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BUSINESS FOCUS OF THE MONTH INTERVIEW 78 YEARS OF MACHINERY COMPONENTS


A family owned business since its formation in 1941, ELESA has grown into a global manufacturer of high quality machine


elements. Nigel Pritchett, managing director


ELESA UK, speaks to Rachael Morling about the company’s history and how it has evolved to meet the growing needs of its target markets


B


ack in 1941, with Europe in the midst of World War Two, a new company called ELESA


was being created in a small workshop in Monza, Italy. As the war ended, the production of new products was ramping up, with handles, knobs, handgrips and handwheels being developed for an ever-growing range of applications. In order to enhance the prestige of the


company, ELESA expanded dramatically in 1960, introducing a ‘normalisation’ of the products for the first time in this field. This initiative created fixed parameters to which all producers and users of elements for manual controls and regulation for machines would later refer to. At the same time, the company produced the first standardised catalogue of machinery components. And, with its debut at a major European exhibition for machine tools, ELESA created the foundation for entry into the international market. Since then, there have been many high points


in the company’s history. These range from international development through the 1980’s with the establishment of a number of branch offices and strategic partnerships around the world; the introduction of more specialised products during the 1990’s in response to new market demands; to the development of the company’s headquarters throughout the 2000’s, culminating in the introduction of a fully automated warehouse facility.


CHANGING MARKET DEMANDS Over the last 78 years, the growing – and increasingly sophisticated – needs of its target markets pushed ELESA not only into extending the range of standard products it offered but resulted in it studying special solutions that would enable it to manufacture products that would be capable of meeting the specific requirements of each customer. The result of this was a new generation of product lines with standard elements manufactured from special materials and advanced technologies. Today, the company manufactures a wide


range of standard elements aimed at all aspects of machinery and equipment build. These range from support elements such as levelling feet and castors; access components like locks, latches, hinges and handles; clamping and fixture parts including knobs, latch and toggle clamps; indexing and spring plungers;


through to operating and control elements, including handwheels, crank handles, positioning devices and indicators. Alongside its expanding


product range, however, quality was always at the top of the agenda for the company. Through the development


of a laboratory where rigorous tests are carried out, ELESA has been able to ensure the products it manufactures are always of the highest quality. Production methods have also remained at the cutting edge thanks to its constant investment program; and, by following raw material developments, new products for new emerging markets have been created.


APPLICATIONS UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT As time passed, the applications inevitably started to change, resulting in ELESA’s products being used in an ever growing range of industries – from packaging, food processing, medical and construction, to engineering and many more. In fact ELESA is present wherever high performance, ergonomics and aesthetics are requirements, and where applications may require special characteristics such as corrosion resistance, electrical insulation, antimicrobial protection, ATEX approval, self-extinguishing and so on. Added to this, over the 78 years technology


has changed dramatically, leading to many new specialist applications outside of what would be considered the more ‘traditional industrial’ sector – including the public environment with sports and leisure, disability aids, urban and public fittings, and entertainment equipment.


RESPONDING TO INDUSTRY CHALLENGES Despite many developments in the industrial marketplace and economy over this time, ELESA has been able to respond well due to its technically competent staff and by being both customer and supplier focused. This has enabled it to understand, at the earliest opportunity, changing customer requirements as well as the availability of new materials and technologies. Thanks to ELESA’s focus on design, aesthetics and ergonomics, its products create the ultimate





operator interface with the equipment onto which they are fitted, both enhancing and adding value. The brand philosophy of quality and performance gives the assurance of reliability and the size of range ensures a single source supply. Today, the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ is


having an effect on the products ELESA manufactures. It is seeing, for example, the need for some of the more traditional mechanical components to be enhanced with radio frequency (WiFi) functionality to interact with machine PLC’s to control settings and safety. Despite this, designers still need to be aware


of how important traditional mechanical components are – they will remain an important feature on many applications where cost will prohibit digital intervention, or the application itself is derived from operator interaction through a delivery point of a mechanical component.


THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE 78 years on and ELESA remains a family owned business – now in its third generation, whilst maintaining the support and knowledge of its nonagenarian chairman who built the business into a world leader in its field, based on a philosophy of total quality. The aim today is to become the recognised


go-to single source for any standard machine elements. Once a new customer uses ELESA products for the first time, they tend to return with additional orders. So, with this loyal customer base, its ability to


adapt to changing market requirements, and with its products always in demand for use in such as wide range of industries, the future looks bright for ELESA.


ELESA www.elesa.com


DESIGN SOLUTIONS | JULY/AUGUST 2019 7


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