1879-1910 – Origins: The Gabion’s Invention
On May 3, 1879 Raffaele Maccaferri established “Ditta Maccaferri Raffaele, Officina da Fabbro” in Lavino for the production of wrought iron items.
“Ditta Maccaferri” invented the famous “gabion” when carrying out works along the course of the River Reno at Casalecchio di Reno, in the area of Bologna. This invention paved the way for its transformation from a craft trade to an industrial enterprise, resulting in the expansion of the workshop.
The “sack” gabions were followed by the new box-shaped design, which was used in many large public work projects: along the River Tiber, along the River Arno and in Sicily.
1910-1970: The age of expansion
Start of the diversification process of the original enterprise into several industrial sectors: 18 new companies set up, through incorporations and new acquisitions, such as ICO and Hatù (rubber products), Sapaba (quarries), Sadam (sugar), Samputensili (cutting tools and gearwheel finishing).
After the Second World War, the new Managing Director Gaetano Maccaferri guided the reorganization and re-launch of production. New products were created: the PVC coating of galvanised wire and the Reno mattress. One of the first applications of plastic coated gabions dates back to 1956 for the bank protection of the Bristol Channel in the UK. Officine Maccaferri was the first company in Europe to introduce “heavy duty” galvanising. In 1966 Florence was hit by disastrous floods. Gabions proved to be extremely efficient for reconstruction of the roads and all the water courses.
1970-1980 – Rise of the Global Network
Officine Maccaferri extended activities abroad. Factories were established in Canada, USA and Brazil. Officine Maccaferri faced the challenge in five continents with extremely aggressive market penetration methods and increasingly advanced industrial processes. The consequence was a sharp acceleration in geographical and product diversification. Market approach was changed during these years, with a particularly thorough technical/promotional approach aimed at client satisfaction, the compliance of its manufactured products with international standards and specifications, and the presence of its technicians at the most important sites in every part of the world, which gained the company its well-established professional reputation.
1980-2000 – New Strategy: from Products to Complex Solutions
Towards the mid-1990’s the company started a policy for the development of a network of partnerships and know-how in order to offer its clients a range of solutions bringing together environmental needs, cost-effectiveness, durability and compliance with the regulations. The diversification policy of the Officine Maccaferri Group started at this time, changing from the single product made from double twist wire mesh to the possibility of offering alternative products, thereby starting to talk of overall project solutions. These were the years in which geosynthetic materials entered in a decisive manner into the portfolio of Maccaferri solutions and the reinforcement of concrete with metal fibres acted as a door towards the world of tunnels and industrial flooring.
2000-2011 – Growth of Sectors and Expertise: from Geosynthethics to new advanced solutions
Maccaferri started the production of geosynthetic materials, including the acquisition of the British company Linear Composites, bringing Paralink and Paragrid geogrids into our portfolio. The construction of new factories enabled the production of woven geogrids, geomats, geomeshes and geomembranes in Brazil and the production of Paralink and Paraweb in India. The recent acquisition of the Italian geosynthetic manufacturer, Italdreni in late 2010, further expanded the presence of Maccaferri in the geosynthetic materials sector, particularly within erosion control and drainage.
This geosynthetic knowledge has launched Maccaferri as a leader in the landfill and environmental sector, especially within Italy. Sector diversification continued throughout the late 00’s with a partnership with ELAS Geotechnica, a specialist solution provider to the tunnelling sector and a manufacturer of fibreglass anchors, drainage media and concrete additives. This complemented Maccaferri’s existing tunnelling solutions including the supply of steel fibres for the reinforcement of concrete (sprayed and precast linings) on major infrastructure works such as high-speed trains in Italy, the main metro lines in Barcelona and Madrid in Spain and water tunnels in Canada, USA and New Zealand.
The mid to late ’00s also saw Maccaferri’s increased presence in the Rockfall and Snow mitigation application area. Solutions within this application are protection works against natural hazards including rock falls, debris flows and avalanches on infrastructure slopes and within mining works. Advanced products, developed through R&D and market needs-assessments, are proving to be increasingly interesting to our clients.
The growth of our hydraulic works sector, especially coastal works, has been driven through our involvement in major projects. Most notable was the development of ballasted filter mattresses and of the equipment for its installation underwater to protect sea beds. This was used as part of the works for the MOSE project for protecting Venice from tidal inundation.
2015: New Challenges
Maccaferri is ready to meet new challenges through ongoing sustainable growth, including the acquisition of innovative technologies to be exploited worldwide, working on product differentiation to compete on a “full package” delivery and accessing new geographies.
Wherever clients and their challenges are in the world, Maccaferri always aims to “Engineer a Better Solution”