Made in Italy

Automation in paper machines: «turn-key» installations in the world


A young but extremely dynamic Tuscan enterprise has succeeded in emerging on international markets with full-circle electrification and automation solutions.

by Vittorio Pesce

Sandro Galli, Sales and Marketing Manager for Sadas S.r.l.
Sandro Galli, Sales and Marketing Manager for Sadas S.r.l.

«Our company is young when it comes to the official year of its establishment, yet the fact that it was set up as a spin-off of a company from the Lucca area that is internationally very well-known and boasts a thirty-year long experience in the field of automated industrial systems for the Pulp&Paper systems». These are the words of engineer Sandro Galli, who is the Sales & Marketing Manager of Sadas S.r.l., a company set up in 2005, which has experienced a remarkable growth in just ten years.

Over the last three years the company took over other two businesses, all active in Lucca: SIS S.r.l., which specializes in the production of cabling equipment and the testing of electrical cabinets, and Tecnica Sistemi S.r.l. , which specializes in the supply of equipment (i.e. sensors, actuators, transmitters, etc.) for the control of production processes. In May 2015 it also set up SPS – Sadas Plant Solutions S.r.l., which is a branch of the company active in the production and installation of machine equipment and electrical components. Mr Galli continues and states that «thanks to this synergy, our firm has become a real holding company. This way, against the backdrop of an increasingly large and fierce market, we can offer our customers complete services and “turn-key” installations equipped with all the necessary automatisms, sensors and electrical components».

The strength of the Sadas holding company therefore lies in its complete offer, as well as in its flexibility, as engineer Galli well explains: «Several companies offer monobrand products in our sector. But we have the competence that enables us to produce installations with components of different prestigious brands, like Siemens, ABB, Rockwell, etc.» Thanks to these competences the Lucca company manages to offer customized products tailored upon customers’ needs and, as a consequence, widen both its technical possibilities and its market.

The interview with Sandro Galli is also the occasion to make some considerations on the current market phase: Mr Galli observes that «we are currently undergoing a very good period and this phase of growth has been lasting for some years now. Just think that the number of people working at Sadas went from 22 to 29 from 2013 to 2015. And if you consider our recent acquisitions, our holding company now employs 56 people». The company is thus currently experiencing a moment of great satisfaction. «We are getting the results of the work we have done over the past years. We have undertaken extensive efforts to make ourselves known and invested, so that our customers can trust our company, although it is a young one». Today we can say that the market thoroughly acknowledged the quality, competence and know-how of the Tuscan company: in other words, the industry has understood that Sadas can be a leading partner in the provision of turn-key installations, be they small or big, or in revamping activities. «We are proud to say that we have earned ourselves a name. Sadas is today a well-established supplier, which is strongly demanded by companies working in the field in Italy and abroad; in other words, we cannot hide ourselves that we are going through a very good period», as Mr Galli underlines.

Switchboards at the Sadas S.r.l. plant in Marlia (Lucca).
Switchboards at the Sadas S.r.l. plant in Marlia (Lucca).

Full-circle technology

Sadas has carried out several installations, as well as start-ups and installation management activities in the Pulp&Paper industry all over the world, as explained by Sandro Galli: «Our customers include both manufacturers of machinery and installations for tissue and fluting paper, both paper mills themselves. From this viewpoint, it is worth remembering that we have worked also for very complex paper mills, with machine speeds up to 2,200 m/min, wire section width of 5,800 mm, equipped with high-performance rewinders and multiline installations for the processing and preparation of paper pastes with sophisticated waste paper».

What do your customers ask today? «We have two main groups of customers. The first group includes customers asking for complete installations, i.e. turn-key solutions. These are very challenging supplies, which include complex and often large machinery that require thorough and complex knowledge of the production processes involved and major engineering efforts. In these cases the customer has to be followed from the very first steps of the project, during which we collaborate with him to solve possible problems up until start-up. It is furthermore very important, if not fundamental, to follow our customer in the world also in the following phases, in other words to help him bring the installation into full operation, thereby training its staff, optimizing working processes and making the entire production cycle productive».

The second group of customers, instead, needs to carry out the revamping of already existing machinery and installations. Mr Galli points out that «this is a less complex, but definitely equally important type of activity». “Revamping” basically means “mechanical restructuring”: it may involve the introduction of new automatisms, the replacement of worn-out components, the introduction of new electronic components, modern control systems, etc. Revamping therefore refers to the series of operations that enable a piece of machinery to “live” again, to the extent that this is technically feasible, a second “technical youth” in terms of productive capacity, reliability and safety. «This type of activity is carried out on the installed machine fleet and obviously involves a much larger number of customers compared to the ones asking for brand-new installations», as Mr Galli puts it.

Detail of copper elements for the A.Celli Paper plant in Mexico.
Detail of copper elements for the A.Celli Paper plant in Mexico.

Winning over foreign markets

«The demand for new installations or for the widening of already existing ones is obviously larger outside Italy, especially in emerging markets where the «paper-making culture» is less established. We are talking about countries like Mexico, China, Malaysia and South-East Asia in general, as well as Eastern European countries, where the industry is experiencing a very strong growth», as Mr Galli well explains:

How do you work outside Italy? «We generally work in close collaboration with Italian and foreign machinery manufacturers of international standing and provide with the automation and electrification component. Over ten years of business activity we have so far manufactured 15 complete turn-key installations, three of which in 2015 alone».

Can you give some examples of «greenfield» installations, i.e. installations manufactured from scratch?

«Certainly. We have built paper-making installations in the United Arab Emirates and in Russia in collaboration with PMT Italy and in Bangladesh and Greece with Recard; we have also worked with Toscotec in Nigeria, Metso Paper, now Valmet, in Iran and again with Valmet in Algeria. Together with A.Celli Paper we besides built an installation in Mexico and one in Romania, which were delivered in November 2015 and December 2015 respectively. Worth pointing out is furthermore the startup of an installation for the production of nonwowens: this is a very peculiar and outdated activity for people working in our industry and we hope that new opportunities can open up after the event».

As regards the company’s activities abroad, Sandro Galli points out yet another aspect: «Although not dealing with the construction of a brand-new installation, the fact that we were chosen to carry out the revamping of two machines in the United Staten in 2016 was very important for us. This is a very important result, as the American market is known to be a very closed one: US companies tend to prefer local suppliers, therefore one has to work really hard to knock down the prejudices against foreign ones». How did you manage to achieve this result?

«Most of our European competitors propose Siemens or ABB solutions. Thanks to our know-how, instead, we can propose Rockwell, which is the most popular brand in the US paper industry: this has made it possible for us to convince them to test our proposal». Sandro Galli concludes with a view to the future: «America is one of our dream markets and the fact that we managed to enter it is an achievement that cannot be underestimated. We really hope that this work will pave the way for us to get other orders from the United States».

Customer service anywhere in the world

Sadas, which is led by CEO Giuseppe Simonini, as well as by its partners Luigi Franceschi, Marco Porta, Diego Bonvicini and Maurizio D’Olivo, aims at achieving full customer satisfaction focussing on competence, professionalism and the dynamism of its staff. Electrical system design, software, electrification, as well as automation and the start-up of new complete installations for paper productions are the skills that have made the company a reference point, which is valued worldwide by an increasingly large number of major industrial groups. This adds on to customer service: besides dealing with the start-up, baby-sitting and staff training at any installation, Sadas guarantees an efficient prevention maintenance programme, remote and telephone maintenance service, as well as ready response in case of emergency anywhere in the world.

«Greenfield» installations: two major examples

Sadas has finalized several greenfield installations. Two of them have been recently finalized with A. Celli. Sandro Galli provides us with more details: «Last November we delivered and started a large, 2,800 meter large, plant for the production of tissue paper in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. For this installation we provided Multi Drive ACS800 power converters, with AC engines, DCS 800xA control systems and ABB Quality Control System». The installation delivered last December in Romania is even more important. Galli adds that «the installation processes raw material, which is made up softwood paste for 25-35% and hardwood paste for the remaining 76-25% and has been conceived for the production of tissue paper with coat weight ranging from 13 and 35 g/m2, 8-28% crepe paper, with three-ply winding machine». The Romanian plant has a yearly capacity of 100,000 tons of tissue paper reels and can provide a pope format of 2,800 mm and a maximum production speed of 1,800 m/m.

Detail of the signal I/O cabinets for the A.Celli Paper plant in Mexico.
Detail of the signal I/O cabinets for the A.Celli Paper plant in Mexico.