A leader in the field of automatic food packaging machinery, Ricciarelli Packaging Machinery was founded, in 1843, under the name of 'Garibaldo Ricciarelli,' as a manufacturer of pasta dies. Over the years, the company underwent significant evolutions, while remaining in the food sector. Ricciarelli moved, in fact, from the production of dies to that of packaging machines, not only for pasta, but for other types of food products, such as cookies, candies, snacks, and so on.
In 1986 it became part of the Sasib Group (C.I.R.), which has a worldwide presence in the Packaging, Bakery, Bottling and Tobacco Machinery sectors. For more than 160 years, the historic Ricciarelli brand has been internationally recognized as synonymous with quality and guarantee in the packaging universe. Thanks to the experience gained, Ricciarelli Packaging Machinery today holds a position of world leadership in the packaging sector, both in terms of the completeness of its range and the technological avant-garde of its products. The company employs about 90 people and has generated in the Pistoia area, where it has always operated, an allied industry made up of many satellite companies.
Ricciarelli designs and develops machines and complete lines for weighing, packing and packaging dry, fresh and frozen food products, such as pasta, confectionery, snacks, dried fruit, baked goods, pet food, detergents and medical products. The high technological content of Ricciarelli's solutions stems from the company's ability to innovate and grasp the strongly changing needs of the food industry.
From mechanical to electronics
A meeting with Remo del Cortona, Electrical & Automation Coordinator at Ricciarelli, allowed us to understand how the collaboration with Ever Elettronica, a leading company in programmable stepper motor drives, came to fruition.
"Ricciarelli Packaging Machinery has a long history behind it," pointed out Remo del Cortona. "The specific experience gained, especially in the pasta packaging sector, has enabled the company to grow strategically and to develop ever new solutions, capable of satisfying a wide variety of packaging needs. The first packaging machines, made in the second half of the 1950s, were completely mechanical. Starting in the late 1960s, we also began to use electronics, directly producing the boards to drive equipment and motors. Today, however, the trend is to employ commercial electronics wherever possible, concentrating company resources on improving and expanding the range of weighing, packaging and cartoning machines, our 'core business'. It is with this in mind that we also chose commercial electronics for step motor control: for one machine in particular, we decided to collaborate with Ever Elettronica to supply motors, drives and Profibus interface board."
Curiosity is 'turned on'. What type of machine, in particular, required the use of Ever Elettronica's components?
"It is a special machine," Remo del Cortona again pointed out, "a solution that produces a double square bottom bag, a package that was created to be easily placed vertically (ed. note: standing) on the shelves, because the bottom and top are square. Originating in the early 1990s, this package has seen considerable success, as it allows optimal display of the product on the shelf, with the manufacturer's brand prominently displayed, unlike the so-called 'pillow' package, which is stacked, lying horizontally, with the brand often hidden. The double-square-bottom package has, therefore, the advantages of a cardboard case, but is much cheaper."
"In the packaging line," added Remo del Cortona, "this machine receives the package from another and, through various stations, trims, folds and reseals the top, applying a sticker label that will allow the consumer to open and close the package. The motorization of these complex operations, which are carried out by the packaging machine in a fast and precise manner, is entrusted to step motors controlled by Ever's electronics. Ever modules interface with Siemens modules through the Profibus interface, the well-known enterprise communication network. It should be added that the success of such packaging, driven by the Italian market, where traditionally the concentration of pasta factories is very high, has made the solution increasingly attractive, and, as a result, our company has increased the volumes associated with the sale of this packaging machine, especially over the past few years."
Looking at the future
What results have been obtained from the collaboration with Ever Elettronica? And what are the future developments?
"Thanks to the collaboration with Ever Elettronica and being able to take full advantage of their technologies and know-how," Remo del Cortona pointed out, "we developed a machine that has, over time, increased its performance. If initially the machine produced 40 packs per minute, today we reach 100. But it is not only the performance in terms of speed that is significant, because the bag produced was and is intended to also contain fragile products, so the movements also had to and must be relatively delicate. The machine can also make different types of packages, from half-kilo to one-kilo and more, being able to cover various formats. All major pasta factories in Italy and abroad have purchased this packaging machine. In the space of 10 years, the performance of this machine has more than doubled, a constant and continuous improvement made possible also thanks to the type of components that Ever Elettronica has supplied over time, components that have become more and more performing both in terms of efficiency and performance. Over the years of collaboration, Ever Elettronica has developed and improved its product making it more and more performant and functional to our needs. The partnership has been interesting precisely for this reason, because the relationship between Ever Elettronica and Ricciarelli has never been limited to the mere supply of material, but has resulted in a technical comparison, thanks to which we have together arrived at the best solution. Finally, the understanding with Ever Elettronica also became a winner because it resulted in the delivery of a complete 'package' of software that could be interfaced with ours."
"For the near future, we are thinking of a further step forward," added Remo del Cortona. "The idea is to upgrade the step motors now employed by introducing the on-board encoder model, realizing a closed-loop system and achieving even higher performance in terms of accuracy and speed."
"Since our relationship with Ever Elettronica has been in place forever," concluded Remo del Cortona, "we also turned to them for that need. With Ever Elettronica we have always got along well both from a technical point of view and in business relations. Machinery of this type we produce in the number of about thirty per year, a figure destined to rise, thanks also to the constant increase in performance. It should be added that, despite the period of economic crisis, pasta consumption has increased significantly, probably due to the low cost of the product, an increase noted not only in Italy, but also in North Africa, the East and America. Still, the food sector is doing well, but it is mainly the pasta sector that is registering substantial increases. And, also for this reason, despite the unfavorable economic situation, our company is receiving more and more requests for machines."