We visited one of the most modern and efficient boatyards in the industry. Cranchi has a long history dating back to 1866, characterised by continuous development through hard work, research, foresight and a real can-do attitude
by Francesco Michienzi
Aldo Cranchi is a man who has devoted his entire existence to improving his job every day. If you don’t know him it’s hard to understand his determination and innate ability for finding the best solutions to make the production process for a motorboat more efficient.
Building a boat to perfection means applying the same level of care to every detail, piece of fabric and fibreglass for each model, as they come straight from the cutting plant. The resin is prepared and applied automatically, with the amount, temperature and catalyst monitored continuously with equipment specially designed for Cranchi. Temperature and humidity need to be controlled in the resin catalysis process, and this is possible thanks to a huge conditioning system that changes the air 44 times an hour, making the environment as comfortable as possible
The process to build a boat starts with moulds that determine its safety, sturdiness and aesthetics, and this is why Cranchi is obsessive about looking after them properly, making sure they remain dust-free and kept in a temperature-controlled environment.
An enlightened entrepreneur with solid values of substance and form, he leaves nothing to chance. He has always tried, from the outset, to understand the best way of running a large shipyard. He’s done this away from the spotlight and media attention, always putting the needs of his firm first, as well as those of the people who’ve worked alongside him to develop and ensure the success of a company that celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2020.
This long success story started with Giovanni Cranchi in 1866 when he opened his first workshop on Lake Como, and 4 years later registered the company name, which is now in the hands of the sixth generation. This is a company in which the past and the future are bound by the invisible mark of continuity. Such a background sounds like a modern-day fairy tale, but in reality, it conveys the development of the roots of a major part of Italian industries, based on the quality and style that characterise us throughout the world. There are traditions, and this is the case with Cranchi, that smoothly blend with the latest technological innovation to achieve timeless success, going far beyond pointless, fleeting fortune. We’ve had the pleasure and honour of being accompanied by Aldo Cranchi himself during our visit to this highly interesting company.
Cranchi is currently offering 13 different models split into 5 ranges. These require 5,600 parts, and the priority is to have them all perfect, ready and available. As a result, there is an enormous warehouse stocking thousands of components from other companies manufactured by Cranchi. Staff equipped with a computer prepare all of the material required to build a specific model, down to the smallest screw, and load it onto a trolley for transfer to the assembly line.
The shipyard’s major innovative and technological power is evident in the systems the company uses to automate the production process. They have equipment from all corners of the globe, often designed especially for Cranchi, marking a real revolution in the industry in this respect.
It all began even earlier than 1870, the year the company was registered. It was 1866 when Giovanni Cranchi opened a workshop on the banks of Lake Como, in Sangiovanni in the district of Bellagio. Initially, work was commissioned, and boats were built for fishing and ferrying people and goods on the lake. 60 years later Giovanni’s grandson, who had the same name, bought premises in Brienno to create a fully-fledged shipyard. The first boats were built here, and the foundations were laid for the typical quality that still epitomises the brand. Giovanni Junior had a real passion for detail, selecting the most suitable materials and checking every construction step. After a brief period spent abroad (due to the war), he resumed production in 1952 alongside his offspring, focusing on wooden hulls throughout the 1960s. This period produced Taunus, Faster, Sbarazzino, the Dinghy 12 P, and various sailing boats. 1970 marked a watershed with the production of GRP boats started by Giovanni’s son, Aldo. That wasn’t the only thing. The business moved from small to more industrial-scale for the first time in the history of Italian boating, and the Piantedo site was established along with Tullio Monzino, co-founder of the new company. Big numbers became a feature with the Pilotina (1,550 units sold in six years), Scout (500 in five years), Rally 20, Hobby 20, Derby 700, Clipper 760, Start 21 and Cruiser 32. The premises also expanded, such that by the end of the 1980s it covered 20,000 m2. In 1997 the marine test centre opened in San Giorgio di Nogaro (Udine), with 2,900 m2 dedicated to testing prototypes in the water and introducing new models. The Seventy Plant 4 facility followed in Rogolo (Sondrio), for the production of boats of more than 50 feet. In 2006 the company changed from being a limited liability company to a joint-stock company with the 5th Cranchi generation. Currently at the helm are Paola, Elena and Guido Cranchi along with Franco Monzino. The 6th generation is already being prepared under the careful guidance of Aldo Cranchi.
PRODUCTION FACILITIES ARE RUN EXTREMELY EFFICIENTLY,
WITH EQUIPMENT, COMPONENTS AND PERSONNEL WHO IMPLEMENT
A PRODUCTION CYCLE WITH PRECISION COMPARABLE
TO A SWISS TIMEPIECE.
Direct investment in industrial-scale operations is ongoing. This method involves every step in the process, including carpentry using very fast electronic engraving machines, cutting operations with two complete cutting lines, electrolytic polishing on steel, resin distribution, catalysis, and checking fibre glass quantity with electronic scales. Also in use is a special six-axis cutter for different features and models.
The use of robotic systems is a major development for preassembling sub-units for assembly lines, such as equipment for winding, cutting, and clinching operations, cutting and bending special aluminium profiles, planetary pipe processing machinery which can be programmed in automatic mode with digital CNC equipment and electrohydraulic operation, electromechanical and pneumatic systems for end seams, a hydraulic press and a rising-blade saw. This is just some of the equipment used by the company.
Before actually commencing production, the company capitalises on the expertise of designers, engineers and technicians at the research centre named after Giovanni Cranchi, which includes 14 engineers and architects. This is where a design comes to life, reflecting experience and functionality using the latest computerised systems. Passion combines with standards that can be even stricter than legislation, to meet the requirements of a global market with increasingly tighter timescales, while containing costs and increasing quality.
(Cranchi, will to power – Barchemagazine.com – February 2023)