The finest fibres that come from Biella

Filatura Italo Bertoglio, located in Biella, in the Italian wool textile cluster, is mainly focused on the production of carded yarns to third parties; however, a small part of yarns, about 10%, is produced for the market on demand
Stefano Bertoglio
Stefano Bertoglio, General Manager at Filatura Bertoglio Italo
Stefano Bertoglio
Stefano Bertoglio, General Manager at Filatura Bertoglio Italo

It was 1946, just one year after the ending of World War II, when Italo Bertoglio established his company, a carded spinning mill that now, after 71 years, is still run by his descendants, his son Maurizio and his nephew Stefano. And even if the situation is very different from that moment, when people just would like to leave behind the terrible sufferings of the seven-years long conflict, the love for this kind of textile process is the same.

The Production Process

The mill is specialized in wool and noble fibres like cashmere, alpaca, angora, camel, silk and mixed wool with nylon, viscose, cotton and others. The decision to move mainly to animal fibres was due to the decline of cotton and was taken in the 1980s.

«We have a production capacity of 2,500 kilos of yarn per day – Stefano Bertoglio explains – distributed in 8 carding sets and 3000 spindles. What characterises our company is the ability to work a very wide range of yarn fineness: we start from 3.5 to get to 36 metric counts; in case of very fine fibres, such as for example a blend of cashmere and silk, we can also reach peaks of 42,000 nm. Biella is renowned for being able to process the finest fibres but there is also a market for the biggest counts and we are well experienced in this niche».

Another peculiarity of Filatura Bertoglio Italo is the production of carded yarns with neps, a typology used mainly in knitwear. «We have a carding machine that dates back to 1930s that works specifically for hand knitting and knoppy yarns. As the others, it is equipped with electronic control of the products, monitoring online the given parameter. But it is fascinating to think that something conceived and built about a century ago is still working so well and can be interconnected with the new technologies». The carders are installed in separate divisions, one for the raw fibres and one for the dyed ones, in order to avoid any colour contamination on the white yarns.

The company has 42 workers, during the last decades it has constantly increased its activity. The first big change was in the 1980s, when the last two old cotton carding sets were dismissed to make space for the new ones specialized in wool; then it was the turn of new spinners and of a brand new blending department, where the different kind of fibres are mixed to obtain the correct percentage requested by the client. In the 1990s the mill was enlarged with a new warehouse: now the total surface occupied is about 5,000 square metres. Among the 8 carding sets, two has been installed very recently to be used as a «lung» able to absorb the production peaks, especially when the mill is working the autumn/winter collections. In this way, the company can always satisfy the clients’ requests and this is very important considering that production scheduling is more and more fast and unpredictable. Last year, the winding division has been equipped with Schlafhorst models Autoconer 6, X5 and 338 operating with thermosplicers and electronic slubs. It is interesting that the semi-finished rovers can also be delivered with «Cardorocca system» on cones, that guarantees the softness of the product because the yarn has no twisting.

Energy Saving and GOTS Certification

The Bertoglio family also decided to provide the spinning frames with new mechatronic heads: «This innovation – Stefano Bertoglio says – is very important because the pieces of machinery have become more reliable and energy saving. We use a simple display to change the spinning speed and the yarn count, whereas in the past every time we wanted to set the last parameter we had to change mechanisms, that moreover were subject to wear. The gear has been replaced by an inverter that makes easier and cheaper to switch from a batch to another».

The mechatronic head is the result of the participation of Filatura Bertoglio Italo to a research project carried on at Pointex, the textile innovation pole established in Biella by the Piemonte Region to stimulate and help textile and garment companies in innovation, research and test of new solutions. «We are very grateful to Pointex – Bertoglio says – because for a small company like us it is very difficult to face projects like this, that require a lot of time and investments, alone. Thanks to their commitment and help, especially in the tremendous bureaucratic aspects, we reached a very good result and we decided to adopt the new head for all our spinning machinery».

In order to improve the company performance, the plant has also a photovoltaic installation of 1,000 square metres, built in 2012, that provides about 15% of the energy needed.

«Last but not least – the nephew of the founder adds – thanks to a client that carries all its spinning process on in our plant, we also have a GOTS certification, the Global Organic Textile Standard, that states our sustainability on environmental, social and ecological criteria. For us, this has been a great recognition of our efforts to be attentive, receptive to our clients’ needs and up-to-date. We spent about two million euros in the last five years to be competitive on the market and, in a period characterized by a general shortage of the investments and considering also our small dimensions, we think this is a strong sign of trust on textile. The results proved us that this was, and still is, the right strategy: for us, the economic crisis ended in 2011, just three years after its beginning, because the market found that we were able to face the challenges of the new global world».

Most of Filatura Bertoglio Italo clients are Italian, and in particular of the Biella cluster, and this story explains quite well why this textile cluster, the last remained in Europe with the entire production chain intact, has survived the last economic tsunami and is now recovering with excellent results. Because here there is a net made of know-how, tradition, innovation and passion that is the core of much of the made in Italy products, so appreciated worldwide. And this company is a vital part of this net.