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WAMGROUP Marks 50th Anniversary

May 18, 2018
A WAMGROUP facility. Image courtesy of WAMGROUP
A WAMGROUP facility. Image courtesy of WAMGROUP

In the last five decades, WAMGROUP has become one of the worldwide leaders in the manufacture of screw conveyors and feeders, with an annual production of thousands of units in sizes varying from small screw diameters for mass production to diameters beyond four metres for special applications, such as Archimedean water lifting screw pumps. 

To this date, WAMGROUP has produced close to a million screw conveyors of various lengths and configuration. 

With its headquarters located near the northern Italian city of Modena, the Group currently employs over 2,100 people worldwide. 

Since 1968, the year in which Vainer Marchesini, the Group’s founder and current president, manufactured his first screw conveyor, the name WAM has come to stand for innovation in bulk solids handling technology and equipment supply. 

The start was made in the concrete industry. The Italian building boom of the 1960s had produced numerous concrete batching plant manufacturers with considerable demand for cement screw conveyors. Once the first customers were established, investments could begin. Until then, for the assembly of screw conveyors, bearing assemblies, couplings and drive units available on the market were used, although often these did not meet the special requirements of machines operating under tough field conditions. 

First, Marchesini began to design his own end bearing assemblies and intermediate hanger bearings, later followed by gear reducers with integrated drive bearing assemblies. Both bearing assemblies and gear reducers were perfectly coordinated with customers’ requirements. For the end bearing assemblies, flanged cast iron casings with integrated self-adjusting shaft seals were developed. Special gaps in the casing prevented material handled from invading the bearing zone. The main feature of the intermediate hanger bearings was a particularly flow-dynamic cast hanger with an incorporated slide bush. Marchesini’s idea of manufacturing his own gear reduction units could be considered revolutionary. Up until then, screw conveyor manufacturers depended on flange or foot-mounted gear motors, which were attached to the screw conveyor via a flexible coupling. Marchesini’s solution, on the other hand, was a single casing for shaft seals, end bearings and gears. 

Manufacture of mechanical components on custom-built machinery and jigs guaranteed perfect centring and parallelism. For the fabricated parts and for the assembly of the augers, too, special machines and tools were installed in order to obtain the highest possible quality and the smallest possible tolerances. The objective was to achieve higher throughput rates without altering the screw diameter. One condition for higher r.p.m., however, was a particularly suitable shaft coupling. The solution consisted in mounting splined shafts and applying matching splined bushes on the centre pipe of the auger. 

The new technology was soon applied in industries other than concrete and modified according to their requirements. After the asphalt industry came cement milling, lime and plaster processing, screw conveyors for de-watered biological sludge, for animal feed and flour mills, metering screw feeders for the chemical, the food and the glass industry, to name but a few. 

In 1978, the former artisan business turned into a private joint-stock company. Meanwhile, butterfly valves, slide valves and dust collectors had been added to the product range. The successful philosophy of serial production led the management to open new manufacturing divisions. 

1979 saw the setting up of SPECO – manufacturers of waste water handling equipment, such as water screw pumps, grit classifying and recycling screws, screw screens and screw compactors. 

In 1983, MAP, specialists in manufacturing industrial mixers, blenders and dust conditioners, started their business. Only a few years later, MAP granted their first manufacturing licence to a Japanese manufacturer of industrial mixers. 

In 1986, the development and production of complete computer-controlled dosing and weighing systems was well under way. 

One year later, TOREX supplied their first rotary valves followed by telescopic loading spouts, pinch valves and level monitoring equipment. 

By the beginning of 1991, a new powder discharging division, named EXTRAC, introduced its new range of products including automatic bag splitters, bulk bag emptying and filling units, and discharging bin activators. Today, WAM's EXTRAC Division ranks at the top among bin activator manufacturers worldwide. 

Since 1984, in the same way as the manufacturing divisions, over fifty foreign trading subsidiaries controlled by WAMGROUP Holding have been established in various countries. Today assembly lines for screw conveyors and dust collectors are operational in the USA to produce according to both U.S. and WAM standards. Other manufacturing and assembly plants were set up in China, Brazil, India, Croatia, Romania, Malta and Turkey. In areas where no subsidiary under corporate control takes care of the constantly growing number of customers, a global dealer network guarantees professional advice, smooth order management and a ‘round the clock’ spare parts service. 

Thanks to an experienced and determined management and a dynamic team, both the manufacturing divisions and the trading subsidiaries have succeeded not only in better assisting long-term customers but also in the ongoing conquest of new markets and industries. 

One of the cornerstones of WAMGROUP’s Vision & Mission is innovation. In order to match this requirement, the Group invests every year a considerable amount of its global turnover in R&D. Related activities, which are mainly devoted to handling and processing of powders and granular materials, are divided into basic and applied research. 

In this context, WAMGROUP's Corporate R&D department has taken part in various research programmes in collaboration with both Italian and international institutes, working together on international long-term projects with partners from the industry, as well as Italian and international universities. 

The general analysis of powdery and granular material behaviour is based on the analysis of internal material characteristics during conveying and mixing processes and on the interaction of those materials with containers and conveying devices. 

WAMGROUP’s R&D department takes particular interest in the advanced analysis of innovative materials, with a strong focus on engineering polymers, which has led up to designing of components for screw conveyors, dust collectors, mixers, valves and other WAMGROUP products. 

Another branch of R&D is involved in the analysis of new production processes for the manufacture of components dedicated to the Group’s product range. 

Though today a holding controls the companies of the Group, one fact has not changed since the beginning: the goal of each company and individual member of staff still is and always will be to offer high quality, industrially made, application-oriented, attractively priced products designed for the world market.

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