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Flexibility is key for Italian construction company Vezzola SpA

In order to supply large amounts of materials for the ever growing and diverse requirements of the Italian construction industry, one company located in the north of the country has arrived at a solution that aims to be as flexible and productive as possible. The need for this solution lies in the intricacies of the Italian construction market, which requires a great variety of products to exacting specifications. Vezzola SpA believes it has arrived at a system that delivers a flexible response that combines high production volumes with a wide range of products.

Vezzola SpA, a family owned and operated company, was formed in Desenzano del Garda (Lake Garda) at the end of the 1950s and is still headquartered there. The company began extracting and supplying sand and gravel to local construction companies, subsequently expanding its offering with the production of cement and bituminous conglomerates and earthmoving works. The company operates a vertically integrated business model capable of serving the ever changing – and growing - customer requirements including using waste construction material in the manufacture of bituminous and cementitious conglomerate. The company headquarters on Lake Garda is located just one hour away from Milan and Venice, benefitting from the region’s large and efficient infrastructure system, with the central location providing a strategic hub that is able to serve the complex and diverse northern Italian infrastructure requirements.

Customer focused supply chain

Vezzola’s production cycle starts with the excavation of material at its quarries, or from the procurement of materials from other quarries and suppliers, depending on the specific requirements of customers. The company operates three large quarries and sand pits located at Montichiari, Lonato and Manerba, taking advantage of the large mineral deposits in the immediate vicinity, employing 90 people who are purpose trained at Vezzola’s own training facility. Annual production is in the region of 1,200,000 tons of natural and recycled aggregate; 400,000 tons of asphalt and 250,000m3 of concrete.

14 classes of aggregates are produced at the most modern plant in Montichiari due to the flexibility achieved in the plants. There is also the facility to produce different and non-standard concrete and asphalt mixes which are first tested at the company laboratory and then sampled by specialized external laboratories. One such project involves the use of excavated tunnel material with a view to remove impurities in order for it to be used as aggregates for producing concrete and asphalt. If not used as construction aggregate, the quarried material is processed at cement, concrete and asphalt plant operations located at Montichiari, Lonato and Manerba.

Adding to its supply of materials, since the 90s the company has embraced the circular economy (as well as adopting Italian and EU environmental legislation and specifications) producing an increasing quantity of material recycled from construction works. These are processed at Vezzola’s plants located at Montichiari and Lonato, with the material coming from the company’s own construction works as well as being provided by third parties. All Vezzola production plants operate according to a ‘Factory Production Control’ (FPC) in compliance with the procedures filed with the Italian Central Technical Service of the Higher Council of Public Works.

In effect, this all means that Vezzola provides through its multifaceted operations and locations a variety of services that are able to cover the entire production chain, from the extraction and processing of natural aggregate, to research and development for using recycled materials. Materials are used for producing cement and bituminous conglomerates, for use on road and civil construction projects including airports, viaducts, roads and tunnels.

Flexibility is key

With quarries and plants to operate and diverse customer requirements to satisfy, Vezzola has developed a plant solution that maximises the efficiency of its operations. Thus, all recent investment in plant has been for mobile solutions that can easily be transported to where they are required. One such operation is based in Montichiari (Brescia), a new high performance quarry plant that is designed to produce large quantities of high quality sized aggregate, whilst simultaneously placing emphasis on environment and safety. Although the plant is of a considerable size, it has a very small impact on the surrounding environment as it is entirely contained in the extractive basin. The contour area and escarpment of the basin have been planted and restored, whilst noise and dust are also contained by means of a sophisticated control, suction and humidification systems. At the location, the quarry produces sized aggregates, ‘round concrete materials’ and crushed products for bituminous conglomerates, which are stored and separated into 13 different classes.

The preparation of specific material is undertaken using an automated loading system, managed by PLC, which ensures maximum precision and reliability in the preparation of the mixes and therefore of the finished product. In addition to the standard production of the plant, Vezzola is also able to provide customised concrete and asphalt mixtures on request, automatically managing up to five hundred different mixtures. The plant can operate upto 400 tph, with equipment from Vezzola’s versatile and mobile fleet being able to be used if and when required.

As well as its sand and gravel extraction operations, Vezzola has five concrete plants which are designed for greater homogeneity of the compound and performance consistency of the products. The last plant built with these characteristics is based in Sabbio Chiese (Brescia) in 2008. It is located in a former quarry basin, where the company cooperated with the local authorities to devise and implement an ambitious environmental restoration plan. The plant uses Liebherr technology that ensures low noise and atmospheric emissions and zero emissions to the ground and aquifers.

New ways of thinking

Vezzola believes that a successful company must not only be a partner to its customers but also form a close relationship with its suppliers. This has proved to be essential as all its operations rely on a variety of crushing, screening, loading, hauling and excavation equipment from one company. “One of Vezzola's most important operational partners is CGT SpA, a Caterpillar and Sandvik dealer. Caterpillar earthmoving machinery is used to carry out infrastructure works and undertake loading and uploading operations at the company's operations. A broad and transparent dialogue has been cultivated over the decades of partnerships between the companies, which are essential for correctly planning the turnover of machinery and always maintaining high efficiency of the machinery,” says Diego Brunello, Vezzola SpA’s production manager.

“In recent years, also thanks to the important stimulus program of the Italian government for the development of automation systems called ‘Industry 4.0’, the interconnection between earthmoving machinery and the company's headquarters has increased significantly. These investments have increased the workplace safety in the use of the machines, the ability to schedule maintenance interventions, the control of the efficiency of the machines and above all the data usage on the handling of materials. The latter are increasingly requested by clients, in order to improve the quality of the infrastructural works carried out.

“In partnership with Sandvik, it was decided to renovate part of the mobile systems as the flexibility that the systems could offer was fundamental. In fact, the business unit focused on the production of building materials not only processes limestone material but also recycled material. Decades of research and development have led the company (Vezzola SpA) to produce on a large scale these materials from demolition works, milling of road pavements and recovery of steel waste. Large quantities of significantly different products are processed within the waste treatment platforms of Lonato del Garda and Montichiari,” added Mr Brunello. He continued; “It was therefore necessary to find extremely flexible mobile systems, which could be easily transported from one plant to another and whose layout could quickly change from one to the other avoiding high costs of maintenance. A change of mentality was therefore made, passing from fixed plants that process the various products to mobile plants that are transported to the various plants and process the materials directly. This change of mentality leads to lower CO2 consumption, since the materials are not moved from one plant to another but it is the plant that moves itself.”

Reliability, performance and the environment

As well as a variety of Cat equipment, a Sandvik mobile crusher and screen are used to process very different inert materials.

Sandvik is the most reliable partner that best embodies these three characteristics. Sandvik is close to the customer thanks to a widespread sales network entrusted to the company CGT SpA (in Italy). This advantage is irreplaceable as the answers are fast and certain. Reliability as the service is impeccable, maintenance is fast and accurate.

Finally, the research that has been done on the reduced emissions have made possible to have machinery with a low environmental impact. In the last two years, the focus on innovation has shifted from product innovation to environmental innovation. We believe that the reliability of a company is also measured in the knowledge accumulated after years of research and development and which will become new income in subsequent years. The search for the right partner is a very important, indispensable effort especially in a world where uncertainty reigns supreme. The resilience of companies is today more than ever the minimum requirement to maintain one's leadership,” explained Mr Brunello.

Maximized plant efficiency

To ensure that its quarries, cement-concrete and asphalt plants operate efficiently (as well as its construction operations) a plethora of Caterpillar earthmoving vehicles and trucks are used, including some of Cat’s latest ‘Next Gen’ developments. Alongside these, the Sandvik equipment consists of a QI341 HS impact crusher and QA335 Doublescreen. Vezzola uses them both for recycling (demolition and asphalt) and at its quarries, depending on current requirements. “Vezzola chose Sandvik because its trademark technologies ‘Doublescreen’ and ‘Prisec’ make the difference. Doublescreen enable the screener to produce 30% more in respect to another model of the same class. Thanks to Prisec, the impact crusher could work as primary or secondary having the same production and quality. That gives to Vezzola the opportunity to use the machines in different applications,” stated Diego Brunello.

Vezzola SpA purchased its first Sandvik equipment in 2017 and is a CGT SpA customer of longstanding. The company acquired its first Cat machine in the 1960s, now owning and operating 10 Cat hydraulic excavators, nine Cat wheel loaders, two Cat dozers, one Cat motor grader and three Cat skid steer loaders. Other equipment is hired in from CGT as needed.

First appeared in Aggregates Business Europe March-April 2021.

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