At Tanning Tech in Bologna Alpe Spak were featuring their Divididora Suprema splitting machine which is available for wet-blue/dry hides. There was a lot of interest shown in the machine which Alpe Spak say is entirely designed with the latest technologies and with high quality materials, with high performance, reliability and strict adherence to the latest health and safety regulations.

The grinding unit has been redesigned and now runs on stainless steel rails. This replaces the former iron rails and the consequent reduction in wear means that a lime version is also now available. The grinding unit is also more compact and the shaft has been modified which means that there is less pressure on the bearings which should now last longer.

Opening and closing is very fast and the main structure, head and bench are manufactured from a single welded structure. The company say the machine is very strong and able to resist any deformation. All parts are zinc coated to prevent any kind of corrosion.

The new control panel makes it possible to select different programs for different hides without the need to preselect and sort sizes onto different pallets. If hides are big they are split at 1.6, if medium at 1.4 and small at 1.2, each with their own program. It is now possible to switch from one program to another at the push of a button depending on the size of the hide when it reaches the operator.

Automatic feeding and extractor devices are also available.

Cartigliano were showing their Staktreking through-feed staking machine. They describe Staktreking as the latest generation of staking machines which exploits a new technology based on medium-high vibration frequency. Benefits are as follows:

* Good productivity

* Remarkable increase in yield

* Optimum and homogeneous softening

* Freedom from staking marks

* Reasonable costs

* Minimum maintenance required

* 24 months’ warranty

Vallero featured two new developments. Their Vortex drums, in either wood or stainless steel, feature three shelves of an unusual design which they have named Dragon shelves. The Dragon shelves are used in liming operations and for chrome tanning and dyeing the similarly shaped shelves are smaller and are interspersed with pegs. The internal design can also be applied to existing drums.

According to Marco Gnemmi, the Vortex offers a superior quality in all wet processes. It also increases the area of the hide after liming (+5%) while maintaining the same quality as that obtained in paddles. There are cost savings to be made through the use of less water (20-40%) and chemicals and a reduction in process times for all the wet operations (up to 50%). The drum can also handle larger loads.

Aware of the dangers of copying the Vortex was kept behind closed doors but the moment they were opened to show Leather International the interior design, we were joined by an inquisitive bystander who appeared out of nowhere. No wonder the machinery manufacturers were constantly looking over their shoulders for counterfeiters.

The second introduction by Vallero was the Mistral rotary basket vessel for milling and finishing leather with dry and humid conditions which are also suitable for items of leather clothing. The Mistral has a high loading capacity (up to 200 kilos dry weight with the Mistral 2500) due to the robust support structure and, according to Vallero, drying is achieved in minutes.

The Mistral features very fine air filtration for the separation of dust; a humidification system with atomised water; atomised injection of chemical products in solution and automatic control of humidity and temperature.

Turner were showing an improved version of their automatic grading machine, the Selectra. They have improved detection by introducing more categories of defect, leaving the user to choose the number and severity of defects to be identified, and have also made the process quicker so that 240 skins can be graded per hour instead of the former 120.

Vision technology is able to grade hides and skins objectively and consistently. Since many faults are not visible to the naked eye, it is necessary to formulate a realistic range according to the quality requirements of the customer. Faults are identified by type and severity on a scale of 1-4 for each zone, as well as for the overall hide or skin. The Selectra automatically grades hides and skins by assigning a level of quality to each skin according to user-defined criteria. These criteria are used to determine the acceptable surface percentage for each category of defect.

Pajusco were showing improvements to their successful X drum method which features a special internal shelf system and was introduced originally in 2005. The hides or skins are lifted at a reduced speed to the top of the drum and then dropped straight down into the float at the bottom. The reduction of the rpm by around 30% saves on electricity and because the part of the load which is in the liquor at any one time is also reduced there are savings in water and chemicals as well.

The system can be installed in any drum without the expense of buying a complete new unit. It is suitable for liming, tanning and dyeing. In addition to the use of less water and chemicals, Pajusco say there is less noise, less maintenance, and increased loads. Because the machine operates more slowly it is gentler on the leather which facilitates a greater yield and a better quality.

At Gemata, improvements had been made to the Jumbostar which allow for a pre-base coating with a stucco type paste applied to full grain leather. Gianni Maitan explained that there was no need for additional buffing after application because only small quantities are applied and then only to the area of the defect.

The Jumbostar roller finishing machine can spread in reverse rotation from 1-40 grams/sq ft of products for impregnation, pigment coating, fatliquoring and application of foams on splits, corrected and full grain leathers. It can reduce chemical consumption by up to 60% when compared with spray machines and offers good penetration and fixing due to the mechanical action of the engraved rollers.

Gemata also have a new drying tunnel Stardrier which features infra red lamps. There is no inner ventilation and suction is used to remove the fumes. In this way the traditional use of hot air which can contain impurities which are carried by the currents and dropped onto the leather is eliminated, making the tunnel suitable for drying automotive leathers.

Gemata were also featuring their new scrubber which is attached to spraying plants. Production began at the end of last year/early 2007 and replaces the earlier version of scrubber that they previously bought in. The scrubber is used to remove overspray and maintain clean air but had not been upgraded for ten years so Gemata decided to improve the technology and make it for themselves.

Air emissions are strictly controlled so Gemata knew that they would have to design and build a scrubber that was extremely environmentally friendly, highly efficient and also very easy to maintain. By means of filters and a water system, the scrubber prevents the excess spray finding its way into the atmosphere.

The scrubber unit is made from stainless steel AISI 304 and features four scrubbing chambers. The recycling water tank is also made in stainless steel and the open impeller, self-priming pump has a special double seal for water circulation. The water level is kept constant by means of a float.

There are a total of five doors for ease of maintenance and cleaning and a safety device stops the impeller if a door is opened. The impeller itself is coated with Teflon, making it self-cleaning.

The water pump filter can be removed for cleaning and this only needs to be carried out every 160 hours. Water is replaced weekly as before.

CM Tannery Machines had published a light hearted comic style leaflet based on The Amazing Adventure of Doctor Tannery which was actally an introduction to their through feed sammying machine for wet-blue with six cylinders which gives drying pressure on six sites of contact. The conveying speed is driven by four hydraulic motors and the working position of the hide stretching roller can be adjusted on the felt or the pvc belt to better stretch the hide.

The machine is equipped with an hydraulic device for regulating the pressure on the spreading roller which is always the same regardless of thickness of the hide. Maximum total drying pressure is 200 tons with independent control of the three pressure rollers.

Italprojetti were promoting their new dry milling drum in anti-static polypropylene which was designed for those tanneries who want to dry and mill wet leathers or skins in the same process to achieve certain effects such as bleaching, natural wrinkling and dry fatliquoring. When drying wet leathers (after vacuum dryer or setting out machine), it is necessary to adopt measures to stimulate evaporation of water content and the exhaustion of saturated air outside the drum.

An automatic system bypasses the filter during the exhaustion of air which contains excess humidity in order to avoid clogging up the filter sleeves. The software checks the programmed threshold and as soon as humidity values drop below the established level, air is once more conveyed through the filter.

To avoid thermal dispersion and unwanted condensation effects, the dust removal filter and external recycle pipe are completely insulated. The traditional electric system has been replaced by a heating system with batteries fed by steam, giving a higher thermal efficiency.

There is also a system for renewal or recycling of air to optimise the volumes of air exchanged and to expel excess humidity without dispersing too much heat.

Among other machines, Bergi were featuring their Finilux S which was making its first appearance at any fair despite being in operation in a number of tanneries. According to Mauro Bergozza, the pirating of Italian technology by other companies has become so widespread they are not anxious to unveil new machines to the public gaze but prefer to introduce them to their customers on a one to one basis.

The Finilux S is the most recent version in a long line of ironing machines and this latest model features an open gap which enables very soft leathers to be pressed. Ironing without pressure for smooth, wrinkle free leather has proved to be successful with major automotive tanneries for the final ironing as it gives a natural touch with no reduction in thickness.

The touch of the leather is probably its most important characteristic. With the Finilux S the open gap between the iron and the felt is adjustable and allows changes in pressure. Also the spreading conveyor offers the correct degree of traction which is essential to avoid wrinkles.

When it comes to tannery automation Bergi have been used to working through a joint venture company. They no longer work with their original partners and, instead, have formed Bertech. This is a family owned subsidiary but is run completely separately with its own technicians. The new company was founded in 2005 and by June they had delivered their first automatic piling machine.

Behind locked doors, Bergi had installed their Ecotiss air cleaner which is placed after the spray cabin. This is a brand new technology in that it is a completely dry process which requires no water at all. It also requires no maintenance or cleaning, just a change of filter.

Each cabin requires two rolls of filter/month based on an 8 hour/day. This leads to a considerable saving in water cleaning costs. Also changing water filters can be a dirty job. The new design is patented and now Bergi are working on building a spray cabin with the filter inside to eliminate the water filters currently in use in spray cabins.

There is a great deal of pressure on companies to clean up on dirty air emissions and Bergi already have the patents in place for a system which offers a continual change of filter. Emissions can be kept consistently clean and the arduous, dirty and costly job of cleaning the spray cabins will become a thing of the past.

Bauce were showing three new developments, one of which, a tank for soaking skins, was operating on their stand. By immersing skins using the automatic system, the motorised loading platform remains at the height of the operator for ease of operation. The system also means that skins are cleaned of any residue.

The system also incorporates a grating above the loading platform which allows the skins to be loaded using a spider. The tank can also be mounted on a mobile track system to facilitate repositioning and loading where limited space is an issue.

Bauce’s Stenpress MVC-4 2S/3S through-feed setting out and sammying machine is now available in a rubber conveyor version and their Stenpress Bluestar TA1S/TA2S hydraulic press is now faster than ever. It can now handle full thickness hides and sides at the rate of 30 metres/minute as opposed to the 20 metres/minute of the earlier version.

Following the news that Mosconi and Escomar had bought 3P, the three companies were sharing a stand at Tanning Tech. Mosconi were showing their Super Zenit 2007 splitting machine. Counter rollers to obtain a better thickness control are a major feature of the improvements to this model.

Escomar were promoting their wet-blue sammying machine with five rollers, Model PCR5, with pressure power to guarantee the correct level of leather humidity.