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A sub-contractor of Bologna decided to invest on quality and technology to remain competitive. The choice was made thanks to a well-known supplier of grinding systems who knew how to always guarantee the right solutions.

If there is a unique characteristics of the Italian manufacturing industry,  it can be found in the so-called  “industrial districts”, i.e. the concentration and growth, in a well-defined area, of a large number of firms specialized at excellent levels in making a certain product.

The Bologna area is no exception to this phenomenon being not only one of the most industrialized and productive areas in Italy and in Europe, but it is also characterized by an important district of precision mechanics.

The presence in the city of the Two Towers of important industries in the mechanic field and many industrial machines producers, has favored the growth of a rich and varied ancillary industry, made up of medium and small companies having a vocation for mechanical precision processing, working as sub-suppliers and on behalf of bigger companies.

 

Grinding specialists

F.P. Fantuzzi of Zola Predosa (BO) is an example of what the Bologna district offers. It is a small subcontractor company which has always chosen grinding as its operative sector.

During the last forty years, F.P. Fantuzzi has matured a very deep knowledge and experience in the field of high performance finishing of mechanical precision components, guaranteeing quality and rapidity in the grinding processing of internal and external diameters, on surface and threads.

At the moment,  F.P. Fantuzzi has a group of about fifteen employees and partners, all engaged in the company’s fleet of machines in use, to supply precision grinded components to very famous and esteemed companies such as Lavin of the Marzocchi Pumps Group, STM Reducers, Varvel Riduttori, Melo, Benincasa, Oci, Imas e Cumatec, as well as some pumps constructors.

A client portfolio which, how the owner Paolo Fantuzzi wishes to emphasize, «was formed only through word of mouth, with the firm’s reputation built up by looking for quality without compromises and always aiming for the customer’s satisfaction regardless of the lot sizes, timings and work-loads. The customer – continues Paolo Fantuzzi – must always be satisfied. You cannot hurriedly treat customers when there is plenty of work and then maybe remember them only to ask for some orders when work is scarce».

Passing on to the company’s fleet of machines in use, made up of 14 grinding machines of various types, it is impossible not to note that it is all of the same brands: the old-established Morara and Tacchella (now IMT) and the more modern IMT branded, the group that in 2010, has united in a unique industry some of the most prestigious Italian brands of grinding: Morara, De.Ci.Ma., Tacchella, Favretto and Meccanodora.

Surely the F.P. Fantuzzi fleet of machines in use is a good sign of fidelity: in fact, in the same industrial building, «live side by side»  grinding machines going back to the Seventies, together with the more recent IMT models, equipped with CNC multi-axis and driven by linear motors.

The F.P. Fantuzzi fleet of machines in use, sees at work a Morara Quick 1000at CNC, a Morara Quick 400 at CNC, a Morara Micro E 400, a Morara Intermatic 1000, a Morara Intermatic 700, two Morara Micro I, as well as the very recent IMT MTL 1000.

Going around the F.P. Fantuzzi production departments, many generations of IMT machines can be seen and it is impossible not to note the «fil rouge» that these machines have in common, regardless their age: building robustness, solidity, solutions aiming at simplifying the grinding process and to speed up production cycles all to the advantage of productivity. It really is true that traditions cannot be improvised.

 

The most modern machine

F.P. Fantuzzi’s flagship  is the Morara MTL 1000.

The sample installed at Zola Predosa is an automated version equipped with an anthropomorphic robot which loads and unloads pieces and verifies the dimensions in process, for the production of two different types of pieces.

The machine has a grinding wheel with 760 mm of diameter, ensures efficiency for big lots processing, thanks to time reductions in placing and processing. Even if the MTL 1000 working at F.P. Fantuzzi is equipped with a single grinding machine, there are several different setups with combinations of grinding wheels in combination, for indoors, outdoors on tilting head and so on, in order to guarantee the widest possible versatility.

The strengths of MTL 1000, as in the Morara tradition, are the solid mono-block bases in Meehanite cast iron stabilized in a hollow shape, designed with the aim to limit deformations due to thermal dilatation and vibrations.

The hollow structure of the base also acts as a physical housing for the linear motors and the processing liquids. This solution is an advantage for the machine compactness and, increasing the base mass, also allows for a sensible reduction in the machine’s frequency.

The cooling of the lubro-refrigerant liquid and the linear motors, takes place on two separate and distinct refrigerator circuits.

The MTL 1000’s structure was thought out for the maximum modularity: for example it is possible to have more heights that can be worked with the same base, thanks to the inter-changeable grooves.

Also the lengths to be grinded are variable thanks to the 200 mm long standard tiles which placed in series can adequately extend the linear motors.

The B axis positioned on the wheel head is driven by a torque engine; also present are a C axis also driven by a torque engine for the threads and polygons processing and a W axis, checked on ball screws for the moving of the tailstock.

The combination of linear and torque motors, working in direct and eliminating every kinematic chain due to reductions, allows a significant increase of the total rigidity of the machine and, at the same time, of its reliability.

The machines of the MTL series, available in four sizes with grinding lengths of 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000 mm, are set for various types of enslavements, for the automatic loading/unloading of pieces: robot with side or front access, or Cartesian systems with loading from above.

The CNC, like all the motion control set, is made by Siemens, with the possibility, of course to install CNCs of other companies.

The MTL present in F.P. Fantuzzi is equipped with a Marposs in process measurement system which transmits measurement data directly to the CNC via ProfiBus.

 

For small lots

Like the majority of modern sub-contractors, today F.P. Fantuzzi has to manage not only big series of pieces, but also smaller lots for which it is necessary to have machines that are versatile and quick to configure. These sort of requirements are managed by the Morara Quick Grinder, which we have already seen working, in the company in Zola Predosa, for the implementation of the grinded housings of the bearing supports of pinions for the reducer industry. The Quick Grinder is equipped with two mobile axis with a mobile wagon and has, as in the Morara’s tradition, a mono-block base in Meehanite cast iron. When necessary it can be equipped with in process measurement systems and with optical lines on the axis.

Today the Morara Quick Grinder is available in a renewed and updated guise and its name is Easy Quick, available for outdoor or indoor grinding process.

The Easy Quick grinding machines keep the successful elements of the Quick Grinder, such as configurability and flexibility, keeping their philosophy and adding some innovations like the monitoring of maintenance activities (signaling those to be performed), or the Energy Saving system to reduce power consumptions. Easy Quick OD is indicated for the processing of moulds, shafts and electrical engines.

 

Diversifying production

F.P. Fantuzzi does not deal just with reducers components: recently the firm has had numerous work orders to make pump shafts and gears.

Another IMT machine is used for this work: a Tacchella grinding center with a loading-unloading-measure cell and palletizing onto a tray of the finished piece through an anthropomorphic robot. Another demonstration that F.P. Fantuzzi is not afraid to invest in technology to increase quality and productivity: «It is the only way to stay successful stay on the market nowadays» explained Paolo Fantuzzi.

 

Reasons for a choice

With such a rich fleet of machines in use and all coming from the same constructor, one can only ask Paolo Fantuzzi what the reasons are for such a convinced and long-lasting choice: «The first very important thing that a grinding machine must have is quality – he explained – and in the world of grinding, if you cannot count on total quality machines, it would not be possible to guarantee quality to our customers.

But only the quality is not enough; and Paolo Fantuzzi continued to explain to us what else was necessary to have from a machine and, in full,  from a supplier of grinding machines: «reliability is very important, every day we are called on to supply our service not only with adequate quality requirements, but also with tight deadlines often required by our customers. It is necessary to have reliable machines which guarantee continuous working and reduced machine downtime. From this comes the need  – continued Fantuzzi – for the supplier to be always present with his assistance service so that he can intervene rapidly if and when it is necessary. No, nowadays we cannot afford to keep machines stopped for long».

«The presence and availability of IMT – Fantuzzi continued to explain – is important also because in this way, they can advise us in the choice of investment in new machines. To remain on the market we need machines which are always faster and with his performances. IMT has the skills and abilities to follow us along this road».

On their part, IMT is very happy to count among its customers F.P. Fantuzzi, explained Leonardo Peli, Marketing Manager of the Bologna Group: «F.P. Fantuzzi is certainly a firm which knows how to invest, has clear ideas and has understood what the competitive levers are nowadays: quality and technology. Customers like this are a continuous stimulus for us to always do better».

A very solid relationship, said Paolo Fantuzzi, «which has become one of friendship between technicians and IMT consultants. In fact, I recently had the pleasure of celebrating with them and many other suppliers and customers, 50 years of my work in the field of grinding. A great satisfaction».

 

A look to the future

What will the future be like? This was the last question we put to Paolo Fantuzzi before leaving him: «the future will be always more under the sign of strong technology and quality. It is the only way to justify and maintain the cost difference in respect to the emerging countries. Certainly – continued Fantuzzi – if there is one thing which worries us is the lack of young people able to replace those who must stop working due to age limits. Qualified workers are essential. For this reason here in F.P. Fantuzzi we have decided to make some of its employees partners, in order to motivate them and keep them in the firm with us».

And so, once again F.P. Fantuzzi has demonstrated to be innovative, not only at a technological level, but also in the management of human resources.