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Company Spotlight: Emmebi Celebrates Its 50th Year

Continued Focus on Family and Innovation

Figure 1. Achille Mauro, founder of Emmebi.
Figure 1. Achille Mauro, founder of Emmebi.

Emmebi s.r.l., located in Pavia di Udine, Italy, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The company was started in 1972 by Achille Mauro (Figure 1), who brought his experience and knowledge from the finishing sector to the business. As early as the 1960s, Achille saw an opportunity for an aluminum business and designed and built a prototype polishing machine in his own garage. The prototype worked well, but it was so big that a garage wall had to be taken down to get the polisher out of the garage.

The first machines sold by Emmebi were polishers for aluminum extrusions and throughout the decades since, the company has smoothly shifted gears along with the changing demands from the extrusion industry. For instance, the company began manufacturing machines for finishing aluminum profiles in the 1970s, and in the 1980s, they began constructing packaging lines, all in response to customer needs. Since then, Emmebi has been designing, manufacturing, and installing technologies for the finishing, packaging, and handling of aluminum profiles.

The company was still relatively small during its first several decades, with Elena and Albert Mauro, son and daughter of the founder stepping into positions for marketing and production, respectively. When Elena’s husband, Roberto Fadini, a software technician, entered the company it was still a rather small-scale business. However, by 2000, Emmebi began growing as they added more equipment to their product line. In the last 20 years, the company went from a $2 million yearly income to almost $15 million.

Fifty years since its inception, the company is still family-owned, with Achille’s descendants now taking the helm. Even now, Achille himself comes to work every day and sits on the board.

Technological Advancement

Packaging has been a specialty of Emmebi, and their designs keep improving to match the fast pace of global technology. In 1998, Fadini and Mark Fields (Bonnell) had an idea: a machine to automatically place wood battens during the stretch wrapping of master bundles. After developing this concept, it was clear that no steel strap was necessary, because stretch film tightened the master bundle with better results in terms of stability during shipment. Wood was placed on top and underneath the bundle to help operators in stocking and loading/unloading the profiles. The system also reduced material waste, as there was no unnecessary extra strap, which was difficult to store and handle.

In the process of the spiral stretch wrapping of the bundle, two pre-cut wood battens are placed on top and underneath the bundle, in fixed positions that are determined by the customers’ requests. The battens are stretch wrapped on the bundle several times to prevent them from moving. The cycle then continues with the wrapping of the bundle up to the next wood batten. The elastic properties of the stretch plastic film increase the tightness of the bundle. In fact, during the wrapping operation, the film is pre-stretched by an automatic device, so after application, the film tightens the bundle more and more. The tension of this packaging system is more efficient than the standard plastic strapping with a homogeneous distribution of the tension, avoiding stress points where the old strapping system may have damaged the external surface of the profiles. This process reduces the number of wood battens, making the concept more eco-friendly.

In Italy, Emmebi introduced spiral stretch wrapping of master bundles in the late ‘90s, with a significant presence from year 2000. The first Italian company to test the new wrapping technology was LT Alluminio in 2004. After years of using machines with traditional loading, the first wood batten loader with reverse loading capabilities was installed (Figure 2).

Figure 2. New stretch wrapping systems insert wood battens for better stability of the bundle.
Figure 2. New stretch wrapping systems insert wood battens for better stability of the bundle.

In the new system, battens were loaded with a movement contrary to the bundle’s position. This technological development reduced the problems experienced in previous installations with short bundles, namely, issues like bundles falling and bundle misalignment of the wood battens. Soon, many customers began changing all their packing lines to bundles using this new system, and by the mid-2000s, this became a new packaging standard for extruders.

“Once we developed the equipment, one of the biggest innovations we achieved was when we redid our stretch wrapping machine for master bundles,” said Raffaele D’Andrea, technical sales manager at Emmebi. “That completely changed the way aluminum was packaged.”

Robotic System for Safe Profile Packaging

In 2010, the company began implementing logistics with high-speed equipment and integrated layouts, continuously improving their product to meet the standards of the times. By 2020, the company was offering their state-of-the-art eVision robotic packaging system for extruded aluminum (Figure 3). The innovative system is able to gauge the profile, and consider its specific shape to pack a master bundle of extrusions with customized profile orientations and proper surface protections.

Figure 3. The eVision robotic packaging system for aluminum profiles.
Figure 3. The eVision robotic packaging system for aluminum profiles.

Historically, the packaging of extruded aluminum and its preparation for transport were operations that were carried out manually. The variation of extrusions, along with multiple ways of forming a bundle required a particular dexterity and specific expertise. Moreover, it was a labor-intensive operation that had a significant impact on production costs.

The eVision system is able to remove any human operators from the packaging operation. The robot can see the shape of the profiles and define their position in space. After taking into consideration the different variables, the system can pack a bundle correctly for its specific profile orientations to protect the surfaces as well as possible.

Digital Logistics

Moving forward, the company’s focus will be on logistically integrating their robotic packaging lines. To take full advantage of the potential of system tracking, information, and data collection, Emmebi will work on integrating data collection systems. So, instead of just software collecting data from three different places in the line, the system will link the data together so it can be transferred along the three centers and made more useful. This includes developing layouts, concepts, and projects where there is integration between the different phases of production. “In 2023, we are going to have a number of projects where we do not only the packaging, but the integration between the other lines and the packaging tool,” said D’Andrea. “It’s an interesting challenge.”

Family Company

The company dedicates a lot of its success to its willingness to react to a changing market, with a focus on research and development, and more importantly, on the improvement of the operator safety. Another strength of the company is their after sales service. The job doesn’t finish with the commissioning of the lines, but rather it continues with improvement and assistance throughout the years. “Basically, every idea that comes up from the team or the customer gets a shot,” said D’Andrea. “From a small innovation on one machine that improves performance, for example, to a completely new idea.”

Further, a strong local network allows Emmebi to build everything in house with their sub-suppliers in the nearby vicinity. Finally, the company sees their customers, not just as people who buy equipment, but more as business partners whose feedback helps them to keep changing and improving their offerings.

D’Andrea explained that the entire company feels like a family and a lot of their success can be attributed to this model. This support and camaraderie drives the employees of Emmebi to develop new ideas. “When your ideas get all the way to the research and development department, that makes you feel very integrated into the company,” he said.

This supportive family feeling is something that’s extended all the way to the aluminum suppliers they work with. “The way we approach the business is, we see our customers as friends, basically working as partners along with us,” said D’Andrea. “That’s why our event booths have prosciutto and wine. We enjoy spending time with our customers, and we want to make it joyful. So, the connection internally, as well as the external relationships we have are the core of the company, the rest works around it.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Light Metal Age. To receive the current issue, please subscribe.

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