Burners

Lean factory, Italian production

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Tubular burners.
Tubular burners.

Its mission consists in producing high-quality burners for innovative cooking appliances and in selling them to customers spread worldwide. And it is proud of completely designing and manufacturing them in Italy, succeeding in maintaining a high competitiveness thanks to a successful concept of “lean factory”. Here is how the Brianza company Actek operates and what are its products.

Moreno Soppelsa

Two million burners yearly with lines that can churn out a piece every second. This is, in short the “powerfire” of Actek, Brianza company situated to the North of Milan, established and totally owned by the Amati family that can boast, by full right, to have organized the industrial activity in such a way as to be able to go on developing, designing and producing its burners fully in Italy, while keeping quality, flexibility and competitiveness unchanged. A functional industrial balance that has been obtained with the lean factory concept, maintaining inside the factory at Cassago Brianza all the design activities of products, dies and tooling and only some main production lines, entrusting the remaining part of the production to companies headquartered in the area, selected among the most reliable ones and able to operate in compliance with the severe Actek qualitative standards. A production that, under the AC.Tek brand, includes tubular and sheet metal burners for the household sector, a wide range of burners for the professional ambit (oven, hob, fryers, frytops and barbecues) and the necessary accessories for their operation: spark plugs, thermocouples, injector holders and pilot burners.

From the left: Carlo Amati, founder of the homonymous design company from which Beta Code and Actek were born; Enrico Amati, engineer (it is Carlo’s son and he takes care specifically of design trough Beta Code studio); Paolo Amati, Carlo’s son, is the managing director of Actek.
From the left: Carlo Amati, founder of the homonymous design company from which Beta Code and Actek were born; Enrico Amati, engineer (he is Carlo’s son and he takes care specifically of design through Beta Code studio); Paolo Amati, Carlo’s son, is the managing director of Actek.

The history
The origins of Actek date back to the Fifties, when in 1951 Carlo Amati started working by Fratelli Onofri, historical producer of cooking appliances that in its greatest moment of glory employed over 2000 people and produced millions of gas cookers per year. Carlo Amati joined it as line worker when the company counted few dozen employees, but thanks to his inventiveness and his design skills, in the lapse of about ten years, he was appointed cooking design manager of Fratelli Onofri.

The cooker Fratelli Onofri model 29, the first product designed by Carlo Amati in July 1961.
The cooker Fratelli Onofri model 29, the first product designed by Carlo Amati in July 1961.

In the Fifties the majority of cookers were based on electricity, and it was also to the credit of Carlo Amati if later on, astride the Fifties and the Sixties, gas cookers started spreading. In 1966 Carlo Amati designed for Fratelli Onofri the first stamped sheet metal burner, NF France certified. Years of patents and innovations follow, until when in 1986 he established with other shareholders Tibe, design company for tubular, flat sheet metal and flat burner. In those years Carlo Amati patents, besides the others, the first die-cast burner with aluminium teeth and develops an automated production plant for thermocouples. The successive steps are those leading to the present business organization, with the setup in 1996 of A.C. Engineering, design company by Carlo Amati and the birth in 2001 of the AC.Tek brand simultaneously with the start up of the first production plant of tubular burners. In the successive years the line of tubular burners and the sheet metal burner model 505 are devised (we will see it more in detail later on). In 2008, on the occasion of the transfer to the current headquarters to Cassago Brianza, it is realized a spin-off between the productive and the design activity. Actek was setup as Ltd (before it was a brand of the design company), managed by Paolo Amati (Carlo’s son), while Enrico Amati, the second son, focuses on A.C. Engineering that is part of Beta Code Group. It seems complex, but the reality is that Carlo, Paolo and Enrico simply form a united family that carries out the corporate mission: designing and implementing burners (and also other products naturally, considering that Beta Code works also for other companies).

Actek laboratory, equipped according to EN30, EN203 and EN60335 regulations, can test and approve customers’ products.
Actek laboratory, equipped according to EN30, EN203 and EN60335 regulations, can test and approve customers’ products.

Organization
Today Actek reaches a turnover of 1.5 million Euros (Beta Code relies on a turnover that approximately amounts to 2.5 million Euros), with a constant growth on all fronts: the productive capacity tripled from 2009 to 2013 and the produced volumes highlighted the average 20% yearly growth in the same period. All that with only nine direct employees. The “secrets” of this trend in crisis times? The constant investment in new technological processes to enhance the productivity and to control costs without affecting quality, the continuous introduction of new products, fruit of the innovation capability of the Brianza company, the appreciated support given to its customers, deriving from the engineering branch and the adoption of a “lean factory” logic together with the in-house process verticalization when indispensable. “We have few employees and we manufacture big volumes because we have decided to outsource part of the forming activity” explains Enrico Amati.

The new robot in test phase.
The new robot in test phase.

“We could not have kept pace with our very fast growth just relying on internal processes, therefore we have preferred maintaining inside the control of all that concerns the design of products, machines, dies and processes ». In other words, the thinking head of the company steadily remains at Cassago Brianza, while Actek turns to local subcontractors for “manpower”. «We continue, however, to in-house produce the tubular burner – specifies Paolo Amati – which represents 50% of our current production. The other external production lines, like stamped burners’, allow us to conform to our exponential growth”. When we went to visit them, to write these lines and to take the pictures published in these pages, a new robot to further enhance the factory’s automation was in installation phase. This innovation will allow reaching 80% of the finished product with a single operator. On the whole, in internal and external lines, are produced 3600 pieces per hour. Every year over 500,000 tubular burners are produced and as many stamped burners. “It is this high automation level – explains Paolo Amati – that allows us to produce in Italy and to remain competitive, a fact that makes us very proud”.

A design phase of the stamped sheet metal burner for oven of the 505 series.
A design phase of the stamped sheet metal burner for oven of the 505 series.

Household products
In the ambit of household devices we find the 505 series of stamped sheet metal burners for oven, developed according to a “green” vision to offer the highest efficiency and great power scalability (from 2.0 to 5.2 kW). They are available both in aluminized sheet metal and in Aisi 304 stainless steel for extreme applications.

The 505 model of domestic stamped oven burner, available in two sizes.
The 505 model of domestic stamped oven burner, available in two sizes.

To suit both built-in ovens and free-standing cookers, they are available in two sizes: the model with 420 millimetre length and the new 360 mm model (production just started). From this product directly derives the sheet metal grill burner, it too with scalable powers and available both in aluminized sheet metal and Aisi 304 stainless steel. Passing to tubular burners, the oven line stands out for its great product flexibility (lengths, powers and heat distribution are customizable) and production versatility, with the possibility of implementing batches from one hundred to ten thousand pieces. The offer includes also tubular linear grill burners, available with aluminized steel and stainless steel diffuser and with grid for infrared cooking, and the burners of the Maxi range for grill and oven.

Ready for shipment. Actek has almost zeroed both the raw material magazine and that of the outgoing finished products.
Ready for shipment. Actek has almost zeroed both the raw material magazine and that of the outgoing finished products.
In the ambit of professional products, here is, on the top, a hob burner and, at the bottom, a fryer burner.
In the ambit of professional products, here is, on the top, a hob burner and, at the bottom, a fryer burner.

Professional products
Finally concerning the professional range, which in volume represents a small part of Actek production but an excellent exercise of product innovation, it is worth mentioning the powerful and durable hob burners with mono-stamped brass head with various finishes (natural, nickel-plated and black) and the burner for fryers that is a unique product in the world panorama of big plants, developed through the most updated technologies and optimized through CFD (Computational fluid dynamics). “We are anyway able – ends Enrico Amati – to implement burners with whatever shape and size upon customer’s design, in co-design or starting from our design experience and from the deep knowledge of the market and of the international regulations of the cooking segment, with an intervention ambit that spaces from the burners for pizzeria oven to those for kebabs, from burners for coffee machines to those for making milk, from products to cook whole roasted pigs to salamander burners”.

CFD analysis of a hob burner, equipped with air-gas pre-mixing and complete combustion (colours indicate temperatures).
CFD analysis of a hob burner, equipped with air-gas pre-mixing and complete combustion (colours indicate temperatures).

DESIGN INNOVATION IS CALLED BETA CODE
Beta Code is a Group born from the merger of three companies operating for years in activities of design and development of industrial products: A.C. Engineering, Beta Engineering and Sinadesign. Each company has a long history behind, years of experience and successes in specific fields of industrial design and production, but all three realities share identical professional skills acquired in time. The first, A.C. Engineering, belongs to Amati family. Founded by the father Carlo in 1996, it is now managed by the son Enrico Amati, engineer. The other son, Paolo, runs instead Actek. A perfect pair, which leads the Group to be a partner of buyers, able to design and to manufacture high added value products just thanks to its engineering activity that permits the Brainza structure to solve problems and to create customized solutions in collaboration with its customers. Beta Code has the task of devising, designing and implementing winning products for the various world markets, organizing its technological knowledge in specific divisions, inside of which if offers very detailed knowledge and instruments. The Refrigeration division addresses the refrigerator industry, while the Cooking Division is focused on the design of cookers and ovens. Finally, the Styling and engineering division is oriented to numerous industrial sectors that range from small appliances to electro-medical equipment, from water heaters to household items. Each division takes care of the whole design process, with utmost precision and professionalism, interacting with other divisions, offering a very wide competence range and interpreting even very complex projects with the highest flexibility. The offer by Beta Code is particularly intended for the household appliance industry, from big to small ones, but also to the professional appliance field and numerous other sectors of the industrial production.

 

 

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