“We Do Not Sell Machines, But Solutions”

Mauro Panizzolo explains in an interview with GLOBAL RECYCLING, how the Italian company was able to interpret the needs of the metal recycling market.

The metal recovery sector is constantly evolving. On the one hand, increasingly complex scrap is generated; on the other hand, the market requires increasingly refined products to be reintroduced into the production cycle. In between is Panizzolo Recycling System, a company that has been able to courageously interpret the valorization of waste-containing metals, becoming a leader in the sector, in Europe and all over the world.

The owner Mauro Panizzolo, who since the 1980s has given a turning point to the family business – which was founded in 1946 – talks about the secrets and the hardships of a constantly growing business.

You changed the company’s direction. How did get from trading ferrous scrap to a full-service provider for metal recycling?
You arrive step by step, with constant attention to the customer needs and many investments in research and development. However, behind it all, there is a fundamental value, which is reputation. It is something that comes from the roots of the “scrap shops”, an ancient world in which respect, honesty and transparency are most important.

The second key point is to offer something that really serves the customer. We started with crushing: our first hammer mill dates back to the late 1980s and has been constantly perfected for over 30 years. Today we have a highly specialized and flexible shredder according to the needs and the type of scrap to be processed. The idea was to gradually complete the process, or rather to produce material from the waste that could be defined as a new product. From the grinding came a waste difficult to treat, with parts of copper, brass, aluminum, steel, glass, and cement dust. A mix with little profitability, which often ended up in landfills or abroad. Precisely the closure of the borders for waste of a certain type was a great stimulus for us in offering our customers our new plant.

We have converted the mill in our headquarters in Pieve di Sacco, introducing a series of models in beta test. After two years of research, we have managed to bring the plant to perfection. We always start with hammer mills, mobile and stationary, which pulverize and granulate the scrap without exposing themselves too much to the wear and tear of glass and concrete. Once the material is pulverized, it becomes easier to separate the aggregates from the metals, by means of air and vibration, and then to distinguish by optical selection between metal and metal. In Bulgaria, last year, we worked with a company that carries out demolitions in Europe and which wanted a plant for the sorting of construction site scrap. We supplied them with the entire cycle: shredding, grinding, separation and refining, right up to the end of waste. This has generated value for them, in terms of image and profit, because they resell the recycled material.

Photo: Panizzolo Recycling Systems

What are the foundations of your technology?
The cradle is the fundamental element of our mill, easily removable, it allows external maintenance and quick change of the grids, guaranteeing the longevity of the machine. It is in fact the cradle that cushions, absorbs and manages shocks and stresses: its simplicity does not affect the performance of the machine, which has a very long durability.

Together with the mill we also supply those accessories and complements that make up the entire recycling solution. Belts, soundproof booths, metal separation systems, sieves, zigzags, densiometric tables and more are both made internally by us and in collaboration with highly qualified and certified partners. Our machines, if desired, close the cycle, but the customer can stop at the level he wants, from simple shredding to the complete plant.

The system is controlled by software that allows remote control and management via computer or smartphone. Although the machine is able to self-regulate the intensity of processing by itself, even for eight to ten hours. The software uses a standard base on which our system relies. Obviously, all in the context of Industry 4.0, which allows incentives and tax reliefs.

In recent years the company has grown exponentially, how did you manage the growth?
The positive trend started in 2014, with a fairly straight line. Since 2018, the straight line has become a vertical hyperbola, +25, +30, + 40 percent per year. In this growth we have had to meet the demands of the market, not only in numerical terms (more machines, more plants), but above all from a qualitative point of view, satisfying the requests of the individual customer and the demands of the market.

For this reason, company growth has been accompanied by more studying and training of personnel, at all levels, but also by a new structuring of roles and processes, in order to offer efficiency, quality and values to our customers. Then, of course, we invested in the structures: new equipment that boosted our productivity and a third location dedicated to the warehouse and service. The difficulty and commitment were great, but the satisfaction was equally important. Seeing the old customers, starting from our hammer mills, which grow and become international realities, thanks to the investments they continue to make with us – this is the best business card for new acquisitions.

Photo: Panizzolo Recycling Systems

What projects are planned for the near future?
This year we will proceed with a series of investments dedicated to the renovation of the historic headquarters in Piove di Sacco. During the year, we will install new upgrades in the machinery and, at the same time, we will improve the general appearance so as to make it a perfect showcase and test area for our customers. These are very demanding jobs, but we plan to finish them by the end of this year.

Another plus that characterizes us is the training offered to the customer. We are therefore structuring a sort of Academy capable of transferring skills to the customer before the installation of the system. When the plant is ready, it undergoes training in the field, with one of our ultra-specialized technicians.

This year we were at IFAT with a renewed stand. We presented ourselves from a more industrial perspective: an Italian company with an international vision and aesthetics, in line with our strategies. This trend will continue at Ecomondo, the other major European fair this year.

Looking ahead: What does the post-pandemic market hold? And how will Panizzolo deal with that?
I have the impression that the market in the metal recovery sector, in the last year, has been a bit drugged by the hammer blow of Covid, which first blocked and then relaunched the activities with an injection of incentives and concessions. The concern is that the situation is somewhat inflated and that the market may soon become saturated, with a slowdown and a physiological adjustment. Compared to other competitors, we have chosen to specialize in just one sector. There is a good job potential and we are opening up to new markets, but we always keep our feet on the ground. We are not interested in selling a machine or a plant, but in selling a solution that can improve the work of companies. In fact, I think that achieving the objectives together with the customer is one of the things that gives us the most satisfaction. For us, a satisfied customer means a customer who is doing good business with our systems.

Mr. Panizzolo, thank you for this interview.


(Published in GLOBAL RECYCLING Magazine 3/2022, Page 15, Photo: Panizzolo Recycling Systems)