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July 1, 2008

4 Min Read
Auxiliary equipment: Moretto sets sights on industry leadership



Renato Moretto, Moretto Plastics Automation founder and president, awaits visitors at his firm’s stand at a recent trade show.

Massanzago, Italy—Renatto Moretto has set market leadership as the goal for the company he founded in January 1980. The company took life as a subcontractor making metal parts for his former employer, plastics auxiliary equipment manufacturer Piovan, but in 1987 he decided to enter the auxiliary equipment market with his own brand, Moretto Plastics Automation. During a visit last week to the company headquarters in Massanzago, Italy, the firm’s founder described for MPW how his firm has developed and also what steps he is taking to ensure its continued success.

Moretto Plastics Automation (www.moretto.com) makes temperature control units (TCUs); dryers and dehumidifiers; a wide range of materials handling equipment including, hoppers, feeders, silos, and dosing units; granulators; and equipment specifically for processing of PET. In essence, he says, it offers all of the material handling machinery a processor requires from the plastics supplier’s truck or railcar to his own processing machinery.

As regards market leadership, Moretto says, “We’re close in some areas, especially dehumidifiers, and we’ll keep working on the rest.” Currently he ranks the firm as among the three leaders in the European market, trailing Piovan and Motan, and in the top five globally. Moretto does not manufacture robots, and the owner says he has no intent to do so in the future. In Italy the firm does serve as a distributor for Taiwanese robot supplier Apex. “We don’t really need robots; our sales don’t depend on the robot used,” he explains.

Moretto’s sales have risen from about €euro 21 million in 2005 to euro€23.8 million last year and will approach €euro 27.3 million this year, he says. The company has about 200 employees and has wholly-owned sales/service subsidiaries in Brazil, England, Germany, and Singapore. Its customers cover all plastics processes, but injection molders represent the largest group, about 70% of sales, with more than half of these in the automotive market, followed by white goods.

While not unique, Moretto’s company is one of few that has kept most of its manufacturing in-house, including most of its own metalwork and machining, even stamping of large panels. The firm also operates its own paint lines. “Our characteristic is that we make our own equipment. We don’t just assemble,” he says. The firm makes all of its machines’ “strategic parts”, he says, and manufactures about 40% of all of its needed parts. Its in-house customer testing hall includes 11 injection molding machines outfitted with a wide range of Moretto-brand equipment; on the day MPW visited two of these were molding parts for Moretto machines, and the firm’s mold bay includes at least 40 tools for molding its machines’ seals, front panels for temperature control units (TCUs), and even drinking cups used at the factory.

“For us, manufacturing is a strategic part of our business,” says Moretto, noting the firm even makes its own screws for its dosing units. “Doing it ourselves lets us react very quickly to orders. We’ll even make parts that we can probably purchase for a lower price-but we make up for this extra cost with our speed (in filling custom orders).”

As in so many parts of the industry, energy savings are a focus for R&D efforts at the company. Moretto says he will invest about euro 4.5 million in the company this year with about half of that in R&D, and much of that devoted to energy-saving developments. “We just quoted a big order to a German customer who, with our dryers, stands to save about euro 500,000 (in energy costs) in three years,” compared to its current equipment, says Moretto. Andrea Salmosa, technical director, says the firm makes about 40-60 product developments (evolutionary changes) annually, launching 4-5 new products annually.

Custom injection molder CEL (S. Pietro Di Legnango, Italy; www.cel.it), a longtime Moretto customer, merged its then-two processing facilities in 2004 into a single building. The move presented an opportunity to upgrade its materials handling machinery to a centralized Moretto system. Maurizio Motterman, managing director at the molder, told MPW the processor’s 40-plus molding machines had each had their own dryer, with five materials handling systems used for the plant. “This of course increased personnel costs, took up too much space, just too many issues,” he recalls.

The centralized materials handling system is located near the company’s materials storage bay, and satisfies CEL’s desires for a single air control for the entire system, which, in turn, is sourced from a single supplier. In addition to the space savings and convenience, he says energy savings have also been substantial. “We didn’t throw away all of our old dryers, and kept using a few for a while, so we could test and see that the new Moretto dryers are saving us at least 25% of energy use,” says Motterman.

Moretto did share a precautionary tale: he says his company acquired a Geiger counter after a friend of his, also owner of a manufacturing company, bought 3-4 tonnes of steel from Asia that he says turned out to be radioactive. Moretto’s company now checks each incoming order before using it.—[email protected]

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