Initially, the company’s emphasis was solely on particleboard production – the founder’s expertise came from a career in the particleboard manufacturing sector, giving him a unique understanding of the requirements of that industry – but today its products are to be found in MDF and OSB factories as well.
With the retirement of Mr Paladin in 2006, the management structure of the company changed with Mr Dal Ben, shareholder of the company since 1979, assuming the role of managing director and his son Andrea, also a director of the company, taking responsibility for production, technical matters and purchasing and quality control.
“With our new management set-up, the company is continuing its growth and becoming stronger and stronger in the market,said Antonio Dal Ben. “The last two years have been particularly good and 2009 is also looking very promising.”
Being ‘joined at the hip’ to another Italian firm, Imal, also gives the two companies synergies in both R&D and product offerings. This year saw what the company says is its long-standing commitment to quality confirmed with the award of ISO9001:2000 certification. Increasing regulation of every industry is the tendency in today’s safety-conscious environment and the ATEX explosion regulations have a particular relevance in all Pal’s fields of operation.
These regulations affect the supply and use of equipment in potentially flammable atmospheres (ATmosphere EXplosive) – and areas where dust is generated carry a particularly high risk. “We have just completed a study of the ATEX regulations to see what we have to propose to customers with regard to the engineering of their whole plant – not just the individual machines,explained Andrea Dal Ben. “The customer has to give us information if he is proposing to install machinery in an ATEX area or not and whether those machines are ATEX certified or not.”
The regulations came into force in 2006 and Pal has been working on compliance since 2003. “Each project has to be certified both machine-by-machine and as a complete project,said Mr Dal Ben. “This study took a lot of effort and we modified all our machines where necessary to comply with ATEX. But the area between the machines is also important and we can assess that for the client too, starting from the layout stage – you can’t install the protection afterwards – and including such things as the choice of conveyors.”
In the last year, Pal has patented three new machines, according to sales manager Alessandro Marcolin. First was the ACC, the Air Chip Cleaner. This is designed to remove the heavy pollutants from the stream of ‘wet’ chips – that is, before drying. These chips can be from fresh wood at 100% moisture content (usually for MDF production) or recycled wood at around 30% (for particleboard). In the case of MDF, this represents an alternative to a wet cleaning system. Presented for the first time at the Ligna exhibition in Germany in 2007, Pal has experienced some success with the ACC as nine machines have already been sold: four to Duratex of Brazil; two to Henderson of Australia; one to Shelman of Greece; and two to Tokyo Board, Japan. Other projects were currently under final negotiation at the time of WBPI’s visit to Ponte di Piave in mid-June.
The second new machine is called ‘Metal Killer’, a mechanical separation system with several detectors for ferrous and non-ferrous metals and stainless steel. Every detector covers a specific small area of the machine and each has its own mechanical system to remove the identified pollutants in a two-stage process. “The Metal Killer can replace two machines – ferrous and non-ferrous separators – while also adding the ability to remove stainless steel. This reduces both capital cost and, importantly these days, energy consumption,said Mr Marcolin. The third new machine is the Desander featured at the Xylexpo exhibition in Milan in May this year. This machine is designed to remove sand/silica from the dust flow before the boiler in an energy system, thus avoiding expensive downtime caused by ‘glass’ formation in the combustion chamber.
Also new is the centrifugal cleaner for fines from MDF and particleboard chips and for recycled particles. The centrifugal cleaner is also offered mated to an integrated cleaning unit with an additional wind sifter. This machine is able to remove the sand from the fine fraction with high efficiency, says Pal, thus saving a large amount of wood which would otherwise be wasted. “What we wanted to design were machines to reduce energy consumption, maintenance and wear and to take care about the environment in terms of dust, noise and any other pollution and to limit the risk of fire and explosion as much as possible,explained Andrea Dal Ben.
Pal also offers a complete Cleaning Tower concept for processing chips from waste wood. This combined unit reduces the footprint required for individual cleaning machines and combines two ACCs (one for micro- and one for macro-chips) with Pal’s famous Dynascreen chip screening system, the Metal Killer and the centrifugal cleaner, all in the one tower. There are of course no conveyors between the close-coupled machines, as well as there being only one infeed for dirty chips, one outfeed for clean chips and one outfeed for the extracted pollutants.
The claimed efficiency of the cleaning system is 90-95%, with a low content of wood particles in the rejected fractions, saving of wood by cleaning even the very fine fraction, reduced absorbed power to 5-6kW/tonne, reduced maintenance costs and low investment cost. Another, rather different, product line for Pal is in silo extractors for large silos of 3,000 to 10,000m3 capacity and up to 25m diameter. The driving system is all hydraulic. “This is unique to us and it is the only system meeting all ATEX requirements – others use gearboxes and motors rotating with the extractor, thus offering the potential for sparks,said Andrea Dal Ben.
In the OSB industry, last year Pal supplied a Quadradyn screen to Kronoply, Heiligengrabbe, Germany to replace its drum screen and this year has supplied a second machine to the same site for its second drying line. Kronospan in Brasov, Romania has ordered a similar line, while the same group’s Bolderaja mill in Riga, Latvia has a Pal line for its second dryer (the first was supplied last year). Recent orders for MDF lines include Eucatex Brazil, where Pal supplied everything from log yard to before the digester; Kronospan Beijing, where the whole dry-cleaning system for MDF was supplied; Indonesian-owned company Rimbunan Hijau of Russia had a complete new dry-cleaning system; and Starwood of Turkey also ordered the same system for its two MDF lines.
Again in Russia, Partner Tomsk ordered the same system, while Rusplitprom ordered a new cleaning system for its existing multi-opening line. For particleboard, Fibraplac, Berneck, Satipel and Masisa, all in Brazil, have placed orders this year, as have Kastamonu and Yildiz Sunta of Turkey and PT Rimba of Indonesia.
The foregoing are just samples of Pal’s substantial international order book, with orders coming through the major OEMs such as Dieffenbacher and Siempelkamp and, increasingly, direct from the panel makers themselves. For the future, Antonio Dal Ben said his company would develop further its international markets, while consolidating and promoting its current systems and of course continuing with its extensive R&D activities in its large, dedicated facility. “There are still a lot more ideas to come from there,said the managing director tantalizingly. “All our production comes from our experience and our experience comes from our R&D laboratory – we always test machines before taking them to an industrial scale and that is a big part of our success.