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Legnoform SPA Combines Family Dedication With Corali Pallet Assembly Systems
Legnoform SPA, a leading Italian pallet manufacturer, generously hosted a North American tour group, and its plant provided insights into the European pallet industry.

By Dr. Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 7/1/2000

SAN BONIFACIO, Italy ó In the spring of 1999, a group of close to 40 pallet people from the U.S., Canada and New Zealand enjoyed a European tour that included visits to a half dozen of the leading pallet manufacturing companies in Italy, Austria, and Germany. Legnoform SPA in northeast Italy, one of the leading Italian Pallet manufacturers, was a generous host to our tour group. The plant provided several insights into the nature of Europeís block pallet oriented market place.

The new Legnoform manufacturing building was particularly impressive. Very few North American pallet companies have this kind of investment in such a high quality building, where the Sambugaro family held a reception for the tour group.

Legnoform produces about 1.5 million of the estimated 30 million pallets produced every year in Italy. Dario Sambugaro started the company in 1979. He began working at 14 years of age during the 1940s, emigrating to France where he worked digging beets. Dario returned to Italy where he worked as a traveling salesmen of fruit and vegetables. He later became a truck driver and eventually started his own trucking business before launching Legnoform.

The Sambugaro family is dedicated to its business in much the same manner as many of our readers are to theirs. Rita Garbin (Darioís wife) and four children, Mafalda, Emanuele, Orfea and Michela all work in the business. Mafalda, 44, oversees production; Orfea, 35, works in the companyís administrative offices; and Michela, 30, handles sales and customer relations.

Pallet manufacturing in the leading European plants is highly productive, particularly for block pallets. In North America block pallets are often considered to be labor intensive, but in Europe many companies have highly automated lines. Legnoform manufactures about 5,000 pallets a day with about 15 employees. It makes both multi-trip and one-way pallets. Legnoform manufactures about 15 different types of pallets, but about half of its production is in 800x1200mm Europallets. Europallets are the common pool pallets in Europe, similar in some ways to the 48x40 pool in North America, but different in a number of significant ways. The Europal pool has greater control and is more universally respected. Legnoformís customer base includes such well known companies as Nestle and Coca Cola. Lighter weight 800x1200mm pallet designs and a variety of light and heavy duty 1000x1200mm designs round out most of Legnoformís production.

Legnoform has two automated Corali nailing systems. Corali is a well recognized Italian pallet machinery manufacturer that is represented in North America by L-M Equipment Co. in Portland, Ore. (phone (503) 235-3146).

These Corali lines incorporate the entire block pallet assembly process with total automation. There is little human intervention other than feeding lumber and nails into the correct hoppers and monitoring the production flow. Block cutting is done with automated cutting systems. Lumber is fed from lumber hoppers. Corner cutting, branding, nesting, and stacking are all done with automated Corali machinery.

The company has expanded its warehousing, manufacturing, and covered yard area to about 25,000 sq.mt. (approximately 275,000 sq.ft.) to provide the professional support needed to maintain its market position.

Lumber supplies in Europe differ considerably from most of those in North America. Cut-to-size decking and long length material for blocks comes from a variety of European countries, including Germany, Austria, and Eastern European countries.

Over ten years ago, Dario took steps to guarantee his supply of lumber because he was concerned about the direction of his sources. He purchased timber land in Brazil. Dario said, "In Brazil they donít have the chance to invest. So without our help the local wood mills, nearly all managed by Italian emigrants, would have to close. For this reason we pay them partially in advance. They can then continue their businesses and produce
the wood that we need." In addition to Brazilian lumber, Legnoform has been importing lumber from Uruguay since 1992.

Everybody in the tour group was impressed with both their efficient production and cordial hospitality. Any pallet person who has an opportunity to participate in this kind of tour opportunity will find it to be rewarding in more ways than one might imagine. Thanks to the Sambugaros for being such a cordial host.


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