Gervasi Ecologica is an Italian company which specialises in the design and manufacture of semi-trailers for scrap metals. It is a small niche in the industrial vehicle market, particularly important for the strategic role it plays within the circular economy.
These vehicles are developed to be the best solution for scrap recycling and transport companies, particularly those that deal with scrap metals.
With more than 40 years of experience, Gervasi Ecologica has seen much success in its home country and is now expanding into other markets.
Earlier this year a Belfast-based recycler specified a tipper semi-trailer with crane, the Cobra KR65H. This version is one of the most popular variants due to its large capacity. A single vehicle can collect, transport and unload up to 65 cubic metres of bulk materials almost everywhere, even without big crawler cranes and handlers.
The trailer chassis is designed and produced by Gervasi Ecologica, made in high resistance steel and slightly rear lowered for a better stability and lower loading floor.
The body is made in wear resistant steel 450HB, reinforced with folded and entirely welded uprights and profiles. Despite Gervasi Ecologica production which has European Type Approval, all the trailers are made to measure to suit perfectly the requirements and specifications of the job.
In the case of this particular customer, Cobra KR65H features an 11.3m crane made by the Italian manufacturer, Marchesi, with a lifting capacity of 20 tonnes / m. The crane is mounted in the front part of the chassis and is equipped with a polyp grab made by Rozzi, another Italian company. These developments demonstrate that Gervasi Ecologica is transforming the scrap metal recycling industry in Northern Ireland and has made an important step in the right direction.
Alessia Gervasi – co-founder and daughter of Gervasi Ecologica Managing Director, Sebastiano Gervasi – has been a part of the family business alongside co-founder and sister, Stefania, since the very beginning.
“Sebastiano used to bring me and my sister Stefania to see his work once a week and I’ve grown up with the passion for steel and construction,” Alessia Gervasi said.
“Once I completed my education plan, I dived right into the family business, where I covered several positions in order to have a direct full view of company activities.
“I have worked in the Production Department and Vehicle Testing, Quality management, Accounting and Human Resources, Communication and last but not least Purchasing.
“Then, after about 10 years of experience, I decided to dedicate all of my energy to innovation and production process management for Gervasi Ecologica, our new family business with a green DNA and a lot of new ideas.”
In the early 1980s, Sebastiano Gervasi followed his passion for trailers and started an artisanal production in his small garage.
“His genial intuition was to focus on trailers for scrap collection in a period when ‘recycling’ was not exactly a trend topic,” Alessia Gervasi said. “At that time, scrap metals and end-of-life materials were transported with common vehicles, with the obvious result of a low efficiency and reliability.”
The first trailer that contributed to the facilitation of recycler work was the Canguro, a small tipper semi-trailer with goose-neck chassis designed to be extremely stable, featuring robust steel to resist hard wearing materials.
“After many years of growth in the domestic market, our work was noticed by one of the leading recycling groups in France,” Sebastiano Gervasi said. “They were looking for a new solution and we had all the competencies to help them. So, in 2009, we started producing Maxi Tiger, a large volume tipper semi-trailer (80 cubic metre capacity) with two lateral cylinders. The tipping system we invented for Maxi Tiger is still nowadays a unique solution and an unrivalled advantage in terms of stability and safety during tipping operations.”
Over the years, Gervasi Ecologica’s competencies have been lent to other industries including construction and mining, extending the range of the manufacturer’s products beyond its initial portfolio.
It was this reason that in 2016, Alessia Gervasi and her sister, after a long experience in several different departments of the company decided with their father to bring all of their experience and passion back to the original focus on vehicles tailored for recycling. Hence, Gervasi Ecologica was born.
“Our mission is to provide recycling operators with the best trailers for scrap collection and transport and we want to reach this ambitious goal focusing all our people, technologies and resources on this important challenge,” Alessia Gervasi said. “We are currently beginning the fifth year of Gervasi Ecologica life and we are pleased to say that all our efforts have already reached important results such as a new site, patented safety system, a new product with a registered design and considerable increase of our recycling industry customer base.”
Today, Gervasi Ecologica’s production is open to any request concerning vehicles for scrap handling. The OEM can also produce truck bodies, with or without crane, tippers, hook-lift equipment and moving floor trailers with specific steel slats.
“With a wide range of possibility for all the companies involved in scrap handling, we are always open to new requests,” Alessia Gervasi said. “Our expertise in design is driven by our deep knowledge of the sector and has the shape of the strong steel chassis and bodies.”
Production mainly comprises wear resistant steel (SSAB’s Hardox or equivalent) as well as hardness suitable for waste materials such as metals, end-of-life vehicles, timber and bulk refuse.
“Knowledge of this special raw material and craftmanship in shaping it in strong and sometimes huge trailers is the result of great passion and long experience.”
Gervasi Ecologica has a five-year plan to enter and consolidate its presence in new European markets.
“Thanks to our European Type Approval, trailer registration is very easy and our trailers are already on the road in countries including France, UK, Germany, Belgium and others,” Alessia Gervasi said. “We want to increase the level of awareness of our specialised production. Also, our purpose is two-fold, to grow our business and support the circular economy. We strongly believe that the use of solutions like Maxi Tiger, with a capacity of 80 cubic metres, is extremely safe thanks to its two lateral cylinder systems which facilitate the work of many operators dealing with scrap metal. Basically, it’s a matter of doing only two trips instead of three to move the same volume of scrap, resulting in lower costs, number of drivers involved, traffic and carbon emissions. This is a huge benefit we want to promote as much as possible.”
Within the first three years of the official launch of Gervasi Ecologica, unveiled its new solution – Skyler – with a registered design and patented safety system.
“Skyler, in particular, has been an important project,” Alessia Gervasi said. “It’s a semi-trailer with a moving floor for scrap transport, an innovative solution which combines all the qualities of moving floor with the high resistance of steel. Skyler completes our range and represents an important alternative to tippers.”
Due to the specialised nature of Gervasi Ecologica’s builds, annual output is estimated to be below 100 units.
“The year 2020 marked a slowdown in our growth but the current figures in 2021 are extremely positive and confirm the objective of more than 30 per cent growth in the first five years,” Alessia Gervasi said. “The products which mostly contribute to pursue this objective are Maxi Tiger, the best seller in foreign countries, and Cobra KR (with crane and polyp grab) in Italy.”
The manufacturer is based in Buriasco, a small village near Turin, north of Italy.
“Here we carry out design and production of all our vehicles,” Alessia Gervasi said. “The company moved into Buriasco in 2018. When production increased we wanted to give a new house to our projects. The site is close to the former location and is a 18,000-square-metre area with a great potential and which we plan to completely recover within the next five years – in full accordance with the latest guidelines and sustainable building. Our ‘green DNA’ drives us to support sustainability in all of our internal projects and daily activities.”
With the exception of some key suppliers such as SSAB, SAF-Holland, IPH and JOST, the trailer builder strives to reduce transport costs with all its consequences in terms of sustainability and better risk management.
As for Gervasi Ecologica’s place in the Italian economy, in the second half of 2020, the Federal Government set important incentives for the purchase of new vehicles fitted with geo-localisation and web-based interconnection.
“Our kit GEN!O is suitable to allow customers to access these contributions up to 50 per cent of the total investment,” Alessia Gervasi said. “GEN!O is a kit that is able to connect with the trailer via web and return data and information about safety checks, geo-localisation and maintenance alerts.”
Another trend in Italy at the moment is the issue pertaining to the average age of fleets.
“We are probably among the eldest in Europe but I’m confident that the recent program of incentives can be the definitive turning point,” she said. “ The number of new trailer registrations in January 2021 increased by 15 per compared to last year (source: UNRAE) and this make us look forward positively.”