Il Sentiero International Campus is the industrial research centre created from a spin-off of Ecor International S.p.A.
Born at the end of 2017, it is about to cut its first 5 years of life during which Il Sentiero has grown, structured itself, increased skills, resources, projects, and turnover: in a word, it has evolved. Until gaining important recognition from customers who, recognising its reputation and high reliability, have formed lasting partnerships even beyond national borders.
From design for production, to service for customers
The path that led it to gain its own identity is a long one and began within Ecor International, a company with more than 45 years of experience in welding and the design and manufacture of complex critical parts in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food and aerospace industries.
It is all down to the foresight of its founder, Sergio Lucietto, who has always had a flair for design. So, in 2006, he decided to hire engineers dedicated to designing and the company switched from designing for production to designing for customer companies.
This is the first step on a path that leads the design area to grow, starting from mechanical design to prototyping, passing through automation to the construction and prototyping of complete machines.
Hence the need to assess and validate the performance of the system or component designed, i.e. to analyse its reliability: in 2010, the construction and prototyping of test benches began with the entry into the company of reliability engineers.
In 2013, highly specialised figures in metallurgy and surface engineering were brought in, while in 2016, thanks to important partnerships with organisations and entities already competent in the sector, Ecor acquired skills and machinery in the field of additive manufacturing.
In 2017 the units dedicated to research and development are more than thirty, the number of projects increased and the spin-off from Ecor is a natural step: thus born Il Sentiero International Campus, the multidisciplinary industrial research centre, part of Ecor International Group.
Over the years, Il Sentiero’s numbers have continued to grow, with double-digit percentages both for skilled personnel, with growth close to 10%, and for turnover, which in 2022 is expected to grow by more than 22% compared to the previous year, while, with reference to the pre-pandemic period, the increase is even 40% higher.
As the research centre becomes better known, its reputation improves and the number of client companies increases, including multinationals from important sectors such as food, pharmaceuticals, industrial automation, and petrochemicals.
Over time, collaborations with the most important Italian universities also develop, thanks to which the world of work and the world of education come into contact, and there are already several active degree theses, research grants and doctorates.
Today, Il Sentiero is the ideal environment to take your first steps into the new world of work, but also to apply the concepts studied, put your knowledge into practice and deepen it by following research projects in various fields, such as reliability engineering, surface engineering, additive manufacturing, design, simulation and prototyping, and joining technology.
The origins cannot be forgotten and, as Nicola Pozzan, Ecor International’s Technical Director, explains, “if today the research centre has an excellent reputation and is recognised as a reliable partner, it owes this to its multidisciplinary, the robust technical skills derived also from Ecor International and further developments, and the variability of services to support clients in that Ecor’s markets may be interested in Il Sentiero’s research and development activities and, vice versa, Il Sentiero’s markets may benefit from Ecor’s production specialisation”.
“From the dissemination of competencies comes a synergy that starts from research, development and design and leads to production, to give the customer a complete, safe and fully monitorable and customisable service, according to the partner’s needs and requirements,” Pozzan continues.
Il Sentiero’s growth is also due to the increasing number of collaborations with international research centres and companies that choose Il Sentiero as a tester for their products/software and procedures. This represents a not inconsiderable competitive advantage for Il Sentiero, which can learn about and evaluate the latest technological solutions in advance of its competitors.
In addition, says Pozzan, “Il Sentiero, thanks to its own laboratories and qualified personnel, has the advantage over other companies that carry out research activities, of having specific know-how on materials, treatments and coatings, their choice, and the possibility of following first-hand investigations and laboratory tests, both in the experimentation and prototype phases. This is fundamental in the fine-tuning of process parameters, particularly when studying innovative materials, without having to turn to external structures for these analyses to support developments”.
Il Sentiero International Campus is now looking with interest at digital, an area with great potential for growth and in which it has been developing activities, skills, and collaborations for some years now. A.I., Machine Learning, IoT, Condition Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance are branches of artificial intelligence that are spreading and developing rapidly.
“Our priority is the satisfaction of our customers and their needs” says Pozzan. “To be able to develop these skills for us means both deepening our knowledge but also being able to offer an additional service to Il Sentiero’s customers but also to Ecor International’s ones, taking advantage of the interdisciplinary nature that characterises the Group”.
But the future cannot fail to look to the environment and its preservation: in fact, “Il Sentiero International Campus is participating in important projects with a strong impact on the environment, such as the EcoDPI project on the re-use and disposal of personal protective equipment; Demetra, which reduces cycle times and/or water consumption by 30%, and participation in others by Ecor International, such as the PWD filter, which makes it possible to reduce energy consumption by between 50% and 75%, solvents by more than 50%, and industrial gases (e.g. nitrogen) by more than 95% (and in some cases 100%), with the same productivity” Pozzan continues.
The role of research
The Ministry of Economic Development’s interventions dedicated to research are aimed at enhancing the skills present in our country and meeting technological and environmental challenges. The aim is to increase investment in research and development also through better interaction between the business world and public bodies.
“Research is essential for the country’s development, because it is from research that innovation and improvement come, which in turn improve people’s health and safety conditions” concludes Nicola Pozzan.