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Start-up of Alfa Laval’s new brazed heat exchanger factory paves the way for greater capacity and enhanced customer experience

Alfa Laval’s brazed heat exchanger (BHE) production is moving into a new, purpose-built factory in San Bonifacio, Italy. Though only a short distance from the current site in Alonte, it will be a significant leap in terms of customer service and experience. Manufacturing has already begun at the advanced new facility, and preparations are being made for research and customer training on site.

Today’s answer to tomorrow’s challenges

As the need for energy-saving thermal equipment grows, Alfa Laval is ensuring not only the capacity to meet customer demand, but also the resources for continued development of heat exchanger solutions. The new BHE factory in San Bonifacio, where all major building work has now been completed, is a key part of this effort.

“Our new Italian factory will benefit Alfa Laval customers on many levels,” says Fredrik Ekström, President Business Unit Brazed & Fusion Bonded Heat Exchangers. “Larger, more automated and better situated for logistics, it has ample room for further growth and will shore up our BHE capacity for many years to come. In addition, it will feature an advanced lab for refrigerant research and a well-equipped training centre. The move drives both our production and our collaboration with customers forward.”

BHE production at the cutting edge

Modern in all aspects, the San Bonifacio factory is designed for efficiency, which includes having 1 MW of solar power installed on its roof. Besides loading bays, forklift-free internal logistics and other physical improvements over the Alonte site, it will have a digitalized warehouse management system to oversee the flow of materials and goods. In addition to increased capacity, the production itself boasts many new advances in manufacturing.

“In every way, the San Bonifacio factory integrates the future into today’s manufacturing,” says Massimo Balestrini, Vice President Operations and Product Group President BHE/FHE & WHE. “It has more space for machines, but above all it will be more productive. By automating processes and logistics, and by digitalizing in-factory communication, we make the work smooth and certain. This is a smart factory where speed, safety and quality will benefit everyone.”

Ensuring a smooth transition for customers

While the technology is important, the human element is key in making the move to San Bonifacio a success. “Our first priority is ensuring customers’ access to our products and expertise,” says Riccardo Marchetti, Senior Manager, Operations Development BHE and Project Manager for the San Bonifacio site. “We chose a location close to Alonte in order to retain our skilled workforce, including our application and laboratory specialists. Likewise, the move is a transition over many months, so as to prevent any quality or delivery disturbances.”

Despite the challenges of an ongoing pandemic, the transition has stayed largely on schedule. In September, the new factory received its ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 certifications, as well as PED, ASME and UL certifications. During the course of November, the ISO 50001 energy certification is expected to follow.

Elevating the customer experience

As production goes forward in San Bonifacio, Alfa Laval customers can expect more developments in the coming months. In particular, they can anticipate the opening of the refrigerant/thermal laboratory and the on-site training centre, which will offer them a wide range of new possibilities.

“This move is not only about building capacity, but also about building our cooperation with customers,” says Fredrik Ekström. “Customers will benefit immediately from the improvements in processes and logistics. However, the promise of the new San Bonifacio site is that we will continue to advance thermal innovation and deliver new levels of customer experience.”