Interview with Claudia Benelli

Ferrarini & Benelli has been in the Corona surface treatment business since 1965 developing equipment for all applications with which it has established itself among the world's leading suppliers.  

Ferrarini & Benelli supplies sophisticated equipment to plastic film manufacturers, converters working in flexible packaging, and manufacturers of extrusion, printing, laminating and coating machines.

At the headquarters in Soncino, in the province of Cremona, we have met with Claudia Benelli, who shares the management of the family business with her father Diego, founder.

Tell us the history of your company.

"The company originated with the production of polyethylene film through the extrusion process," Claudia Benelli explains, "and from the very beginning it had to deal with the needs of and flexible packaging transformer customers, which led it to develop in-house corona treatment technology.

The developed solution convinced my father to set aside, in 1965, the production of plastic to found a new company dedicated entirely to the design and manufacture of these systems to meet the demands of a market with very interesting prospects.

Over four decades, the company has grown from a small entity for a regional user base, to today's reality of an industry structured to serve a worldwide market with a wide range of high-tech products for various applications in the field of extrusion and flexible packaging processing.

What is the determining factor in your success?

By cooperating with major manufacturers of the lines on which corona treatment is applied, we have succeeded in developing innovative products in step with the new demands of major users, establishing ourselves more and more in the printing and converting industry. In fact, while in the past the plastic film industry accounted for 70 percent of the customer base, today the packaging converting area has reached 50 percent and its share is growing further.

The other strength is our workforce of 20 employees who work mainly in design and assembly. We use satellite workshops for machining and electrical components. We can therefore guarantee delivery times in the range of 5 to 6 weeks for standard treaters and 8 to 10 weeks for custom designs, developing an annual turnover of about 200 installations.

Tell us about your internationalization process

My systematic presence at the booths of the most important international trade fairs in the industry has enabled me to promote the brand, learn about the competition and experience first-hand the different demands coming from international markets.

We have created a sales network abroad with multi-firm agents who represent us on an exclusive basis, some of whom also carry out technical assistance and have a spare parts warehouse for emergency service.

We are present throughout Europe, North and South America, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Middle East. Today the export share is around 35 percent, but it is increasing. We also have to consider that many supplies, made for Italian manufacturers, are used on lines destined for foreign users; therefore our effective presence in foreign markets is much greater."

What are your top products?

In the converting sector, it is the POLIMETAL universal treater for flexographic and gravure printing, laminating, coating, suitable for the treatment of plastics, paper and metal substrates. The use of special electrodes inserted in ceramic tubes enables high-voltage discharge even on conductive materials such as metallized films and laminates with metal foil even at high machine speeds. The range of available models is wide: treating widths vary from 700 mm to 4000 mm, and there are different settings by number of electrodes (with 16 ceramic electrodes one can operate at a machine speed of 650 meters per minute).

The special ET/117/CE treater for label treatment before printing equipped with ceramic electrodes suitable for different conductive and non-conductive substrates is particularly interesting as well.

Generators that ensure adequate and constant energy to the treaters are also a strong point of our comprehensive range. Digital and automatic generators with adjustment according to machine speeds can be equipped with remote controls to communicate with PLCs of production lines and in the most advanced versions use fiber optics.

Do you also make "customized" products?

While Ferrarini & Benelli has a wide and articulated range of equipments for many applications, it can work out customized solutions for extraordinary needs wherever efficient corona treatment is required in different environmental conditions.

This is the case of Wet Start devices, designed to control discharge power in environments characterized by high humidity, and treatment systems in special versions for extrusion coating lines of paper mills where machine speeds reach 600 meters/min. with widths up to 4000 mm.

In our test laboratory we can simulate all working conditions specified by customers in order to work out the most efficient and reliable solutions. This flexible and open approach to collaboration is a fundamental element of our company philosophy, which has allowed us to establish ourselves as a qualified supplier of important manufacturers of converting machines, including Bielloni Castello, Cerutti, CMR, Flexotecnica, Nordmeccanica, Schiavi, Uteco, and Valmet Rotomec, not to mention the numerous partners in the extrusion sector.

Source: "Converting"