Fifty years in the forefront of corona and plasma treatment: Ferrarini & Benelli celebrate with a great festive event and tell of how the development of the company and that of the technology intertwined.
«In the early sixties I was a partner in a company that produced plastic film and plastic bags. The extruders had just begun to use the first rudimentary, low frequency surface treatments. In order to activate the surfaces, generators with transformers sprinkle discharged “small lightning strikes” through an electrode. Despite the slow speed, the material was often punctured and the frequent short circuits, that occurred repeatedly, ended up by burning the transformer and compromising the line».
The appearance of a new technology which responded to an important need and at the same time showed obvious limitations, led to the creation of Ferrarini & Benelli. Diego Benelli remembers those years and says: «In order to address the dual challenge of increasing the frequency (with the aim of optimizing the treatment) and improving the components, I turned to Ezio Ferrarini, who had a remarkable technical expertise, for help. Together we designed a more powerful and reliable system, based on the use of triodes (which oscillated at 1,500 Hz). And after two years of successful market testing, in 1965 we founded Ferrarini & Benelli». Everything followed on from that.
After those of the early years, what other innovations have marked the life of the company? Our industry has basically experienced three evolutionary stages: the transition from the electro technical components to the electronic ones (SCR and their management); the advent of digital technology and software that revolutionized the generators and multiplied the operational possibilities of corona treatment; and lastly the more recent plasma treatment.
To what does Ferrarini & Benelli owe its success to?
To having realised the importance of internationalisation, to having built over time relationships of trust with major manufacturers who today install our systems and to constant technological innovation.
But also to the contribution of my daughter Claudia, who after obtaining an industrial degree and completing a specialization course in France, decided to return to Italy to help me. On the one hand she supported those in charge of the sales, administration and technology; and on the other she studied applied technology. With this pragmatic and cross-cutting approach Claudia rapidly earned the trust of everyone in the company and gave a great boost to its development.
What future does corona treatment have?
The development of materials with ever greater characteristics of resistance, recyclability, anti-fog etc., the development of new multilayer material, the advent of nanotechnology, the need to minimize costs… R&D is constantly evolving and poses growing challenges to companies that operate in the field of corona treatment. Which must not only be able to continually renew their technology but also be able offer themselves to the market with great flexibility and dynamism: two qualities which have now become indispensable.
What does plasma treatment represent for F&B?
An important development, which allows us to capitalise on our expertise in the field of surface treatment, even outside the world of packaging. Thanks to the ability to deal with three-dimensional objects, plasma treatment enables one to operate in the automotive, medical and conduit sectors and many other segments besides.
What project are you working on?
I am currently concentrating on a specific application for papermills for equipping high performance and high speed extrusion coating lines (up to 500 m/min), which must ensure maximum reliability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The corona treatment which we are developing offers high performance thanks to the special, specifically designed electrodes, and minimizes the risks of stoppages due to the control and “smart” management of the generator power, where dedicated digital system processing allows us to achieve excellent results.
Your next objectives?
Ferrarini & Benelli has gained a good standing worldwide in terms of its name and market share. However, ours is an industry which is continuously on the move. Each new problem, every single need stimulates the search for a solution, the study of new products or the improvement of existing ones. These are our daily goals and motives for satisfaction.
What gift would you ask for these first 50 years?
A further 50 years of growth, experienced in accordance to the principles which I have tried to convey to everyone in the company: to work seriously and honestly, propose high-tech top quality products, ensure continued service to customers over time, and continue to experience the challenges of the market as opportunities for continuous improvement.
Dinner with Diego (relations that last)
The shirt bearing the logo of the company’s fiftieth anniversary, worn for the group photo by the attached Ferrarini & Benelli employees, but also by the champions of the Nordmeccanica Volley girl’s team, exceptional mascottes accompanied by a burst of youthful fun and enthusiasm.
Thus began, in its Romanego headquarters, September 25th, the anniversary celebration of the company founded in 1965 by Diego Benelli. And it carried on into the afternoon with the visit to the works, guided by Claudia Benelli, to show customers how the Cremonese company manages to maintain its promise of quality, high tech and the customisation of its surface treatment systems, as well as timely deliveries, in Italy and abroad, this also thanks to a network of partners that ensures availability of spare parts worldwide wherever and whenever they are needed.
But it was in the evening that the hundred and over guests of Diego Benelli gathered together, bound by personal ties of respect and faith that the entrepreneur and his daughter Claudia have managed to weave with all, employees, suppliers and customers, sturdy and vivacious enough to stand the test of time. The climate was warmed by the dinner at Villa San Michele, in the lush green of southern Lombardy, in a warm evening that favoured conviviality. The wonderful park, the live music, the informal atmosphere created a real event, crowned by the show given by magician Francesco Scimemi, who astounded onlookers who readily gave way to guffaws of hearty laughter.