This year's SUBFOR exhibition (May 21-22) continued the 12-year tradition of showcasing Italian subcontractors' wares and skills to their largest export market—Germany. These small-to-medium sized manufacturers specialize in components and products in areas including power transmission, hydraulics and pneumatics, electronics, metals, and plastics. But 80% of the German industry attendees, on the other hand, represent medium-to-large size manufacturers, and are thus prized customers.
With today's global competition, supplying markets outside Italy can be a key to success of these firms. The Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (www.italtrade.com) organized the 176 exhibitors at this year's event, which alternates yearly between the industrial regions here—home to Mercedes and Porsche—and the Cologne area. The SUBFOR show boasts more Italian exhibitors than the annual Hannover Fair earlier in the spring and attracts delegations from 11 countries besides Germany.
But what mattered most to the manufacturers looking for suppliers to help solve their problems was out on the show floor. Here's a sampling of what they found.
AE. CAS. (www.aecas.it) showcased its solenoids, coils, microswitches, and relays, as well as electromagnetic brakes and clutches. The company makes these rugged parts for control in automotive and high-pressure pneumatic applications. A recent development is valves for controlling propane gas in propane/gasoline powered automobiles.
Facchi Franco (www.facchi.com) displayed a new modular assembly system. Here Administrator Alessandro Facchi demonstrated how the basic rails and fittings quick-fit together, forming enclosures designed for automation and machining systems.
Together in the same booth were P.M. (www.pm-spa.it) and Somaschini (www.somaschini.com). Cinzia Vandelli, an engineer for the former says its latest 5-axis machines do milling and turning, saving handling steps and time. Vandelli was proud that P.M. products are used to precision machine the engines on Ducati's racing motorcycles. Somaschini specializes in gears and transmissions with very fine surface finishes and applications in demanding environments such as logging equipment.
Francia Vanni e Silvano (www.francia.it) displayed its electrically powered transmission gears and Square Unit Line bevel gear drives. The company also featured the Meclift Line of worm gear screw jacks with options for stainless steel boxes and screws for use in food processing.
GSL Export (www.gslexport.it) serves as a representative for several subcontractors. It featured electronic control and safety systems for locomotives, x-ray machine controls, GSM dual-band controllers, and magnetic coils.
Specializing in pressure switches, sensors, and digital indicators, Elettrotec (www.elettrotec.com) touted the fact that its pressure switches are being used in the high tech world of Ferrari Formula 1 race cars.
Flex circuits were the order of the day at Selcom Elettronica (www.selcom.it). The firm is partnering with companies such as Agilent to develop microchip BGA (ball grid array) pads with an elliptical rather than a circular shape. According to sales engineer Claudio Tonielli, these are arranged in alternating long-axis orientations from row to row and will provide increased contact strength under vibration.
More information on the Italian subcontracting industry can be found at www.subfor.net.