Our Focus on Italy visit to impregnation technology specialist Tocchio came after a busy year for the company.

Not only had it just returned from the Ligna 2015 exhibition, but it had also completed 12 months of intense redesign work on its technology, following the formation of a new company after a restructuring process.

General manager Umberto Tocchio told WBPI that the new company – Tocchio International srl – saw the Tocchio family now holding 50% ownership in the company.

Mr Tocchio said a period of restructuring from the end of 2013 had been necessary following the global recession.

"We are based in the same building and have the same activities," said Mr Tocchio.

"And we are doing quite well." Tocchio has more than 300 plants installed worldwide, treating various materials, not only for the wood based panel industry, but for other sectors as well. Plant installations made by the company around the world include South America, Russia, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Its impregnation and coating plants treat the webs with thermosetting resins such as melamine, urea, acrylic and phenolic resins. These are applied on decor, kraft, balancing or overlay papers, pressed onto particleboard, MDF or HDF panels, or they are used for the production of laminates such as CPL, HPL, or finish foil, as well as edge banding and high-resistance laminate flooring.

Individual components on its lines typically include an edge trimming device, a coating station, dryers, cooling station, rotary cutter and stacker.

Plants have a working speed of up to 300m per minute, while the web width varies from 500-3600mm.

All the machines are planned, manufactured and assembled in the Vigevano offices and factory.

Tocchio product engineer Fabio Vaglino said the company had redesigned its technology, partly so that it could offer a more cost-effective solution to compete with its Chinese competitors.

"Our enquiries used to be based around the premise ‘we must go faster’, but new enquiries are ‘it must cost less’," said Mr Vaglino.

"We needed to reorganise our production, so we redesigned our machines. The product was over-engineered – a machine with a speed of 40m/min could actually go up to 70m/min."

Tocchio spent time examining the market, visiting customers and analysing those customers’ technology requirements.

Examples of changes to its impregnation lines include a redesigned dryer.

"Aesthetically, nothing has changed, but inside we have changed details to make it easy for installation and assembly," said the product engineer.

Extra insulation has been added to improve energy efficiency, maintain precise temperatures, and aid product quality.

Such improvements align Tocchio closely with one of Ligna’s key themes – that of energy-saving – with the company estimating customers could save up to 20-25% of energy annually, due to that redesign.

Mr Vaglino said trials of the new line have taken place with customers and the first fully-redesigned plant will be installed soon.

At Ligna, Tocchio shared its capabilities to meet latest industry trends, which include a desire for less mass production and a need to manage the paper in small production runs, with some customers wanting just 30-50 sheets at a time.

This includes showing how the company can help customers to optimise the production and setting of machines to prevent wastage of paper, which then results in wasted raw materials, manpower and energy.

Tocchio can also supply a fully-automatic warehousing system which supplies reels to machines automatically. It has also improved its control system to further boost stability of the production processes, and measurement of temperature, to ultimately improve product quality.

The company identified thick HPL as an interesting current market, with customers typically wanting to specify high-speed lines of about 2-300m/min.

Tocchio says that even the Chinese market is presenting possibilities for the future, due to the trend towards Chinese customers looking for more high technology.