TRENDS

The market is now

Anticipating what is coming, taking advantage of opportunities, investing in research and knowing how to listen to clients (i.e. the manufacturers of agricultural machinery) and end users. This is the winning recipe of the ADR Group which, in 2014, celebrates 60 years of being in business, marked by internationalisation and the best Made in Italy brand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Roberto Airoldi, Sales Director, Flavio Radrizzani, Chairman of the Group, Sergio Frigerio, Head of Research and Development.

The evolution of agricultural mechanisation, which has produced a progressive increase in the mass and performance of vehicles, with speeds approaching 40 km/h and in some more advanced markets, has revealed safety issues typical of road vehicles, heightened by the need to incorporate certain features typical for use in the countryside such as low-pressure tyres and awareness of operating in a complex environment capable of placing the entire undercarriage in jeopardy. If we add a profoundly diverse global reality to these aspects, depending on the latitude, the market in which ADR Group operates is revealed which, with roots firmly planted in the main office in Uboldo, in Italy, offers an illuminating example of intelligent internationalisation and, most importantly, is always ready to seize new opportunities.

60 years of business worldwide

The small traditional business founded in 1954 has come a long way. Yet, sixty years later, certain special qualities persist with tenacity. The Radrizzani family is at the helm of the company, now as then. Flavio, Chairman of the Group, leads the companies with the enthusiasm and passion of someone who has developed an important company even able to compete in markets where Italy has not fully established itself. Similarly, when talking with employees of ADR, a sense of real attachment to the company is felt, a willingness, almost traditional, to offer one’s personal contribution to further improve and grow, with the strength of one’s ideas, new and more important markets. After the initial experiences with axles and drive shafts in the sixties, often focused on the sector of construction cranes, ADR found its true path in the world of agriculture, which had its first major success in 1989 with the acquisition of the French Colaert Essieux. This was followed by other acquisitions and joint ventures in Poland, England, China, Brazil up to the most recent, in 2012 and 2013, in Spain and again in France, with the inclusion of SAE-SMB in the group. A strong international dimension that has not affected the link with the local area, and in particular with the municipality of Uboldo, which translates into effective support activities dedicated to sports and volunteering. “Today the house of ADR is the world – says Flavio Radrizzani – and almost all of the production done ​​in Italy is directed abroad. Moreover, the agricultural machinery market in Italy is quite limited if we compare it to the French or German market, or with what is developing in Eastern Europe. The production, however, has always clearly been branded Made ​​in Italy. Our target market is Germany, this is where we gained experience. Going to Germany and bringing home a large chunk of the market, if not the majority of the market, from a German manufacturer in business 100 years before us, is certainly a source of pride”. A feeling that is justified, since today the ADR group is composed of over 1,200 people divided into 12 companies that are able to cover all international markets. A heterogeneous and complex group but, as pointed out by Radrizzani, “under the supervision of the head office in Uboldo. No one from our companies moves in a  disjointed manner. Each company has its own autonomy and offers its own specific contribution, but everything is under the central control of the Italian office”.

A market without borders

The policy of acquisitions and joint ventures has particularly developed in recent years. “With this in mind – intervenes Roberto Airoldi, Sales Director of the group – the recent joint venture signed with a South African partner is interesting, in order to follow not only this country but the entire sub-equatorial area of the continent, with the Republic of Pretoria being considered as a natural economic opportunity. In 2012 we acquired a Spanish company with a long tradition that is dedicated to the sale of our products, while last year the French SAE-SMB was acquired, a big name in Europe and outside the continent for axles and suspensions in the industrial sector. Clearly, through the synergy of the group and the know-how of SAE-SMB, we aim at an expansion in this sector, which is larger than agriculture, where we are faced with demands and different products”. A widening of horizons however originates from a socket application that sees the agricultural sector constituting the majority, about 75-80%, of the Group’s production. “The goal for the next three years – says Airoldi – is to increase our presence in markets outside Europe, particularly in the U.S., where we already have a number of high-end products. The world of agriculture is very different from area to area and in America agricultural machines are used almost without any regulations: technically they should not be used on the road, but only around the farm. But even there, whether for safety reasons that are becoming increasingly important or for the increasingly large size of the machines, it is becoming necessary to change the system of construction, mounting suspensions and brakes that make the vehicle safe”.

ADR_On-test

The range

Broad and well-structured

ADR provides a range that is easy to define as full line. “In terms of range – continues the Sales Director – I don’t think there is another manufacturer able to offer our product range in the agricultural sector . We start from small  500 kg applications and go on to cover the American and Russian markets where equipment for 50-60 tonnes of load is required. With all types of brakes, rigid and steering axles, mechanical, hydraulic or pneumatic suspensions”. The Department of Research and Development of the ADR Group has concentrated its efforts in particular on the definition of families of suspensions whose design is targeted at the operational and environmental needs of different fields of application. In this context, active hydraulic suspensions stand out, that ADR engineers have identified as being the most efficient and versatile. “Their characteristic of operating with two fluids, one liquid and one gas – says the engineer, Sergio Frigerio, Head of Research and Development – makes them easily adaptable to the needs of configuration, stability and driving safety. The hydraulics act on the configuration, while the pneumatics act on the elasticity of the suspension, mediating between comfort and stiffness to optimise the behaviour of the vehicle when driven on the road and in the countryside, ensuring maximum safety even for emergency maneuvers”. In this segment, HydrOK, with rigid or steering axle, is suitable for transport vehicles characterised by fast transfers on paved trails and natural terrain and ensures effective road holding for vehicles with a high centre of gravity and tank cars; it features remarkable torsional rigidity and traditional construction, with parabolic arms and modular anchoring which make it adaptable to all the axes of the ADR range. For machines that operate on very rough terrain there is HydroEvo, a hydraulic suspension with independent arms that ensures good holding under all operating conditions. The longitudinal suspension arms allow for elevation differences to be overcome without appreciable swaying of the vehicle. Furthermore, the arrangement of cylinders under the chassis of the vehicle makes for suspension that is very compact and particularly narrow, enabling the use of large low pressure tires without penalising the width of the vehicle frame which is consequently more stable and safe. HydroEvo can be implemented with a hydraulic stabilisation system featuring electronic control that reduces rolling, improving the stability of vehicles with a high centre of gravity, tanks and machines for animal husbandry. For construction, forestry and agricultural equipment, operating in extreme environments, there is the STT model, a multi-link that provides road holding and stability of the trailer in all operating conditions, allowing for the use of the dumper even on uneven ground. All with a comfortable ride that is unthinkable with traditional suspension. In line with a production flexibility aimed at serving multiple and diverse markets, the ADR Group continues to dedicate its resources to the development of the spring suspensions. In this sector, the most significant example is the KW modular suspension, appreciated by manufacturers of platforms for the transportation of crawler machines or hay bales, especially when the platform needs to be under a metre in height and the mechanics under the frame has very limited space available. It is in fact a family of suspensions of very low profile which use compact parabolic spring, made ​​of high quality steel to ensure great flexibility and high capacity.

by Cristiano Pinotti

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