GVL Poly recently added a Leonardo Smart Rotational Moulding Machine to its Hesston, Kan., facility. The machine is from Persico Rotomoulding of Italy. From left: Ken Neu, GVL chief financial officer; Sergio Zilioli, Persico; Alberto Carrara, Persico; Claudia Persico, Persico; Dr. Paul Nugent, Total Petrochemicals; Allan Cronen, GVL chief executive officer; John Carder, GVL vice president of operations for Hesston facility; Von Grotto, GVL shareholder and founder; Nathan Hulstein, GVL president and director of engineering.

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GVL Poly recently announced the addition of the Leonardo Smart Rotational Moulding Machine to its Hesston, Kan., facility. GVL is the first company in North America to add the technology, which is developed by Persico Rotomoulding of Italy. GVL, which is based in Litchfield, Minn., produces polymer parts for agricultural, commercial and industrial industries.

The Leonardo machine is the first rotomoul­ding machine with a fully automated cycle. Persico says the machine saves 8-10% in raw materials and uses at least 15% less energy vs. the conventional rotomoulding process. There are 50 machines in use throughout the world. 

“The Smart moulding machine will allow us to shorten our cycle times. It’s a higher productivity piece of equipment with tighter process controls for higher quality parts. Our plan is to make gasoline, diesel fuel tanks and hydraulic tanks for agricultural and off-highway applications,” says Allan Cronen, GVL chief executive officer. He says the investment was under $300,000.

 “GVL Poly has invested heavily in new gasoline tank manufacturing solutions. We made a decision on which solutions to provide to our customers and we needed additional capacity to accomplish this,” Cronen says. “Producing consistent parts for gasoline tanks is necessary to ensure product safety.”

Cronen says the technology will allow them to produce higher quality parts, higher volumes from a single mold, with product cost savings. GVL has worked with Persico for about 5 years and has been investigating the technology for the last 3 years. The company is not yet announcing which customers will benefit from this technology but provides product to many familiar names in agriculture.

About Persico

Persico Leonardo RotoMoulding Machine

The Leonardo machine is the first rotomoul­ding machine with a fully automated cycle. Persico, the manufacturer, says the machine saves 8-10% in raw materials and uses at least 15% less energy vs. the conventional rotomoulding process.

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Persico has automotive, industrial and machine divisions. The company designs, engineers and manufactures prototypes, molds, automation systems and yachts. It also operates in the aerospace, aeronautics and rubber industries.


 Main production facilities are in Italy and other production and sales offices are in Rochester Hills, Mich., China and Germany.

“The Smart machine is a combination of our knowledge in rotomoulding and automation. It offers possibilities related to new materials, remote control processing and faster processing of automotive parts and opens up new markets,” says Sergio Zilioli, account manager for North America.

Explaining the Technology

The Leonardo machine has a compact production chamber, where all operations, heating, cooling, loading and unloading take place — as opposed to separate chambers requiring a larger footprint and higher levels of raw material and energy consumption.

Persico says the mold heating process is done quickly through thermoresistors, translating into a minimum reduction of 15% in molding time. Continuous control and monitoring of mold temperature helps ensure optimal distribution of material, decreasing the use of raw materials. The quality controls allow for production of complex geometric shapes and technical components. For instance, Total’s refining and chemical division, a supplier of polymer materials to GVL, used the technology to produce a concept electric car.

Beginnings of GVL

Von Grotto is the founder of GVL and the company has its origins in inventions by his father, Lavon, in the early 1990s. The family has a farming operation and they were looking for a way to adapt their combines to harvest 22-inch rows of corn. Lavon, who was the inventor of the Cozy Cab, had experience in design and molding and recommended trying plastic parts. They developed and marketed the first poly corn snout using a rotational molding process.

The Hesston facility opened in April 2014 and is the company’s first facility expansion. “There are a lot of manufacturers in the area and we were getting a lot of product requests. There is no competition within 350 miles,” Cronen says. He joined the company in 2007.

“It took someone like Allan to put the people in place to get us to this point,” Grotto says.

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View a video of the Leonardo Smart Machine and comments by Allan Cronen of GVL Poly and Sergio Zilioli of Persico.