SACMI is celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary this month. Founded on December 2, 1919 in Imola, Italy, the company is now an international group with 4,500 employees and 4,500 patents, and is a leading provider of machines and complete plants to the metals, Power Metallurgy, advanced materials, ceramics, packaging and beverage-closures industries.
Shortly after World War I, SACMI was founded by nine unemployed mechanics and blacksmiths from Imola as the Società Anonima Cooperativa Meccanici Imola. By the mid-1930s, it had developed its first own-brand machine, and after World War II began its activities in ceramics and packaging.
In the 1960s the group, which had been exporting more than 80% of its output for some years, expanded internationally while maintaining its strategic and productive core in Italy. The group went on to make steady progress from machine maker to plant engineering provider, covering every stage of the process from raw material preparation to finished product logistics.
In the 2000s, SACMI was quick to seize the opportunities offered by the progressive digitalisation of factory processes. It launched comprehensive new solutions, such as the SACMI Continua+ line for large slabs, and channelled additional resources into customer services.
In recent years, the company has been focused on research and development into new materials, products and processes with reduced environmental impact. Between 2014 and 2019, it achieved some of the best results in its history, generating revenues of over €1.4 billion in 2018. Over that same period, its investment in research– over €220 million – and the protection of its intellectual property have remained strong.
Today, the company’s headquarters in Imola employs about 1,200 people, with its headquarters remaining the hub of all its strategic, high-added-value operations. Imola is also home to the SACMI Research Center, established in 1989, which now has a nearly 300-strong team of technicians, engineers and researchers. The parent company, SACMI Imola, controls over eighty manufacturing and service companies in thirty countries worldwide.
“The SACMI story is an extraordinary tale. It mirrors the industrial growth of both Italy and the town of Imola, home to cooperative movement that has given substance to a dream, that of creating shared well-being through work,” stated Paolo Mongardi, President of SACMI Imola. “It’s extraordinary because the company has always faced the future with far-sightedness, combining innovation and a strong focus on customer care with a set of core values – cooperation, solidarity, community – that still shape our decisions today.”
Some future challenges faced by SACMI include the rapid growth of robotics and automation, enabling technologies, the ever-increasing focus on sustainability and new materials. Thanks to its ongoing investment in research and the far-reaching reorganisation of governance enacted in recent years, Mongardi stated that SACMI is prepared for these challenges.
“SACMI is a cooperative. As such it belongs to no-one but is, rather, a collective asset to be nurtured and passed on to future generations. That means looking far ahead, all the way to 2030,” he explained. “It means deciding what we want to be, thinking about the challenges that await us and how we can prepare today to seize all the opportunities of tomorrow.”
Examples of SACMI’s drive to address these future challenges are the signing of a partnership at the beginning of the year with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This partnership puts the SACMI Group in close contact with almost 2,000 start-ups around the world that work on cutting-edge technologies in areas of keen interest to our company.
More locally, the new SACMI Innovation Lab is dedicated to the implementation of ground-breaking 4.0 enabling technologies both within the company and in the wider SME community in Emilia-Romagna. Another key factor is training. “SACMI took on its first qualified engineer back in the 1950s and today there are over 200 engineers working at the Imola plant alone,” noted Mongardi.