September 25, 2022

Hardwood Paroxysm

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Ceramiche Noi, at work before dawn to save energy – Corriere.it

A fierce sun rises behind the mountains from above Tiber, while a mechanical hum already spreads over the tobacco fields of a We. The sound of a machine devouring gas and electricity and returning 450 ceramic plates an hour by the skillful hands of seven women sitting at the end of an automatic transmission. They have been there since before dawn, focused, alert, leaving no trace of sleep on their faces.. The seven workers collect the still-hot ceramics, and with a speed and precision that can only be learned in so many years, they arrange the posters until the most beautiful paintings in the world appear. They prepare them for luxury shopping in San Francisco, Dubai, Sydney and Kuwait City, where they are sold under world-famous brands at prices more than twenty or thirty times the cost of production. The encapsulation will soon be carried out in another corner of the shed, at altered and intermittent times so that the sun fully covers the windows for as long as possible, and thus the time the neon lights remain on can be determined.

price goes up

Since the war in Ukraine began, the price of methane has increased tenfold compared to the averages of the last decadeEven the day of these seven workers is no longer the same. They’ve stopped making breakfasts for their young children, checking that they leave the house in their regular clothes, or even just seeing them in the morning. All seven have been in cars since before dawn, in this shift designed to take advantage of lower electricity rates, and also savings on air conditioning and thus help preserve the “Ceramiche Noi” co-op – the name in itself. Doing Business – In the Biggest Energy Storm in Half a Century. Three thousand kilometers from here, Vladimir Putin tried gas as a weapon to punish others, take revenge, and bend the will of others.. It cut off supplies several times, to the point of making the raw material equal to 200 euros per thousand cubic metres, when the price we considered normal in Europe was twenty. This was the price on which the cost structure was based for millions of businesses, for tens if not hundreds of millions of jobs.

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transportation risks

Calculations for “Noi”, a cooperative set up by eleven workers who were fired in 2019 due to moving to Armenia, are being done quickly. With a consumption of 2,200 cubic meters of gas and one thousand kilowatt-hours per dayThe energy bill is swollen from less than a fifth to nearly half of business costs or from €182,000 in the already tough 2021 to just 327,000 in the first six months of 2022, pending the new rip-off to jobs announced for October.

They saved the company

And to say that in 2019, these eleven put everything they had into it, to save the company and themselves: they paid here severance payments, unemployment benefit (Naspi), and above all a lot of heart, liver and such an amount. Brains to control the company abandoned by the shareholder in the mirage of low costs in Armenia. Resettlement collapsed in a few months because centuries-old handicraft deposits do not move from one continent to another like a single piece. And at Citt di Castello, eleven blue-collar members, former dismissed employees, proved thatIn three years, the turnover of the old company they took had more than quadrupled to more than two million euros, gained market share worldwide, and a trust relationship with some major American and French brands. Now they too were about to enter the Co-op Capital.

Technology and skills

A heroic saga of the working class, made up of desperation and stubbornness, but also of vision, flair and competence. These eleven had inherited a company which was now only four shed walls and one pottery furnace, which the old master left merely because dismantling it and transporting it to Armenia would have cost more. They rebuilt everything better than before, literally inventing new machines from which only empty and dusty spaces remained. Marco Brozzi, a 47-year-old worker who has been here since he was 14, designed the techniques that now hold the “we” on the coffee table in the upper square of the Cite di Castello and gave the drawings to be made to Roberto Albi, 45, An electrician and a scientific programmer himself produces tobacco dryers two hundred meters from here. There are no academic qualifications at stake (I have an accountant’s diploma, which was purchased, Brozzi says with a treacherous smile) but there is plenty of experience in the deep weaving of the craftsman’s profession carried over into the 21st century. The rotary enamel sprayer has a diameter of four meters; hydraulic press presses fresh clay on its molds by the forces of water, then gives its shape to plates, trays and bowls; An automatic finishing machine that smooths the edges and finally dryers that reuse the heat of the gas oven and also uses a lot of electricity to dry the floor on which the dishes are made white and hard ceramic.

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Less waste

All this consumes energy, thus also eating the first ten thousand euros return that the founding members hoped to distribute in the middle of this year. They did everything to make it happen. In order to produce more and reduce waste, they’ve designed with the help of dryer maker Albee, a program to which each machine is connected via a tablet to get an accurate picture of every step in the plant at any given time. To save on land, they ceased to be brought from Rome where the incidence of fuel was doubled to 30% of the final cost; They built another car in the house on purpose. Anticipating a massive shortage of packaging materials, as well as the result of the boom in gas costs, they went into debt to grab paper and cardboard last spring. Now they only turn on certain electrical machines in the evening until midnight and beyond, after calculating a 15% saving on the bill.

Orders of fashion and luxury

But the trauma of war in Europe still casts a shadow over the saga of Ceramique Nui. Previously only coming from Ukraine, kaolin, a clay substance that makes ceramic white, hard and glazed, is running out. What will you do next? I don’t know – says Lorenzo Giornelli, who maintains relationships with major international clients at the company -. We’ve got books full of demand until next year, and the biggest names in fashion and luxury are looking out for us, yet we’ll struggle to close the budget in balance. It’s the first light at dawn, a favorite moment because the lights go out but you can still do without turning on the ventilation systems. The faces of the blue-collar contributors are marked by fatigue and tension from feeling the prey of a storm much larger, distant, and uncontrollable with their iron will. At least we can make predictions, but we don’t know how much our costs will be in three months. Together with Lorenzo Giornelli, production manager Marco Brozzi keeps his nose glued to his mobile phone: as he does all the time now, he checks gas prices at the Amsterdam futures market. 189 euros At the moment, we’re at the limit, he tells Giornelli. He caresses his cars one by one with such pride that not even Putin will be able to dissuade him.

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