Still pressing ahead14 August 2012
A company founded even before the country of Italy has reinvented itself over the years and is still an important press maker. This is the story of today’s Pagnoni Impianti, still in business after 164 years
Michele Pagnoni heads up the technical department of the family business Pagnoni Impianti and is one member of a family that is continuing to strive to keep this long-established technology business relevant to today's market.
Dr Pagnoni's father and uncle head the business, which is located in Aicurzio, near Monza in northern Italy.
"Western Europe was our main market for the last 10 to 15 years but today it has stopped dead, with no money or credit to fund a new press line, which costs a minimum of half a million euros," said Dr Michele Pagnoni. "Now our main market is eastern Europe and we are doing a lot of work in Russia. Russia is a difficult market to enter but when you find the right people, you can do good business.
"For instance, last year we installed a big line for high pressure laminate [HPL] production in a town mid-way between Moscow and St Petersburg, with a 10-opening hot press."
Dr Pagnoni said the line was installed in a remarkably short time and that the customer is very happy with it.
"This is a very good reference for us and we are now discussing other contracts in Russia for HPL lines and for short-cycle lines [SCL] for low pressure melamine panels [LPM]," said Dr Pagnoni.
"In today's market, we have to focus on low prices and high quality of machinery and start-up, together with good after-sales service - the whole package.
"That's why Pagnoni has in recent years moved towards more standardised, modular lines. It was not so easy, but I think we have succeeded for SCL and HPL lines," he said.
In the HPL market, Pagnoni has developed new methods, especially for handling around the press line, "simply and effectively". This newly-developed line is branded 'Farline'.
"We are now installing such a line in Turkey, with a 16-daylight press and employing that same philosophy of simple, effective and as cheap as possible," said Dr Pagnoni.
"We are developing the electronics and giving strong support to our customers in that area, to give them high flexibility in setting up the line for different products.
"In the SCL market, we have developed in the last 10 years a standard line called 'Selecta' and we have sold several of these lines, which again have the philosophy of simplicity in use, and we are focusing on the developing markets such as Iran, northern Africa and Russia. Some of these countries have no skilled operators yet, so the lines do need to be simple to use.
"But people's skills are developing and these companies then look for more capacity so we have developed another new line called 'Gemina'. This can operate at 120 cycles per hour, with two 8 x 4ft panels per cycle."
China is another target market for Pagnoni and it plans to exhibit at the WoodmacChina show in Shanghai in March 2013.
"The Chinese want European quality at a good price and we will offer that," said Michele Pagnoni.
The company also makes single-, double-and multi-opening presses for particleboard and MDF manufacture for capacities of 50-1,000m3/day, with features such as electronic space bars to control the required board thickness without manual operations; new hydraulic circuits to minimise dead time and to regulate the pressing according to the board size; and the continuous pre-compressor.
At the time of my visit in June the company was installing a 30m-long press in Belaruss for MDF production, with a design capacity of around 450m3/day.
Pagnoni is supplying only the press to that project, but is cooperating with a pool of Italian machinery suppliers to be able to supply complete lines at a good price.
The company also still makes cold and hot presses for plywood manufacture, as it has done since the 19th century, and can update all types of press lines.
Pagnoni is also known for its 'Easylam' continuous presses for the surfacing of panels and manufacture of doors. These are not for panel manufacture, or for continuous pressure laminate, but for engineered flooring production and decorative panel surfacing, such as laminate application, veneering and so on.
"The maximum pressure exerted by our continuous press is 10kg/cm2 so it is suitable for any process that can utilise this pressure," said Dr Pagnoni. "The continuous press is more flexible than a multi-opening one and offers a higher capacity."
"These are difficult times, but I am very optimistic about the future," he said. "We are a small business today, with 30 to 40 employees, which means we are more flexible than the big companies.
"We are all working very hard in this company and we will be successful - there are many opportunities to be pursued."