Eco-friendly even before the Green LabelWhen it comes to the theme of sustainability, companies belonging to the shoe-machinery and tanning-machinery sector are one step ahead […]

Jul 12, 2017

When it comes to the theme of sustainability, companies belonging to the shoe-machinery and tanning-machinery sector are one step ahead of everyone else.  Among the most virtuous of these eco-friendly projects, here proposed are three prime examples:  the experience with oxidative liming promoted by Italprogetti, the optimization of injection processes proposed by Gusbi, and the Power Safe® system of Elettrotecnica BC.

“Although the oxidative unhairing process was first proposed around fifty years ago in Germany – explains Sergio Dani from Italprogetti – a technology making it applicable on an industrial level was missing.  For a number of years, Italprogetti has promoted the introduction of this practice as an alternative to sodium sulphide dehairing for the clear advantages offered up by the use of hydrogen peroxide.  Unlike sulphides, it does not have an unpleasant odour, does not pollute water, and does not persist in by-products.  Hydrogen peroxide does a better job of cleaning the leather, completely whitening it, while making it more reactive and less likely to absorb large quantities of chemical products in subsequent treatments”.

Notwithstanding the many advantages, the process has never truly been implemented by tanneries.  Can you explain why?  “A technology capable of providing a solution to the wear-and-tear of wooden drums, while limiting the build-up of heat during the oxidative process was missing – explains Sergio Dani – Italprogetti overcame this problem by creating plastic drums that were resistant to the corrosion caused by hydrogen peroxide, with a radiant cooling system that kept the temperatures low, below thirty degrees, which, if exceeded, would result in damage to the leathers”.  With the technical problem resolved, the next step was finding a solution to the commercial one:  obviously a process that is sustainable and that drastically reduces the use of chemical products is discredited from one end by the industry that makes money off it:  “Changing from a reductive to an oxidative process is an enormous effort we have been making for a number of years now.  Because it’s one thing to say that you support sustainable processes, but it is a whole other thing to actually do it:  fortunately, today, sustainability is rewarding, and companies are more aware, while even the consumer demands the use of sustainable processes and products”.

Oxidative liming has been the protagonist for the last seven years of the “Depox” (which stands for “oxidative unhairing”) project promoted by Italprogetti, together with Po.Te.Co, the Tanning Technology Centre based out of Santa Croce sull’Arno.  Among the companies currently using the Italprogetti oxidative liming system in their production is the tannery Dani from Arzignano.

Among the leaders in injection and caster technologies in the shoe-machinery sector, Gusbi has always reserved a special place of honour for sustainability, and even before the introduction of the Green Label, had made a series of systematic improvements to various devices, in order to optimize its processes:  “In particular, for the caster system – explains Irene Bianchi, representing the third generation of this Vigevano company – we have developed a hot-water washing system for the caster that replaces solvent washing systems with clear advantages.  From one end, for the worker, who is less exposed to chemical risk (in fact the operation requires the use of a special mask), and from the other end, the environment, since solvent waste disposal is no longer necessary”.  Furthermore, a robot used during the release phase of the injection and caster processes instead controls the spray, limiting the amount released to 0.1 grams, when compared to the 10-11 grams typically released by traditional workers:  “Automation keeps waste to a minimum and accordingly results in savings.  Moreover, unlike the worker, it can guarantee a continued optimal performance over the course of the entire day”.

Elettrotecnica B.C. also considers the theme of sustainability to be high priority.  Proof of this is that all of the new projects of this company from Vigevano use the Power Save® system, which, on average, allows for energy savings equal to around 30% for each machine.

“Through algorithm software we have succeeded in managing and optimizing changes in temperatures, so that extreme precision in heat emission is possible (keeping temperature loss to just under 0.5 degrees)”, explains Charly Di Bella, the Sales Director.

When compared with traditional systems – which have an error margin that arrives at even a 4 or 5 degrees difference – there is an incredible energy savings.

“On all our machines the Power Save® mark is always clearly visible, since for footwear manufacturers, all the machines that apply heat treatments represent the greatest expense in terms of energy consumption.  A savings in this sense is always highly appreciated”.  It allows companies to be more competitive in terms of production costs, as well as more effective in their sustainability, an issue today that is very important for suppliers to businesses and the end customer.

Among the Elettrotecnica B.C. machines fitted with the Power Save® system are included chill setters, heat setters, cement drying machines, and pneumatic presses.

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