In retracing the history of the Alfa Acciai Group, the first document of interest dated 10 November 1954 is the Memorandum of Association of Acciaierie Laminatoi Fonderie Affini srl, [literally, Steel mills, Rolling mills, Foundries and the like] hence the current acronym ALFA, which started works on the construction of the first buildings and plants.
The company identifies the site on which to build the production premises to the south-east of the municipality of Brescia, as the vicinity of the city provides easy connection to the high-voltage grid, which is crucial for the operation of electric-arc furnaces, as well as ready-available workforce. This area, which lies between the subsequently developed residential areas of San Polo and major road infrastructures, becomes ALFA ACCIAI’s headquarters with a surface area of around 354,000 sq.m.
At the end of 1955, the plant is completed and Alfa Acciai starts operations as a steel mill, while the rolling mill was built in 1962.
The years up to the 1970s are characterized by a significant growth in terms of both output and type of products. In a few years, it soon becomes a benchmark in the industry and in the construction and wire rod sectors at a time of rapid social and economic growth.
The installation of continuous casting machines in 1970 and heavy investment in new technology allow the company to step up production capacity in both the steel mill and rolling mill.
The company achieves an optimal size and a competitive edge, gradually building up a sound, steadily growing business.
After this initial phase of growth, the company focuses on optimizing machinery through technological upgrades of electric arc furnaces, the continuous casting machines and the rolling mills.
As early as 1984, the board of directors wisely set up an extensive improvement plan aimed at mitigating the environmental impact of the plant, both through the installation of state-of-the-art flue gas extraction systems and sound-proofing systems for the main production processes.
The mid-eighties are characterized by further heavy investment by the company, aimed at rationalizing its production equipment and updating the supply chain. This involves improving the wire rod mill, the installation of a new rebar finishing plant and the replacement of three existing 40-tonne electric arc furnaces with two new 80-tonne furnaces alongside the ladle furnaces.
The engineering and sales policy increasingly focuses on all types of steel for the construction industry, by complementing the production of wire rod and reinforcing steel in coils with the production of reinforcing steel in bars and setting up the Alfa Acciai “cold-processing” department (now part of Alfa Derivati S.r.l.), which produces welded mesh and recoiled wire.
In the wake of this development-focused policy, Alfa Acciai comes up with the High Ductility (HD) patent covering steel for use in seismic areas.
The takeover of Ferroberica (Vicenza) enables the company to upgrade all its cold processes to meet the requirements of the building industry, including the pre-shaping and assembling of reinforcing steel, sectors in which Ferroberica is now the largest player in Italy and second in Europe.
Eager to exploit major opportunities in southern Italy, Alfa Acciai takes over Acciaierie di Sicilia (Catania), the only steel mill on the island. This major investment led to a considerable improvement in quality, safety and environmental standards, output and exports, which are favoured by the mill’s strategic position in the centre of the Mediterranean.
In order to improve the quality and supply of raw materials, scrap shredding and sorting systems are installed in the Brescia and Catania facilities, and Alfa Acciai sets up a more than a two-decade-long joint venture with the German Thyssen Sonnemberg Recycling, a world leader in the production and sale of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap.
In the years between 1996 and 2000, in agreement with the Brescia Town Council, Alfa Acciai develops the “Alfa 2000” plan to mitigate the environmental impact of the plant on the surroundings. The plan entailed major engineering improvements to reduce flue gases, the construction of a large acoustic barrier, the afforestation of the areas around the perimeter of the plant, the construction of a cycle path, and the transfer of the lorry entrance, which took place in 2007, from Via San Polo to the side facing the southern ring road, which makes the connection with the motorways easier and considerably reduces the inconvenience for residents and city traffic.
In 2004, Alfa Acciai proudly celebrated its first 50 years of operations, with an open day welcoming the families of employees and the local community, including the inauguration of its third rolling mill to add reinforcing steel in spooled coils to its product range, an innovation in terms of mechanical features, dimensions and packaging.
In the following years, the Alfa Acciai Group increases its production capacity to 2.5 million tonnes a year, with a peak in 2008, to become one of Europe’s leading producers of reinforcing steel for the construction industry.
In the new millennium, the long-pursued environmental awareness becomes a vital element in corporate governance. The achievement of Integrated Environmental Permit (IEP) and the setting up of the Alfa Acciai Observatory, as well as the certifications regarding the recycled content, Quality, Environment and Health and Safety management systems, the European voluntary sustainability certification called Suststeel and the environmental product declarations are clear evidence of the Group’s intention to pursue and develop this qualifying and competitive commitment.
As the Alfa Acciai Group celebrates 60 years of activity, it is responding with increasing operational efficiency, by achieving the breakeven point at lower production levels and safeguarding constant improvement in safety and environmental performance as well.
The Alfa Acciai Group further innovates its product range and in 2016 it takes over the Brescia-based Tecnofil, one of the major drawing mills with galvanisers in Europe, and soon rationalizes the wire types (galvanized wire, alu-zinc wire and bright wire), for use in building construction, electrical household appliances, the automotive industry, perimeter safety, fencing and other numerous daily applications, thus enabling the parent company to exploit the full potential of its wire rod rolling plants in terms of quality and competitiveness.
The same year marks the acquisition of the Montirone site, still to the south of Brescia, a former closed-down steel mill that now houses an innovative department of Alfa Derivati, a strategic Ferroberica production unit and a railway link to European markets.
With an increasing customer-oriented service, the Alfa Acciai Group places renewed focus on flexibility of the entire production range.
Increasingly focusing on environmental sustainability issues, Alfa Acciai has recently worked in partnership with A2A, a major Italian utility company, to research, design and produce an innovative, efficient system to recover thermal energy from the steel mill and transfer it to the district heating network, thus moving towards the circularity of energy and its recovery, as well as representing a classic example of the circular nature of metal scrap.