The fortunate accident of invention

A light bulb moment

From the revolutionary discovery of Penicillin to the impressive practicality of Super Glue, it is often the accidental inventions in history which are the most important ones. Radio frequency (RF) heating technology is no exception.

It was in the 1950`s that an employee of Philips Electronics was experimenting with a new antenna in a laboratory and noticed his body becoming increasingly warm. He soon realized the radio frequency waves were creating the heat.

The electronics company didn’t recognize the significance of the employee`s discovery until they were soon faced with a manufacturing dilemma. Philips made television sets with glass screens in wood frames. To join the materials, it was necessary to use glue, but since the glass and wood acted as insulators, it was difficult to dry the glue in the middle to create a stable set. Convection technology was not powerful enough to penetrate the glass and wood without burning or melting the outer material. That is when Philips decided to experiment with using radio frequency technology, a revolutionary experiment which would come to change the way the world understood heat.

Progress from the ground up

Our story begins thirty years later when the former director of Philips Italy struck up a friendship with a man named Dr. Eng. Patrizio Grando. Dr. Grando learned from the ground up everything there was to know in the research and development of radio frequency technology. Ten years later, he was well-equipped to establish RF Systems, a company which has since earned the reputation for creating the most efficient and reliable drying and defrosting systems in the world.

“That is really what sets us apart,” explains the Chief Marketing Director, Alessandro Grando. “We can improve the technology from its start design. We not only have passion for our work, but we also have the capability and technical knowledge passed onto us from the pioneer of RF technology.”

A family-grown success

Alessandro knows RF Systems better than most because he very literally grew up alongside it. He was born the same year his father, Dr. Grando, founded the company.

“It was always a part of my life, so it felt very natural to become a part of it,” Alessandro explains.

After finishing school and spending a year abroad working for multinational companies in both the US and China, Alessandro joined his father at RF Systems in 2010.

His enthusiasm for his work is evident. “It`s never boring, because we are creating new applications every day,” says Alessandro. “Being a family-run company allows us to take risks. Each experience broadens our knowledge and allows us to grow.”

Adapting to the future

Perhaps due to his longtime familiarity with the company, Alessandro is able to explain the highly complex technology in simple terms.

“Whether being used in the textile or food industry, the technology only interacts with water molecules,” he explains, “so it has no effect on the surface material. No high temperature is involved in the process of drying or defrosting. It is the intermolecular friction which removes the moisture.”

This technology has a wide range of uses from extending the shelf-life of baked goods, to defrosting foods, to the vulcanization of latex to make pillows and mattresses.

“The world is changing quickly,” says Alessandro. “Some of the main applications we use today did not even exist five years ago, so the future is an ongoing opportunity.”

Making the right choice

It was very early in RF Systems` history that Habasit was chosen as an ideal partner for their technology and the company has never looked back.

“We never changed from Habasit, because the service and the quality of the product is so good,” says Alessandro. “It was always a priority for us to have a partner who we could trust, because if you choose cheaply made products, the customers will see that and recognize that you didn’t make the right choice.”

The family-run company of only 20 employees is certainly choosing something right with an annual turnover of seven million euros. With customers like Barilla, Ferrero, Calzedonia and Nike, just to name a few, RF Systems is present in over fifty countries.

“Our strength has been to understand the market requirements in a changing world and to adapt and grow with them,” says Alessandro.

This requires constant innovation as demands for new applications arise every day. From soft polyethylene belts to modular belts, RF Systems relies on Habasit for durable and long-lasting products. Belts must be sturdy enough to carry large amounts of weight since it is not unusual to have up to 2000 pounds of product on the surface at one time.

Many of the belts used in defrosting applications are in the food sector, so hygiene is also a top priority. Across the full range of products, Habasit provides easy to clean belts for every application.

Sustainable innovation

Habasit`s commitment to quality fits well with RF Systems` practice of sustainability. In the past, gas or diesel were standard in the industry, but the company has not been satisfied with a solution which puts the environment at risk. Their machines do not use any kind of fossil fuels, but instead are able to convert 85–90% of the energy used into radio frequency waves so that very little heat is wasted.

“In constructing our machines, we try to use products which can be recycled and to utilize a minimum amount of components,” says Alessandro. “Today, we are proud to say that most of the parts do not need to be changed during the lifetime of the machine. We have customers who have been able to run our machines for more than 23 years without stopping them.”

Deep-rooted development

Although RF technology was an accidental discovery, the success of RF Systems has been anything but accidental. Through their passion and deep-rooted knowledge of the past, they have been able to build new pathways to the future. Habasit has been pleased to join them for the journey. (ST)
Sonja StrimitzerMarketing

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