With an annual turnover of around one billion euros, the Bonfiglioli company is one of the largest manufacturers of drive technology. It was founded in 1956 by Clementino Bonfiglioli and has remained a family business to this day. Rooted in the northern Italian region around Bologna, Bonfiglioli’s focus is on the manufacture of gearboxes. The design is mainly focused on industrial applications, and later on mobile applications such as construction vehicles.
As the pronunciation of the name is not always easy for customers, internally we like to speak affectionately abbreviated as “Bonfi”.
In the early years, the company expands its market share in Italy, already relying on a large dealer network. In the 1970s, the management increasingly looked beyond Italy’s borders, including into neighboring Austria. Around 1974/1975, Bonfiglioli contacted Gerald Moll, then owner and managing director of MOLL-MOTOR, to initiate a partnership. Gerald Moll immediately recognized the potential and accepted the invitation. Since then we have been close partners – through ups and downs.
Why do MOLL-MOTOR and Bonfiglioli complement each other so well?
MOLL-MOTOR’s market position in electric motors has been very strong since the 1970s. In order to be able to supply the entire mechatronic drive technology from a single source, MOLL-MOTOR now has to improve its selection of gearboxes. At this time, this business field is dominated by German manufacturers who already have subsidiaries or sales partners in Austria and cannot offer us good conditions. Now a breath of fresh air is coming into the market with Bonfiglioli gearboxes. VF worm gearboxes are making a particular triumphant advance; this low-cost gearbox type is extremely popular in the materials handling industry. As a result, MOLL-MOTOR opened up new industries in which we are still the leader today.
A particular technical advantage of Bonfiglioli gear units is their modularity. As early as the 1970s, all of these gearboxes were available with IEC-standardized flanges, allowing them to be combined with a wide variety of standard motors. A large stock of exactly such motors is – then as now – one of MOLL-MOTOR’s greatest strengths. Many other manufacturers now also have IEC mounting in their product range, but still mainly rely on proprietary mounting dimensions in order to tie customers to their brand. Especially in times of delivery problems, the disadvantages of such a philosophy become obvious.
In the 2000s, modularity is taken to a new level and a local assembly concept is established with selected partners. This concept is called “BEST”, as an acronym for “Bonfiglioli Excellence Service Team”. MOLL-MOTOR is a “BEST” partner from the very beginning. In order to be part of it, we significantly stock up our gearbox warehouse and have thousands of pre-assembled gearboxes and gears ready for assembly. From then on, final assembly is fast, local and uncomplicated with a wide range of gear ratios. Since then, we have continued to invest in machinery and stock to expand assembly capacity. In return, MOLL-MOTOR is the exclusive Bonfiglioli distributor for Austria. Many of our employees complete training courses at Bonfiglioli locations over the years.
Precision drives under the Bonfiglioli umbrella
Also in the early 2000s, Bonfiglioli takes the decision to expand its business field to include particularly precise elements of drive technology. To this end, two existing companies are bought up and integrated into the group.
First, the German company Vectron, already a specialist in frequency converters, was brought into the Group. These inverters are used to control the rotational speed of motors, and precise position data can also be included in the control system using signals from encoders. Bonfiglioli is also developing a series of AC permanent magnet synchronous motors together with its new colleagues in Krefeld, Germany. These servomotors allow the speed to be varied particularly quickly. They also deliver particularly high speeds and a high stall torque and are very compact.
As a Bonfiglioli partner, MOLL-MOTOR was given the opportunity to cooperate with Vectron immediately after the merger and has since used this opportunity for many interesting projects in which employees from Stockerau and Krefeld work together closely and successfully.
Bonfiglioli also integrates at this time the company Technoingranaggi, a specialist for low backlash planetary gearboxes. In gears, the word “backlash” means that when the direction of load is changed, gears move freely a small distance before contacting the adjacent gear again and setting it in motion. The smaller this backlash, the more precisely a tool or machine can be moved to exactly the desired position. Low backlash planetary gearheads are usually mounted on servo motors. Together, they transmit large torques with compact size, operate at high speeds, and rapid changes in speed and direction of rotation are possible.
So at MOLL-MOTOR you get a wide range of Bonfiglioli mechatronic drive technology. We are also happy to offer certain special solutions with this manufacturer, because the elaboration with proven contacts always promises success.