From doors and windows to furniture, from turning machines to NCworking centers, it is (not) a short step, but it takes investments, efforts and willingness to risk. This is the Fapil experience: the goal is to compete in a market hanging between new requirements and economic crisis.
From Brembilla to Zogno, in the Bergamo area. From the production of turning tools (with a great passion for mechanical engineering) to inline machinery and NC working center tools.
The history of Fapil , a company founded by Francesco Pesenti and today managed by Giuseppe, Giampaolo and Sara Pesenti (sons and daughter), began in 1959 at the heart of handicraft production in Bergamo. Currently, the company is among the leading players in the “made in Italy” woodworking tools industry.
In the early Eighties, the company was subjected to the first big internal reorganization process and production reconversion, resulting in the relocation in the current facility in Zogno: today Fapil manufactures tools for NC milling machines, also thanks to the consolidated cooperation with Cms, one of the leading companies in the design and development of working centers located in the same town. Throughout the years the company has also developed a wide range of standard products for milling and drilling, available from stock, in addition to special tools to meet customer requirements for contouring, shaping and drilling operations on standard and line machines.
From doors and windows to furniture. At the beginning of 2000, the new leap ahead was made with the development of the sales network and product renovation, also thanks to new investments in technologies, in particular for the production of knives, solid carbide milling cutters, cutter heads, without neglecting the woodturning industry.
We talked about it with Giampaolo Pesenti.
“New tools for new technologies” could be the summary of your story. Today, what is your produc tion focus?
“We mainly focus on the machining of special tools, as we think it is necessary to be ready to propose innovative solutions and "just in time" tools reducing production times also for special tools ensuring quick deliveries. The crisis has intensified this trend, also because today people buy tools and equipment, but also machines, only when an order is confirmed and the job has to be carried out as soon as possible. We try to give our contribution...”.
You have become a kind of tailor shop for tools...
“3D design allows us to closely interface with machines. We have reorganized the whole system, analyzing machining costs and times, real engineering operations – if you allow me to use this definition – for the management of our processes. For a small-sized organization like ours, this has been an important step that we are still enhancing; we have also promoted research and development projects for company reorganization, for the development of product types and market niches, such as beams or rifle stocks, paying the highest attention to those fields that - despite their size- can give excellent results. And this does not mean we just think about marketing, but we develop specific solutions for customers or machine manufacturers in Italy as well as abroad.
Let’s talk about production, product range, specialization...
“We offer a rather articulated range of solutions, even if our specialization remains milling cutters for working centers, in addition to cutters for the production of doors and windows. Technology is always the core of our business: we are going in the same direction taken by my father and, at the latest Xylexpo, we started to propose diamond steam coated tools, a new solution that increases wear resistance reaching a level which is just slightly below diamond resistance. This kind of machining is giving excellent results as to panels, with good performances and very high finishing levels. After carrying out some important tests with our customers in the United Kingdom we are now proposing this kind of tools for wood as well as for plastic materials.
Another niche in which we are very active is modelling, particularly focused on green economy . We produce tools for the processing of 40 meters long wind blades as a single workpiece, and with direct forming, with important customers also in China. We have also entered Shipbuilding , where Cms – that uses our tools – is a strong and strategic partner to grasp new opportunities in new market niches”.
With Cms you have a historic relationship, which is still particularly strong today and that goes beyond the fact that your production units are close...
“Let’s say that, together, it is easier to create innovation, find answers to all the problems we encounter and for which there is no standard answer. This allows both of us to grasp the opportunity to propose new solutions and analyze new chances. Let me add that mass production finished several years ago: there are no more big figures and companies work for very fragmented productions, for special finishing. We continue to bet on "special", "tailor-made" solutions, developing the best solution also with the direct acquisition of customer, without mediators”.
How has the tool changed in the last twenty years?
“Performance has improved, but the context has not followed its evolution unfortunately. The most remarkable phenomenon, from our point of view, concerns the reduction of business margins, despite their efforts towards innovation. The world of wood has not given yet a significant value to tools, unlike mechanical machining, and maybe this attitude is also due to the lack of a stronger entrepreneurial culture on our side. Besides having always suffered fromeconomic
and financial limits due to liquidity, we have to consider also the small size of companies and the lack of sales organization, an aspect which has had lower influence – to tell the truth – on special tools compared to the production of big volumes, which is particularly sensitive to Chinese competition. Problems are not missing, first of all the incapacity to make users aware of the value of high quality tools and the general lack of organization skills at economic and sales level".
“We are working on other market niches and on new applications. We have consolidated experience in the production of tools for working centers. We are trying to make them more appealing from a sales point of view and we are also moving out of the wood industry.
We must also face the loss of weight of our national industrial capacity, considering that our potential foreign customers have a vision which is less positive day after day. Without forgetting that we must face costs, starting from raw materials limiting our competitiveness on the global market. There would be an answer, i.e. we have to think a little bit more about the opportunity to work together, to create consortia of tools manufacturers where everyone can express their vocation, their specific features. We would take into consideration a serious project, with serious people...”..
( Xylon International January-February i