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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
“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”.
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.
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.
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”.
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