In the spring of 1998, Antonio Antoniazzi decided to start his own business. He had noticed a serious gap in the market in the tanning industry: while machines were becoming ever more sophisticated, there was a definite lack of support services for those tanneries that were investing in new generation systems. In the space of just 15 years, Antoniazzi grew his company from its humble beginnings to the EQUITAN we know today, an international supplier of tannery equipment and service componentry.
In the late 1990s, vibration staking machines were becoming an accepted tool in the industry, raising productivity along with leather quality, but the need to prolong their working life without deterioration was becoming apparent.
Two critical factors emerged: the endurance of the elastic transport belts which come under a huge amount of strain, as well as the static electricity created during the staking process which causes dust particles to stick to the leather. Recognising a gap in the market, Antoniazzi focused his development work on this problem.
By 1999 he was able to offer a new type of transport belt manufactured in a material containing antistatic fibres which discharge the static electricity generated by the staking action. The belt was patented and registered under the name ‘Condutex.’ When this belt is used on vibration staking machines, no dust adheres to the leather and the machine’s service life is extended.
By late November 2001, buoyed by the success of his new product, Antoniazzi was able to achieve a long-held goal. He established Equitan srl, which was to become the springboard for growth based on continuous development of the Condutex concept, together with other systems for dealing with the dust, an irritating production problem which occurs in tanneries around the world. To begin with, a further five versions of the original Condutex belt were perfected to suit a variety of client needs, chiefly concerning enhanced conductivity, leather quality and the functioning of the staking machines. A new conducting material, containing both carbon fibres and interlaced carbon, marketed as Condubelt, is suitable for use wherever leather is processed between belts. "At the same time, we became interested in conveying systems in leather processing equipment generally," says Antoniazzi. In this field, Equitan has created a comprehensive range of elasticised and hot welded polyurethane transport belts in various widths. Users are given the opportunity to tailor belts to suit their own particular applications with the aid of a hot-welding kit, an accessory also available from Equitan.
Benefitting by this time from an established market presence, the company began to look at further product diversification. A manually operated stamping device for the marking of raw skins, as well as limed hides and wet blue, was developed in 2005, followed by a more powerful unit that was introduced at Tanning Tech 2012. This later version is particularly suitable for use on bovine raw hides in a green or salted state. In the field of instrumentation, Equitan introduced an electronic substance gauge designed to transmit and receive data wirelessly. Returning to the dust elimination problem, a separate dedusting machine was developed, launched and subsequently patented, based on a relatively simple concept which does not require fans or filtration. This machine has an upper adhesive belt that collects dust from the grain side of the leather as it feeds through.
The lower transport belt system uses Condubelt, another carbon fibre type, which is capable of discharging any latent electric charge generated in the leather. The adhesive belt is continuously washed and cleaned. Further research into felt construction then led to a new type of felt for ironing and embossing presses, once again with antistatic properties. We are conducting further studies into the advanced properties of felts, one with regard to use in the finishing process and another for wet stretching. Development of a fresh concept for leather softening machines is also in our plans. In response to our clients’ thoughts on the efficient functioning of vibration staking machinery, Equitan has devised a unique method of measurement. Essentially, this is based on a plastic sheet that retains its new shape and dimensions once it has been deformed after being fed through a staking machine. Knowing the original dimensions, the operator can compare them with the sheet that emerges from the staker to assess the machine’s efficacy and functioning. A patent application to protect the system was applied for and granted without delay.
Equitan’s clientele includes many important tanners around the world, as well as a number of European tannery machinery manufacturers. We are grateful to all of them for providing the stimulus for our continuing investment in research and innovation. And with our commitment to Quality and Customer Service, we at Equitan are convinced that our efforts will continue to be rewarded.