SLAB PRODUCTION: Innovations Continue for Verona Stone Producer

March 13, 2006
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In order to better serve a worldwide customer base - and increase its presence in the U.S., Stocchero Attilio & C. invested in a modern Simec slab-processing plant, which uses Tenax resin technology.

Stocchero Attilio & C. recently established a new modern slab plant, and it also continues to upgrade its existing technology

One of the major stoneworking companies in the renowned Verona region, Stocchero Attilio & C. of Volargne, Verona, Italy, has made its name predominantly through its sales in the European market. But it has now turned its sites towards exporting to North America, and it has established a new state-of-the-art plant for resin-treated slab production.

Two large-scale ovens maximize and speed the resin-application process, and each oven can hold 60 slabs at one time.
The facilities in Volargne include multiple buildings, and the vast majority of production is granite. The new resin plant - which has been equipped entirely with the latest generation of stoneworking technology from Simec - includes a range of different calibrating and polishing lines, so that slabs may be processed on lines suited for each stone's individual technical properties. For example, calibrating lines feature a range from 10 heads up to 18 heads, and polishing lines are in both 18-head and 22-head varieties. The various lines are positioned so that they can be used individually or as part of a multi-step calibrating and polishing process.

Generally, raw slabs are first calibrated to a honed finish, and they are then placed in a large oven that can dry up to 60 slabs at one time. This removes all moisture from the slabs. Next, resin products from Tenax S.p.A. of Italy are automatically applied to the material. The slabs then move onto a vacuum unit to drive the resin deeper into the stone. After this step, the resin is reapplied as needed to fill any remaining voids, and the slabs then move to a second, 60-slab oven for curing.

The slabs then move onto a vacuum unit to drive the resin deeper into the stone. After this step, the resin is reapplied as needed to fill any remaining voids.<
After the resin cures, the slabs move onto the appropriate Simec Model NP2200 RX polishing line to receive their final polish.

The processing line also includes sawing equipment from Simec to trim the edges of the slab, although Stocchero generally prefers to only trim two edges. This allows the slabs to be more easily loaded onto a container, but also avoids the “manufactured” look of engineered stone.

In designing the new plant, Stocchero wanted a streamlined operation. The company reported that it conducted a great deal of research, and it wanted all of the components of the line to come from a single manufacturer. Additionally, it felt the trimming line would improve overall quality and distinguish Stocchero from typical slab suppliers.

In total, the Volargne operation has approximately 215,000 square feet of covered space and 215,000 of open space. There are 30 workers in all, including the plants, office, management and drivers. Of this total, the new slab plant has only six workers - due to the high level automation in the facility. Production at the new plant stands at nearly 11,000 square feet per day, and Stocchero's overall production in Volargne is around 21,500 square feet per day.

After the resin is applied and cured, the slabs are polished as required on one of the Simec slab polishing lines, which are equipped with as many as 22 polishing heads.
Currently, 10% of Stocchero's production is shipped to the U.S., although it is looking to increase that figure to 20 to 25% in the immediate future. In fact, the goal is for half of the new plant's production to be shipped to the U.S. market.

Materials processed by Stocchero include stones from countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and India, and in addition to granite, product offerings include rare fossilized stones. For example, at the time of Stone World's visit to Stocchero's new factory, it was working with a new brown fossilized stone from Morocco. This also sets Stocchero apart from the competition, as it does not want to simply follow the current popular trend of exporting green and gold stones to the U.S.

A large inventory of finished slabs is maintained at Stocchero's facility.

Upgrading existing technology

In addition to establishing a new plant, Stocchero also upgraded its existing machinery with new tooling. For example, a 19-head Levibreton KG 2000 polishing line, which was purchased five years ago, has been fitted with AirFlex brushes from Tenax to achieve a brushed finish on granite slabs. This process maintains the natural color of the granite while adding texture.

Stocchero refers to this textured finish as “Satinato,” and it is available in a wide variety of granite materials.

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