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Tyre changing machines: 2/3 of them in the world come from the Italian district of Correggio
Introduced in Italy in 1962, ‘Artiglio’ was the first tyre changing machine in the world, and it was invented by the Corghi brothers, founders of the eponymous company based in Correggio, in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, where a ‘mini district’ for tyre services has since developed. In the years when the car became a mass product in Italy and in other parts of the world, the Corghi brothers managed to build on their local mechanic tradition – which has given birth, among other things, to an automotive giant such as Ferrari – and respond to a growing demand. Before 1962 there was no comparable product: tyres were changed until then using a complicated system of levers.
45 five-years later from the original intuition of the Corghi’s brothers, over 2/3 of tyre changers in the world are produced in Correggio. According to the latest estimates, there are around 10 firms active in the district, producing about 70,000 units a year with a global turnover around 300 million euros. The percentage of exports is very high indeed, as on average over 70% of earnings are derived from sales abroad. Firms in this niche market have a natural tendency to internationalise, starting from Corghi , the leading industry which in 2006 derived only 1/5 of its 100 million euros turnover from Italian sales.
Yet until the mid-Seventies Corghi was only exporting in three other markets: Switzerland, Spain and Denmark. Since then, the company embarked on a relentless internationalisation drive that expanded its presence to over 120 markets all over the world: now exports account for 80% of its turnover. The next challenges in terms of foreign markets penetration are called China and Russia. It not a coincidence that the firm decided to open its third direct subsidiary in Shanghai, China, adding to those already present in Germany and North America: it is a demonstration of its determination to break the Chinese and other South-East Asian markets.
The Correggio district boasts more than one champion of ‘Made in Italy’ tyre services, but Corghi is the undisputed industry leader – with 500 employees in three different production sites. It offers a full range of wheel servicing products endorsed worldwide by the largest automotive groups (Fiat group, Daimler, Opel/GM, Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Toyota and VW group). With the “Ferrari Workshop Equipment” line, Corghi is the exclusive supplier of equipment to Ferrari workshops - including the Formula 1 Team – for its entire range of products.
Giuliano’s tyre changers are also well known internationally for being solid, dependable and long-lasting, and are certified to be 100% ‘Made in Italy’. “We can claim – they explain – that all of our components, if not produced in house, are sourced from Italian suppliers”. The firm registered a 22 million euros turnover in 2006, exports around 70% of its production, and employs just under 100 persons. “The R&D department has had the biggest increases in investment and personnel in the last few years”, claim Giuliano’s directors, indicating that they now employ “15 people who are technical surveyors, electronics engineers, IT experts and mechanics”. Thanks to these efforts and to its thirty-odd years of experience, Giuliano has been a leading innovator in the industry, attracting great interest from the tyre manufacturing companies. “This factor is certainly the distinguishing feature between our products and the Chinese competition, which often can supply good copies of the original but without the support of the technical know-how that allows the evolution of an effective and long-lasting product”, add the people from Giuliano.
Butler is another leading company from the Correggio district that since the beginning had a strong innovative profile. Launched 20 years ago, it showed the way right from its product, the “Airdraulic”. This tyre changing machine introduces many innovative features: for example it had a compressed air engine which eliminated the risks associated with inflammable gas o liquid powered engines and it had better ergonomics for the operator. “Another of our strong points – claims the firm – are our plastics tools for wheel changing which facilitate the most complicated wheel/tyre operations”. Butler’s range of products have always been able to cater for the most specialised tyres, including those fitted to high performance cars. Among other things, Butler has patented a tyre changing machine with an integrated nitrogen pump.