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Italy's Legacy of Machine Manufacturing

It might not be the first place you think of when it comes to high-tech machine tools, but Italy has a long history of producing equipment that helps manufacturing plants operate efficiently. For instance, The Sacmi Group has been doing it since 1919. The US$1.7 billion company provides machinery for the packaging, beverage, ceramics, food processing and plastics industries. The company has come a long way from its beginnings as a staff of nine mechanics and blacksmiths. Sacmi has survived dictatorships, wars and economic hardships in its 90 years to grow to a worldwide staff of more than 3,500.

Just recently the company introduced a powerful tile press to meet increased market demand for large tiles. The company refers to the model, called the PH 10000, as "the most powerful tile press ever built." The machine features a pressing force of 10,000 tons and a powerful "electronic brain" that communicates with the press via a fieldbus.

In its most recent annual report Sacmi highlighted its goal to produce more technologically advanced machinery through its R&D center in Imola, Italy, the site of the company's headquarters. The company set aside about US$44 million for research and development in 2008. Its R&D center consists of a network of chemical-physical laboratories and experimental departments for the testing of ceramic/beverage prototypes and pilot plants, located in what's known as Europe’s most advanced mechatronics district.

In 2008 the R&D center made 16 applications for international patents as per PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) protocol, 23 European patent applications and 158 national patent applications, according to the company.

Pietro Carnaghi is another Italian machine manufacturer that's endured over decades to provide manufacturers with high-tech plant-floor equipment. Dating back to 1922, the company provides vertical lathes, movable portals milling machines, and vertical grinding machines for manufacturers.

Also bringing advanced manufacturing to the plant floor is Jobs S.p.A. Founded in 1978, the company produces five-axis robotic machines. In 1979 Jobs introduced a manipulation robot with high-load capacity. Over the years, the company has established itself as a leading provider in Italy of high-power high-speed machines and automated milling systems with three and five axes for various industries, including aerospace, automotive, general engineering and the energy fields.

The company exports 80% of its production to the industrialized countries worldwide. Its main site employs approximately 200 employees.

In September, Jobs said it reached an agreement to take over Sachman Co., a manufacturer of horizontal milling machines. Jobs expects the move will widen its market reach, including commercial and technical support services in Europe, Russia, India, China, the United States and Brazil.

The takeover also should provide it with a range of products that complements its current offerings in the energy, aerospace, automotive and general mechanical fields, the company said.