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New compound helps belt maker expand into food market

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Photo by RPN photo by Mike McNulty David Pickrell (left) and Gene Torres of Chiorino's U.S. operation anticipate more growth for the company, which is headquartered in Italy. The firm believes it offers a strong fabrication, distribution and sales arm in the U.S., thanks in part to a unique urethane compound used for belting in the food industry.

Chiorino S.p.A. has made solid, steady progress in the North American market since it set up shop in the U.S. more than 30 years ago, particularly in the conveyor, process and flat transmission belt sectors.

Most recently, Chiorino Inc., the Biella, Italy-headquartered manufacturer's U.S. subsidiary, launched a line of belts made from a unique urethane compound that Gene Torres, director of sales and marketing for the subsidiary, believes sets the company apart from other lightweight belt producers.

The urethane compound was developed by the firm's coated fabrics division in Italy for the inflatable boat industry when stricter requirements were implemented in Europe on boat materials.

"The new compound was so good we brought it over to the belting end of our business because it's resistant to oils and other contaminants," according to David Pickrell, vice president and general manager of the U.S. subsidiary, based in Newark, Del.

From it the company developed a non-toxic, high-performance belt for the food sector.

"We now have 24 product types in the high-performance range, and all are HACCP and REACH compliant," he said.

"It's a special belt," according to Torres. "For instance, when bakeries use boxes, they want to make sure there's no contamination. And there won't be with our belt, we assure them."

Chiorino's high-performance belt is used to convey breads, cookies, cheese and just about any other food, and it's easy to clean, the two officials said at the NIBA—The Belting Association conference, held Sept 12-15 in San Antonio.

It is resistant to most aggressive fats and oils, has high flexibility, and is resistant to cuts and abrasion, Pickrell said. It offers increased resistance to high temperatures compared to traditional polyurethane belting and maintains its characteristics even at the lowest temperatures, he said.

"This is a new industry for us ... but the HP belt is slowly but surely taking off," Pickrell said. "And there are a several other industries that can use them, including metal, wood, oil recovery and a number of others."

Chiorino, which has been in business since 1906, manufactures all rolls for belting at its plant in Italy, where it also handles development of new products and technologies. Its 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Newark and 8,000-sq.-ft. plant in Scott, La., fabricate belts used in the U.S. market. The factories supply the belts to manufacturers and distributors.

The parent company has 15 other subsidiaries stretched around the globe that also fabricate and distribute products.

The U.S. arm of the company primarily handles rubber, urethane and PVC belts used in several industries, including box folding and paper handling.