and we wanted to diversify. We have autonomous facilities in Lisbon, which produce for markets other than Norprint’s and we already realized that there are capital gains since Sprint can print for Norprint and vice versa.
What keywords define Norprint?
What characterizes Norprint is what we do within our company because this is what makes any customer that enters Norprint, never leave. We naturally establish a relationship with people and companies, based on rigor, transparency, and even the fact that we know how to say no. Norprint is celebrating 30 years of existence and we have a set of activities that we carry out as a team. We celebrate 30 years of activity only in December 2022 and we celebrate it with our customers. In addition to all this, we are going through a phased handover to the next generation, as my children are managing the companies, this new blood is essential as it adds value.
How do you compare the year of 2021 with the previous year of pandemics?
The year 2019 was the best year ever for Norprint and we ended up testing the team’s production capacity and endurance and all these items proved positive. In 2020, we registered a drop in activity of around 20%, which was excellent in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Do you want to leave a message for all your fellow members as President of APIGRAF?
In this industry, we were caught off guard by the pandemic with ongoing investments and we had to manage to the best of our abilities. This is a capital-intensive sector investing millions, which is reflected in the instalments that each company has to pay. I want to leave a message not as President of APIGRAF, but as a printing industry businessman. I believe that there is an error made by some businessmen who lower prices whenever they are faced with a situation of production loss. We all know that when we lower prices, we are never able to raise them again because the customer gets used to low prices. This destroys the market and is unfair competition because the option to get the machines up and running at any cost is not the best solution in most situations.
Do you believe that businessmen in the printing industry can be more corporatist, create partnerships and synergies?
I have always defended that. Norprint has excellent partnerships with several printing companies that go very well. We share work, we are suppliers, we are clients of printing companies and I believe that this could be even better, especially in terms of investment in certain equipment. We lose a lot in not sharing, as we record an excess of installed capacity, which is reflected in prices that, in some cases, are practiced below reasonable. The market is already used to exploring this issue, and the entrepreneurs who are lowering the prices are to blame, as a result of a lack of dialogue and cooperation. We should all cooperate more, create synergies in the production process and even improve the profitability of the equipment.