Fabrication case study: Processing blocks in Carrara, Italy

April 9, 2002
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Henraux of Forti dei Marmi, Italy, fabricates blocks taken from its statuary white marble quarries in Altissimo as well as blocks it imports from around the world.


The company has several wire saws, including one from Micheletti.
With about 180 years of experience in the stone industry, Henraux S.p.A. of Forte dei Marmi, Italy, has learned what it takes to build a successful business. Since its creation, the company has persevered through several changes in ownership as well as World War II, which nearly destroyed its operation. Today, Henraux is equipped with state-of-the-art stoneworking machinery, which has enabled it to meet market demands and establish a solid name for itself internationally.

Dating back to 1821, the company?s beginning can be credited to a well-known historical figure -- Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Emperor. According to the company?s records, Napoleon had sent one of his lieutenants, Jean Baptiste Henraux to the Apuan Alps -- a region in Italy with a reputation for vast marble deposits -- to select a piece of marble that would be worthy of celebrating Napoleon?s greatness. While on this mission, Henraux learned a great deal about marble and the quarrying process. As a result, he decided to open his own company, which still bears his name today.

Among the quarries in the Apuan Alps that Henraux visited was the statuary marble quarry of Mount Altissimo, which supplied material to the renowned Italian artist Michelangelo for his masterpieces. Henraux was so impressed with the Altissimo quarries that he re-opened them when he started his company.

For 100 years, Henraux was a family-operated business. It was not until May 1921 that it became a public company, Soc. An. S.Henraux, and was taken over by the Belgian Group, S.A. de Merbes Sprimont, a subsidiary of the Societe Generale de Belgique. At this time, the group invested in the business by purchasing a new plant and equipment.

Business progressed under the Belgian Group?s direction until June 1944, when production at Henraux was halted due to World War II. The company?s plants, offices and quarries were located on the "Gothic Line" and almost completely destroyed. When the war was over, reconstruction began at Henraux under the supervision of an Italian group, which then took control of the company.

This capital was made with a 5 Axis Brembana stoneworking center.

The company today

In total, Henraux¿s properties stretch for 4,834 acres. The company has 53 quarries, which produce a vast range of materials. Additionally, Henraux imports marble and granite from all over the world and fabricates the materials for many international projects, including both residential and commercial architecture.

Within the last 20 years, Henraux has concentrated on developing increasingly sophisticated stone cladding systems for skyscraper facades -- ranging from increasingly slimmer panels to panels prefabricated on cement to a curtainwall systems. Also, the company is working to devise new modern methods of production of patterned floors and decorative carvings.

The factory is equipped with some of the latest technology, including a full range of machinery from Breton S.p.A. Among the Breton equipment are 12 gangsaws for cutting granite blocks; three gangsaws for marble; a polishing line; a Breton AC-DC cutting line; and the MasterBreton, a machine designed to detect cracks in slabs and advise the best way to make cuts on each piece. Additionally, the plant is equipped with two Flow waterjets, a Brembana 5 Axis stoneworking center and several wire saws manufactured by Candiani Attilio and Micheletti.

The state-of-the-art machinery enables Henraux to produce materials at a steady rate. It fabricates tiles, slabs and cut-to-size pieces for projects all around the world. Back in its beginnings, the first large-scale job that Henraux was commissioned to supply marble to was the Church of St. Isaac in Leningrad. Since then it has continued to build its portfolio to include many large commercial architecture in countries such as Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

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