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Italian pallet maker sustains la dolce vita with an LT70 band sawmill
In the dramatic Viterbo countryside North-West of Rome, Giovan Battista Boggi set up a successful pallet and bins manufacturing operation ten years ago and it still does pretty well despite recession. His semi-industrial band sawmill is a key to this enviable situation. Born in Grotte di Castro, in the province Viterbo in 1953, he worked at the bank before becoming an entrepreneur as owner of Cooperativa Artigiana Artigian Legno, a cooperative society with six employees and 600,000 Euros p.a. revenues.
Representing Wood-Mizer, Valentina Piscitelli interviewed and photographed him at his premises, on the road to Torre Alfina, Viterbo, in Italy's Lazio region just south of Tuscany and Umbria.
Signor Boggi, when did you create Cooperativa Artigiana Artigian Legno and what does it do? A: We started in 1999 recycling used pallets and sawmill boards and after two years we equipped ourselves to saw bought-in logs and avoid reliance on outside sawn timber supplies. Now, all incoming timber is converted in-house, principally into packaging products like wooden pallets and bins. Mostly, we supply potato containers for grocery outlets. Log sawing is the starting point of our cycle and all subsequent manufacturing operations depend on this. We achieved this by installing a Wood-Mizer LT70 log saw, the largest model in the portable range. This machine is combined with an edger to speed up operations and increase yield. The combination yields 80% of each log and just 20% sawdust.
Who are your customers? A: Most of our customers are local. So far, we have been able to meet a vigorous demand for grocery bins. We also work for a company from Abruzzo with a subsidiary in San Lorenzo Nuovo, near Viterbo, which distributes its potatoes to supermarkets in our bins.
Why did you select Wood-Mizer within the wide range of wood processing solutions available on the world market? A: Let's be frank! Italy is a leader in the production of log saws. We selected Wood-Mizer because traditional, circular log saws have a large environmental footprint and little installation flexibility. Comparable sawmills need a concrete platform and the machine structure has to be anchored to the ground. Another key factor is that such a significant investment has approximately the same yield for all log saw types. Besides being more cost-effective, Wood-Mizer timber processing kit offers greater operating flexibility - they are easily portable - and, unlike conventional log saws, they operate horizontally instead of vertically. The saw runs on an iron plate where the log sits, providing benefits in terms of yield through the thin-kerf blades which offer minimum waste and higher speed. We run the mill at an average speed of 10-15 metres per minute, provided the blade is sharpened and reset accurately. However, the Wood-Mizer machine can achieve a maximum speed of 30 metres per minute! The Wood-Mizer sawing system is really competitive as a result of the combination of both edger and mill, on one side and of the average stroke of the blade (six metres in our operation), while the stroke of conventional machines is twice as much, because the blade stands still while the carriage moves. Also, it costs about 45,000 Euros, whereas a comparable, traditional saw costs around 100,000 Euros. The price gap is not justified by higher yield.
How did you get in touch with Wood-Mizer? A: Surfing the Web! I came across their products and initially bought the manually-loaded LT20. Last year I purchased the LT70 because it is better equipped for our needs. The model LT70 offers hydraulically-powered log handling and a more accurate cutting gauge which ensures higher efficiency in job programming.
What about yield and management of this band sawmill? A: The quality/price ratio and yield are excellent. The machine is convenient to use and easy to manage, as well as technologically accessible. After two years in operation, I have never had maintenance or wear problems, although we have been using it every day and for long periods.
What’s the situation in your timber market apropos the economic crisis? A: Like all markets, the woodworking sector has been affected by the global economic crisis. Wood prices inevitably have shot up in an unpredictable climate. Heavy rains have delayed timber supplies from Eastern Europe. The American crunch has also brought unwelcome consequences by stalling negotiations between the German and Austrian markets, which in turn affects the Italian market.
Where do you purchase wood and how do you solve supply problems? A: Currently, we buy Italian wood, from Mount Amiata in southern Tuscany at less competitive prices than we could find in Eastern Europe. We compensate for this drawback by simply working more and the Wood-Mizer sawmill certainly helps us by its turning out 80% of each log in finished lumber. This results from the combination of the log saw with the trimming saw, permitting recycled trimmings for packaging or one-way pallets. Trimmings are used to make chips, i.e. 'minced' wood wastes which feed power stations in Terni, southern Umbria. Wood is 100% organic and its production, generating no waste, is fully sustainable.
Are you satisfied with your business? A: I would say yes, especially taking into account the fact that I started off with used pallets. With ever-growing market demand, my company progressively specialized and adjusted the scope of our enterprise. We have created new jobs and - despite surprising labour shortages, economic crisis and an inevitable trading dip from 500,000 Euros to 300,000 Euros - we keep going and are the only company in our region to offer this kind of product.
Cooperativa Artigiana Artigian Legno
Strada Provinciale Torre Alfina Km 1,200
Owner: Giovan Battista Boggi a.k.a. Titta
Mobile +39 339 6527444
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