CIFA’s ambitions fuelled by R&D gains
CIFA managing director Davide Cipolla says the Zoomlion-owned firm is benefiting greatly from a huge R&D investment
CIFA managing director Davide Cipolla said the Zoomlion-owned firm has “not reached the limit” of what it can offer customers, thanks to a significant investment in research and development.
Cipolla, who is also research and development director of the Zoomlion Group's concrete division, commented on a €2million-a-year R&D investment for CIFA and some Zoomlion products over the last five years saying, “This is the first stage of [product] development.”
At Bauma 2013, CIFA is introducing an innovative hybrid plug-in truck mixer in the form of its Energya 9 model. While it features a conventional 9m³ capacity mixer drum, the rotational drive system is electric, and the machine is equipped with a lithium ion-type battery pack that is charged up while the truck is being driven, supported by regenerative braking.
When the mixer stops on site, the drive to the drum is supplied either by the battery pack or can be plugged into a mains power supply. This allows the driver to turn off the engine and save on fuel, as well as reducing exhaust emissions. Mixing and unloading can be done using the battery pack or mains power, offering a significant reduction in overall fuel use over time.
The system has been developed in partnership with Milan Polytechnic and CIFA has filed a large number of patent applications for the technology.
“The prime market is the big key [customer] accounts, who understand that this is the future [for truck mixers] in Europe,” said Cipolla. “The need to find a cost-saving, fuel saving, and to tackle environmental and noise problems in the city centre has become more and more important.”
Of other results of R&D investment, Cipolla said the company’s carbon fibre boom and machine control technologies were major advances for the concrete machinery sector. Of the carbon fibre boom section, he added, “The material is so new. It is a continuous evolution. We do not know the limit. There are so many advantages. The only real problem is the cost. The carbon fibre is a niche production for the moment. The performance is so elevated in terms of lightness, more resistance, and more rigidity. It is the future.”
Cipolla said Russia, Brazil, China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Germany were some of the key future markets for the firm’s range of concrete machinery.
“Germany’s market is growing. Russia needs everything: infrastructure, buildings, and it has the [Sochi 2014 Winter] Olympics. Turkey is a little different. There has been a great boom in residential building and the government has the ability to invest.”
Having an international network with presence in many different countries is seen by Cipolla as a way of balancing critical dip market countries with booming ones, while still generating increased sales revenues and profits.
An example of a significant national sales dip is the 60% reduction in CIFA’s sales revenues in its native Italy in the last five years. However, Cipolla said the firm still retains 90% of the concrete machinery market.
“We are investing together with the [Zoomlion] Group in Brazil and India in order to have more possibilities for the future. We are starting now to build a production facility in Brazil to produce some products locally, in particular some truck-mounted pumps, truck mixers and batching plants.” Cipolla said the production plant, 70km north São Paulo, was scheduled to open in 2014.
A similar facility near Delhi, India is likely to take two years to build, said Cipolla.