INTERVIEW TO FEDERICO VINCENZI – CEO OF COMARK SRL
Comark has received on April month the Industria Felix award. Comark has been appointed among the 15 companies of the Friuli region to be the best one in management performance and financial reliability. How did you achieve the above-mentioned result?
In 1996, the founder Gianni Vincenzi, my father, set up a consulting company that dealt with technological systems for traffic. A few years later I joined him too and together we realized that the Italian market urgently needed a product designed specifically for traffic. This is how the idea of developing sensors for this sector was born. My father continued to take care of the Sales Department, while I developed the software and a relative of ours implemented the electronic and mechanical part. Our place of work? Our home’s garage. Since that time, we have continued to grow both in terms of staff and turnover, we moved into a real office and in 2019 we bought our current headquarters. I would say that the secret is to believe in it, to work hard, to make the company grow organically. Today we can proudly say that Comark is financed by its own means, and we have never applied for loans.
Can you explain in very simple words what Comark does?
In very simple words, Comark deals with "counting" and "classifying" the vehicles traveling on the roads and highways both for statistical purposes and to make the lives of drivers more sustainable. We have several systems that allow you to prevent possible queues, rather than avoiding that a heavy vehicle collides against a bridge or an underpass or even a car colliding on the highway.
What are the best-selling products and systems?
The best-selling products are traffic detection sensors that use laser scanner technology that creates a high-definition three-dimensional image of vehicles (called "point cloud"). Our software is able to analyze and automatically determine the size, type of vehicle and speed.
Why choosing the technology mentioned as "LIDAR or Laser Scanner"?
Lidar or laser scanner sensors are very precise, also thanks to our software analysis with artificial intelligence. The sensor classifies the type of vehicle. Differentiate a car from a bus, a simple truck or a truck with a trailer. The sensors can also be used in highways or to avoid accidents (for example, to detect trucks that are too high to pass through a tunnel or under a bridge).
What impact had the COVID – 19 on Comark?
On the contrary to many companies, Comark made several investments during that time. In fact, during the first stage of Covid pandemic, we have developed a people counter for shops, supermarkets, swimming pools, canteens and companies. The system displays, through a monitor, the entrance and exit of people and once the maximum capacity has been reached, it sends a signal to the control center.
We also took the opportunity to further develop the sensor for cycle paths, also known as "bikecounter" which detects the passage of cyclists and distinguishes them from pedestrians. Another strong point: cyclists can pass even in close groups and the sensor is equally able to count them correctly.
Are the sensors used only for traffic purposes?
Absolutely not. For some years we have been selling sensors for detecting parking spaces occupied in external car parks to inform drivers where they can find space, but also to monitor parking time. They are new generation sensors that use an IOT (Internet of Things) communication technology that allows data to be transmitted at a greater distance, with a reduced power consumption, compared with the traditional technologies.
What are the strategies used by your company?
We have always tried to develop new technologies. We try to never stop research and development. In fact, we have several ideas and products in work in progress that will enrich our portfolio. In addition, we have been collaborating for years with universities, for example with University of Udine and with Politecnico di Milano, to bring new skills to the company such as, for example, the artificial intelligence that we use in our software. Of course, we also make use of technical advice.
What are your main markets?
Italy is a very important market. Over the past ten years we have worked hard to find new markets abroad. It was not easy, especially at the beginning, as we had limited resources and the brand COMARK was not known. I often had to travel for several weeks in which, once I made the intercontinental trip, I also moved to 4-5 countries. We gradually managed to create a network of partners and customers in Europe, Asia and South America. We are also starting to operate in Africa. In the meantime, COMARK has begun to be known and a positive aspect is that a sort of virtuous circle has been created, the more you are present abroad, the more references there are to bring to the new countries you want to reach.
What are your short- and long-term projects?
In the short term, we want to strengthen our presence in the “Free flow” market. This is a new technology used for the motorway toll that allows you to apply the rate due without having to slow down simply by detecting the type of vehicle that passes under the toll. This eliminates the need for toll stations and avoids queues.
The biggest technological challenge is to count and classify with very high precision, with vehicles passing at high speed, doing it reliable in all traffic and weather conditions.
Another important milestone will be to enter the market for safety systems, always in mobility. In fact, we are developing a sensor that will increase the safety of pedestrians, cyclists or people with scooters who pass through the streets or cycle paths. We would like to give our contribution in limiting as much as possible accidents due to limited visibility of these subjects.
In the medium to long term, we would like to take advantage of our traffic sensor know-how and transfer it to other areas as well.
What is your greatest strength?
Surely the fact of having a young, very prepared, competent and concrete team that is giving assistance and support to the customer almost in real time, helping him in the various project phases. For example, we initially supply products, then by consolidating relationships and acquiring the customer's trust we supply systems up to commissioning solutions to be developed in collaboration with our main customers. For us it is very important to provide a good service to customers both in the first contact phase and in the installation and post-supply phase. This feature is often recognized by large customers / system integrators who reward us for the timeliness and quality of the service.