in Vol. 14 - September Issue - Year 2013
Research & Innovation As The Key Of Success
Michele Bandini, General Manager of Peen Service s.r.l, and Remo Norelli, President of Norblast Group
The company of Peen Service
Peen Service is a research and development center and a job shop for shot peening in Italy. MFN was able to get an interview with Michele Bandini, General Manager of Peen Service s.r.l, and Remo Norelli, President of Norblast Group.
(?) MFN: Good morning Remo, this is the first time we are meeting for MFN right?
(!) R. N.: Right, and it’s a real pleasure for me.
(?) MFN: Would you like to tell us how Peen Service was born?
(!) R. N.: Sure. Before starting my business venture, I was dealing with machine tools. I sold machinery from the simplest parallel lathes to the most complex workstations. Those early years made me understand that in all mechanical companies that I had the pleasure to visit, there was always, as a common denominator, a process bottleneck. It did not matter how technologically advanced companies were or what incredible machines they had, in the seventies, deburring, and more generally, surface finishing, was the hidden problem of that time.
(?) MFN: What do you mean by a hidden problem?
(!) R. N.: As a matter of fact, the finishing was approached with predominantly manual methods, but nevertheless they were resolved. This caused the finishing problem to be underestimated for a long time. However, the manual process did not guarantee the consistency of the results and especially made costs rise incredibly by binding the result to the capabilities of the operators. I've always had the idea of being able to automate the finishing process and when I saw the first sandblasting machine, I was captured by the idea of using it precisely for those problems that I was facing every day.
(?) MFN: So what did you do?
(!) R. N.: Today everything seems incredibly simple, but at that time, it was very different. Company technologists were very sceptical about that, so I figured out that the first thing to do was to develop and disseminate technical knowledge. We developed many trials and after a few years of experimentation on surface finishing, I came to know about the shot-peening treatment. It was a real shock. It was not longer just a finishing process, I could even increase the mechanical properties of metals. It was clear that simple experimental tests would no longer be sufficient. It was necessary to give structure to the research.
(?) MFN: And so you met Michele?
(!) R. N.: Yes, I was looking for a young student who could develop the theme of shot peening. Michele has research in his veins and he was immediately enthusiastic to develop this theme.
(?) MFN: Michele, today you are the General Manager of Peen Service. Could you tell us how it went?
(!) M. B.: I joined the company in 1990 during my thesis in mechanical engineering. I had just graduated, and Remo asked me to stay to do research. There were just 12 of us, almost all involved in production. Alone, I would never have made it. I remained on very good terms with my professors at the University of Bologna, so I asked them to collaborate on research topics about shot peening. The idea was very much appreciated. The professors had the opportunity to establish good ties a la Companies-University, students had interesting topics to develop, and for us, the opportunity to use the resources of university laboratories.
(?) MFN: And does such activity still continue?
(!) M. B.: Sure, since we started, the collaboration has been extended to other Italian universities. Today we collaborate actively and steadily with the Faculties of Engineering of the Universities of Bologna, Milan and Trento. We have produced 14 dissertations and several scientific publications. One of the latest was also presented at the International Conference on Shot Peening ICSP11 of Chicago in 2011.
(?) MFN: Very interesting, but how are you using such knowledge derived from research?
(!) M. B.: The way we use our knowledge is articulated on several fronts. The first, and certainly the most important one, is the consultancy we can provide to our customers. We are specialists in mechanical fatigue, a very complex phenomenon that as far as may be known and calculated, still hides dark sides. The knowledge and experience gained over the years have enabled us to support design departments of our clients in finding the most suitable solution. A second front is the one of conventions. We carry out training seminars on shot peening at both corporate and university levels. Many times, the shot peening is not used properly or is not used at all, only because the real potential and the correct method to apply it are not known. We put great effort in spreading knowledge about this treatment because we believe that this is the best way to adequately design shot peening. Last but not least, knowledge helps us to face the path of continuous quality improvement.
(?) MFN: You introduced the topic of quality, how do you deal with it in the company?
(!) M. B.: Our main market sectors are Formula 1, Aerospace, Energy, and more recently, Biomedicine and Automotive Engineering, all areas in which the aspects of quality and certifications are of utmost importance. Our journey started many years ago with the aerospace certification EN 9100:2009. We recently acquired the Nadcap and now we are to get the ISO TS 16949. Every time we face a new quality certification process, we try to focus our major attention on the most important points, and these are much clearer if you have a good knowledge of technological processes. Recently, a metallurgist of Ferrari F1 told me that shot peening has something magical: "you fire shots on a component and it becomes more resistant". For over 20 years, we have been trying to combine "magic" with knowledge in order to get the best results.
MFN would like to thank Remo Norelli and Michele Bandini for the interview!