Nolan crash helmets are Italian through and through, in both design and production; since the 1970s the company has produced over 30 million helmets in the historic Brembate di Sopra factory in the province of Bergamo. Also working away tirelessly are the Mattei compressors; because when quality is called for, Mattei responds.
“It’s an impressive amount of compressed air that is required to run a plant like ours, that manages all the different production phases of a helmet. Here the plastic arrives as granules which leave as helmets to be worn by the great MotoGP and Superbike riders such as Casey Stoner” explains Alberto Corna, Technology Manager, Nolangroup Spa.
NolanGroup has its headquarters in Brembate di Sopra, where in 1972 it all began thanks to the intuition of Lander Nocchi to utilise Lexan™, an innovative plastic material that NASA had just made available for commercial uses. His intuition turned out to be spot on and today the Group is a 40 million Euro business, with 370 employees and a site extending over an area of 30,000 square metres, where 400,000 helmets are produced every year.
All the production happens at the site in the Bergamo province. “We are a company that goes against the trends. In Italy we have the full production cycle of Nolan and Grex polycarbonate helmets, the X-lite composite materials brand, and then N-Com; customised communication systems between helmets”. Corna continues: “This choice responds, amongst others, to the need to enhance Made in Italy as a symbol of quality and reliability. Our helmets are actually guaranteed for 5 years from the date of purchase, for any defect in the material or the production”.
The Italian trend continues with the compressor technology that supplies all the pneumatic devices of the NolanGroup helmet production process. “The Mattei compressors were a perfect match for NolanGroup”, underlines Corna. “They take care of everything here from design to homologation as compressed air is needed for an infinite number of applications. The most costly, in terms of our demands for air, is the removal of the mold from the molding machine after the molding of the polystyrene. To avoid damaging such a delicate material we only use the force of compressed air to carry out this operation. The polycarbonate injection moulding stage is also very intense with working cycles 24 hours a day, six days a week. Mattei compressors also supply all of the other parts of the plant: from the workmen’s sanding machines to their paint guns, from the tools used to apply the graphics onto the shells to assembly screwdrivers, and in general for any other manufacturing need. Compressed air is even used during homologation to perform the drop tests that ensure the absolute quality and safety of our product”.
For service assistance, NolanGroup relies on the company, Compressori Bergamo, who provide full service, sales and installation support principally on behalf of Mattei. “NolanGroup’s fleet includes three Optima compressors and two from the Classic range” says Giorgio Perhat, joint-owner of the company, along with Riccardo Maggioni and Stefano Mapelli. “We’ve been looking after NolanGroup for almost 30 years and delivered the latest Optima 110 in May 2015. It is a variable speed machine that, owing to its characteristics, is perfectly adapted for the production needs of NolanGroup. Optima 110 comes into play when the production is at full capacity to ensure the correct operation of the factory. The inverter automatically adjusts the rotational speed according to the load profile, ensuring that the air delivered by the system corresponds to the actual demands”. “NolanGroup has entered into a scheduled maintenance contract with us. The reliability of rotary vane technology gives the compressor an unlimited lifespan: we conduct regular servicing and only use original Mattei spare parts, which undergo stringent quality tests to maintain the high quality of the machines and their components over time” continues Perhat.
“I’ve been at NolanGroup since 1995 where I’ve seen the Mattei machines at work and I can confirm their reliability and efficiency. The compressors can easily withstand very intensive work cycles, avoiding production downtime that would be detrimental to an establishment like ours. The five machines, calibrated with different pressure switches, are always in operation, even at night with a reduced load to keep the valves under pressure. For the latest arrival, the Optima 110, I really appreciate the inverter functionality; this is an important feature which no industrial machine should be without, given the tangible benefits in terms of cost and energy savings” concludes Corna.
* LEXAN is a registered trademark of SABIC