Based in the small town of Meolo, about 25km north of Venice, Ondulati Nordest is one of the leading sheet feeders in north-eastern Italy. The company was established as a dedicated sheet feeder in 1992 by its owners, who were finding it increasingly difficult to get a good and consistent supply of corrugated sheets for converting. They were the first non-integrated sheet feeder in the territory.
Their sister company is Scatolificio Idealkart, a sheet plant that was established in 1973. With a diverse range of converting equipment and servicing high value, yet short order jobs, the owners were looking for a reliable supplier of sheets
and having spoken to a few other sheet plant owners in the area (who were having the same problems in supply), decided to start up a 2.5m corrugator to service local sheet plants.
“The other sheet feeders were simply too far away from us and we had issues in getting a regular service, especially for the higher quality board that we needed,” said Augusto Tosatto, owner and CEO of Idealkart. “As a family, we decided to put in an Agnati and the rest – as they say – is history.”
Nordest has successfully run the Agnati corrugator for many years, but over the last five years or so, had reached its capacity, running on three shifts per day, five days per week. “Having reached its capacity, we were in a precarious position in case of break down or extended maintenance,” explained Fabrizio Tosatto, joint owner (and brother of Augusto). “We have built a good reputation for the quality of board we produce and also for delivery lead times. But we knew that to continue our growth, we needed to add another line to allow for easy expansion.”
Lots of Doublewall
Nordest produces a diverse range of single and doublewall board types. Around 60% of the annual production at Nordest is doublewall (35% is BC and 25% is EB). The remaining 40% is single wall board – 20% is E flute, 15% B flute and 5% C flute. In 2018, they produced over 160 million sqm of board. Projections for 2020 suggest this figure will easily exceed 300 million sqm.
“Deep down, we wanted to stay true to our roots and wanted an Italian machine,” continues Augusto Tosatto. “However, we looked at many examples of machines in action, manufactured by all the leading OEMs. In the end, we opted for the Fosber S/Line, as we felt it would suit us best of all. We chose a machine with pretty much every option available – and then began the hard work of getting ourselves ready for an installation.”
The project was made all the more difficult, as the company could not afford any downtime. The company laid out plans to build additional factory space next to the existing corrugator, where they would install the Fosber line. The factory extension was also large enough for a take-off area, with plastic belt chain conveyors, leading to the finished goods entry. The materials handling was designed and manufactured by NE Engineering and handled by EDF, who also sourced a suitable pallet press.
The S/Line from Fosber that has now been running since the spring of this year, is the top of the range option. Equipped with five Link-M3 reel handling systems and splicers, the line is the highest rated machine designed by Fosber, with a maximum speed of 420 mpm. The line, which has complete sound enclosure along the body of the machine, has all options specified, resulting in a high speed, high output corrugator.
Having only commissioned the machine on 4th March, the company has already successfully set a performance record on its new line, achieving 168,214 linear meters (409,481 sqm) of E flute in a single eight-hour shift. The production record included 76 different orders and 11 different paper qualities.
“We know a lot about running corrugators at speed,” said Andrea Tosatto. “Our crews are all very skilled, but we must say, it was quite an interesting transition from some of the older team members who had learnt their trade on the manual Agnati model. But they adapted very well and with several new team members and some excellent training from the Fosber technical team, we had the machine running to high speeds within days.”
He continued, “For many years, we were a reference for Agnati in what could be achieved on their lines – we had very high production figures. With the new Fosber, we achieved even higher monthly output within only a few months, thanks to the levels of technology and our team’s desire to show us we have chosen the right machine.”
“In our view, the Fosber S/Line was ideal for us, because of its high levels of automation and also because it can handle a wide range of papers easily, from 80gsm through to 400gsm,” said Augusto Tosatto. “But probably the most important aspect for us is its low cost of ownership over the lifetime of the machine.”
Nordest has a small, but skilled workforce. “We employ only 70 people at the sheet feeding operation, with a further 40 people at Idealkart,” says Fabrizio Tosatto. “Our site has 50,000 sqm of covered space and we have a lot of equipment under this roof space. But we are looking to add a further 15,000 sqm for finished goods storage, now that we have the new Fosber corrugator. It produces so much that sometimes, we had to slow it down in the early days of commissioning because we were struggling to handle the output and get it all into finished goods storage. The additional storage space, which will be completed soon, will handle the output comfortably.”
“At 78 years of age, some people have asked why I would invest €20m in the business,” said Augusto Tosatto. “The answer is simple really – I believe in the business and want to ensure that the next generation, who are all working in the business already, have a strong and stable business for many years to come.”
Augusto Tosatto concludes, “In this game, if you don’t make quality board, you can not win. We are confident with what we have seen so far and the feedback from customers is extremely positive. Although it is a little too early to say for sure in terms of actual output numbers, we are looking forward to record years ahead of us, producing some of the best sheet board in the region. Our relationship with our suppliers is part of our ongoing success and we know we have the right partner in Fosber.”