Arinox is one of our most loyal customer. During the last decade Cresco provided several designs to empower and modernize the Sestri Levante steel plant.
INTERVIEW WITH MASSIMILIANO SACCO AND MAURO MORETTI Arinox, was founded in 1990 and located in Sestri Levante, on the former site of FIT Ferrotubi. Arinox is a subsidiary of the Arvedi steel group and it is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of stainless-steel precision strips (with 2,600 employees and a consolidated turnover of around 2.2 billion euro in 2012).
What is the history of your company? Arinox was founded in 1990 on the site formerly home to FIT Ferrotubi, steelworks have been present in the area from 1900. From the start, Mr. Arvedi, has preferred the production of stainless steel to common carbon steel produced in other factories. The first configuration of the production plant was able to produce 15,000 tonnes of 650 mm wide "narrow table" strip steel, the standard of that period. Due to increased need of production capacity in the early 2000s, the plant has been expanded and empowered with new equipment: the gamble was to focus on new technology and to increase the strip width up to 1270 mm (the so-called "wide table"), considerably reducing the processing costs. The Sundwig rolling mill which was set up, was the first in the world with these features, and together with the furnace, the slitters (machines that reduce the width of the strip) and the packing line, formed the new production section of the company increasing overall capacity to 45,000 tonnes in 2009, from an investment of about 80 million euros. In 2011 the tension leveller was installed, which allowed a further improvement in the quality of our product. In 2013, a new continuous annealing furnace operating in a controlled atmosphere of 100% of hydrogen/argon was added; the plant can process, together with the stainless steel, also the titanium strips, an operation with very few competitors on the market. As a result of all these investment, Arinox increased production from 15,000 tons thin laminates in 1990 to 50,000 t ultra-thin stainless laminates in 2013, in other words a niche product, of which 85% is exported. In 2016, we are opening a new rolling mill with an even wider "table", 1550 mm; no one in the world owns a mill with these features and this will enable further optimizations of our production and scrap reduction. These goals are possible due to technological developments, the experience that has been gained in our factory and thanks to a vision of the future that distinguishes our group.
Our company appreciated the courage of an innovative solutions proposed by CrescoMauro Moretti
So is innovation a crucial benchmark for your business? Surely the strength of our company also derives from our ability to innovate and anticipate the times: when it was decided to make the first wide table rolling mill our competitors doubted the technical possibility and opportunity: counter wise, the results have demonstrated we were right and our idea has allowed us to be competitive in the market and withstand comparison with our competitors. Sometimes innovation comes from our suppliers: for example, in the foundation of the tension leveller polypropylene fibers were used to replace, in part, the steel reinforcement: this application was proposed by Cresco and our company appreciated the courage of an innovative choice which embraces our philosophy.
Your new equipment costs about tens of millions of euros and you must deal with high downtime costs as well: how do you manage all phases of the project? Each new plant is an important commitment for us, and it takes a considerable effort to coordinate all those people involved, who normally have different nationalities, culture and character: our efforts would be in vain, however, if all the people involved did not show their professionalism and gave their all to achieve the goals. Confidence in the executing company and designers is essential to be able to obtain on time and within budget, the initial goals forecast.
Could you provide us with some details on the work of Arinox and the company's target market? Arinox is the only Italian company which produces precision stainless steel strips, a strip in which the technical and quality requirements (mechanical characteristics, thickness, width, surface condition) must be strictly monitored. The precision strip is used for applications with high technology and safety content, such as in the production of articles for the biomedical industry (from needles for syringes to the blood-water heat exchanger used in cardiac surgery with extracorporeal circulation), but also for the fashion industry (jeans buttons are made with our steel), for the automotive industry (engine head gaskets, airbag capsules, brake system, particulate filters...) and for the construction industry. Arinox operates on the international market competing with companies like Thyssen-Krupp, Arcelor-Mittal and Outokumpu. We export worldwide: South and North America, Europe, Asia and even China, India and Pakistan, where we supply companies that have relocated their production to save on labour costs, but that can not disregard using high quality material or acting in accordance with EU regulations to be able to market a high quality finished product. In 2013 we sold 40 thousand tons of strip, affirming the turnover in 2012 equal to 146 million of euro with 226 employees. Compared to a traditional steel factory the volume of our production may seem modest, but in terms of length it is not at all: the strip that comes out every year from the Arinox plants is enough to join the earth with the moon, at a length of 300,000 km.
What does Arinox do in favor of the environmental sustainability? The activity of Arinox is entirely compatible with the surrounding urban space; the company produces as per Environmental Management System ISO 14001: 2004 requirements. We have always cared on minimizing the impact of our activities on the environment: we recycle most of the energy we use as well as the technical gases, and therefore, together with a significant saving, we get a drastic reduction in gas emissions (by the way for the heating of furnaces we use only methane). Our emissions are like the ones coming from an apartment block. In Arinox we recycled also the water and the disposal of sludge is entrusted to specialized companies only. Finally, to reduce CO2 emissions, we have installed photovoltaic panels on an area equal to one third of our roofing providing 10% of the energy needed for plant operations.