In an interview Federico Giudiceandrea explains what it was which led to the development of the product, what the future looks like for the South Tyrol timber sector, and what it takes to lead a successful firm such as Microtec.
Federico Giudiceandrea is CEO of the firm Microtec. The business located in Brixen-Bressanone is famous all over the world for its innovative solutions in timber scanning and has won numerous awards with its CT Log.)
Signor Giudiceandrea, your Computer Tomography for Round Timber (in short, CT Log) has revolutionised the timber sector all over the world. Can you tell us what it was that led you to develop this innovative system?
The dream that you could look right inside a tree trunk was of course every sawyer’s dream. To know what is going on in the innards of the trunk, to know what you will be able to do with it before you’ve begun to cut it. Microtec brought to market the first ever multi-sensor x-ray scanner in 1995, and this could deliver two-dimensional images. At that time, the first tree trunks were being scanned and documented in Sweden using medical computer tomography. We formed partnerships with several research institutes, universities and specialists in mechanics as well as with some visionary clients. Public funding for these research projects was equally important in getting the development going.
What tips, tricks and advice would you like to share with young entrepreneurs from South Tyrol?
Put people at the centre of your business, and preferably develop solutions together with your clients. Start with the outcome which will solve your client’s problem, and then work back to the technology which will achieve this. Have the courage to make mistakes, but don’t give up. Success, as Edison said, is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. Nothing is simple, but nothing is impossible.
What potential do you see in the South Tyrol timber sector? What does its future look like?
The South Tyrol timber sector has great potential for growth, especially if it concentrates on the production of high value timber and timber products. That means growth in the sense of higher quality rather than higher volume. Quality not quantity. Our globalised market is overrun with cheaper products from countries where prices for labour and raw materials are lower. South Tyrol needs to differentiate itself in a targeted way and to specialise. Our timber scanner can help us get the best out of every log and every plank.
What advantages, and specifically what added value, can the introduction of CT Log bring to the sawmill industry?
Independent studies talk about an added value of 8 to 15 per cent. That is enormous, when you consider that just the cost of purchasing round timber for a large sawmill can be up to 100 million euros a year. And on top of that, you can be quite sure that the maximum will be cut out of every tree trunk, leading to higher quality products and less waste. My vision is that in 10 years’ time every log will be put through a CT Log. To be honest, would you let yourself be cut open without the benefit of a CT scan?
What were the challenges which you and your product development team encountered?
The development of the CT Log scanner took over 10 years. There were numerous challenges which would take more time to go over than we have available for this interview. We were compelled to reach the limits of what was possible in all areas of technology. In sensor technology, mechanics, xray technology, not forgetting software. But it was only when we had the breakthrough in maths with Professor Alexander Katsevich’s algorithm, that this high speed industrial scanner became a possibilty. Even the experts were in doubt for some time as to whether we would ever be able to realise this idea successfully. Today there are many branches of industry – including those outside of the timber sector – showing great interest in this machine, which suggests new market potential and growth for us.
“My vision is that in 10 years’ time every log will be put through a CT Log.”
CT Log – Computerized tomograph for round wood
The CT Log works with a charging frequency of 180 meters per minute
This innovative technology accurately describes internal errors
The CT Log creates a complete reconstruction of the trunk in 3D and designs a virtual image of the cutting pattern
The x-ray sensor rotates 360° around the trunk
CT Log installation at Torgau, Germania
With laser sensors and cameras developed in-house, Goldeneye detects errors in the tables
CT Log control-center