Magnificent surroundings ... from Novacella towards Dobbiaco until, just a few kilometres after Brunico, we find ourselves in Monguelfo-Tesido with signs for Val Casies. A few more bends in the road and you can't go wrong: the large Moser Holzbau sign, a stylised house with a large yellow sun, tells us that we are here and it is time for our appointment: a meeting with Georg Moser, co-owner, together with his brother Alois, of the company we are visiting today, where a powerful SCM "area" has been operational since 2019.
"It was my father Josef who set in motion our adventure over sixty years ago. He was a carpenter and started out building with wood: certainly not houses, but barns, roofs, stables, refuges....it wasn't until my brother Alois and I took over the family business, at the start of the 1980s, that we decided to build timber houses. We both joined the company when we were very young, just out of carpentry school, and it is here at Moser that we became masters. Back in our father's days, only the roof was made of timber, while the rest of the house was in stone, but we saw the success of the entire building constructed with timber and, in 2000 we purchased the first press to produce the "X-Lam" or "Clt" panels, we required. The transformation was a continuous one and nowadays, the only thing we buy is the timber: everything else we do ourselves, from the project to construction. We also work for other companies supplying what is requested, from a simple panel to all the components of a house, ready to assemble".
Nowadays, Moser Holzbau has about thirty employees with a turnover of around 8 million Euro, about half of which thanks to the "packages" that are sold to other businesses, including construction drawings and diagrams: “We have set ourselves up so we can provide a complete package, adapt the projects shown to us to the timber building technique with the aid of our technical department and, where necessary, external consultants who help us to achieve the final stage, right up to the itemised lists of the various parts for production. We specialise in the production of houses and we also have our own small real estate company which we use to create "turnkey" projects: the most recent was right here in Monguelfo, a complex with 18 apartments which were sold even before they were completed, because nowadays, timber houses fascinate everyone very much!".
How did you come to build with "Clt"?
"To be honest, it was purely by chance: it was a Swiss representative of glues and adhesives who invited us to visit a "Clt" company. He also introduced us to a press manufacturer and it didn't take much to convince us that this would have been a highly satisfying choice. After all, we were dealing with wood, solid wood panels, on which to carry out holes for windows or grooves and passages... it wasn't that far off the work we had always done and required skills that, basically we already had. And that is how we found ourselves in 2000, building a few houses and roofs and now, twenty years on, we manufacture something in the region of 6 thousand cubic metres of "Clt" every year, measuring up to 3.5 by 13.7 metres".
That is really a lot...
"Yes, but with the right technology it isn't such a huge amount: we have invested a great deal, firstly in "vacuum" presses and subsequently in hydraulic presses that we designed together with our suppliers, because we had a clear idea of specifications and performances we wanted to achieve. A funny story, because with my blacksmith, we created a kind of vertical press prototype that was exactly what I was looking for, a project that proved so successful that the manufacturer, we finally selected, produced four machines for us but a lot more for other "Clt" manufacturers across the whole of Europe! Nowadays, we have everything we need starting from the still fresh plank that we dry in our systems, to the panel ready to be processed in the machining centres, in order to obtain all the finished parts with the specifications that our technical department input into the machine, ready to be taken to the building site so that the assembly work can begin. There is no lack of wood in these valleys. We have always lived alongside this raw material and have learned to understand it. We, at Moser, have created the future of our family and even today, we reflect, devise and speculate on what else we could do in the coming years: the third generation has already been in the company now for a while and we might even consider handling the wood procurement stages "by ourselves" so that we have better control over the fluctuations that, even in the wood sector, are the order of the day. Nowadays, the Moser Holzbau plants spread across a surface area of more than four hectares, of which "only" 13 thousand square metres are covered. So, there is space - if we want - to do much more. You see, I come from wood, my entire family comes from wood and our work, even though done with increasingly modern machines, still allows us to feel like artisans! Just think, that over the last few months, I have managed to achieve my biggest dream, to build a house for myself and my whole family in wood, from the earth to heaven!".
Mr Moser, you mentioned the machines that are increasingly more modern...
"Switching to timber construction undoubtedly led us to have more advanced machines for different processes. We realised very quickly that we could no longer work with traditional machines: arduous, unhealthy work because of the large amount of sawdust and wood shavings we had to move around in. We realised we had to completely revolutionise our way of thinking and it didn't take long to understand that we needed to invest in a numeric control machining centre.
In reality, we purchased our first machining centre for beam cutting and machining in 1995, machines that I consider trailblazing but which over the next twenty years underwent a series of evolutions and became invaluable tools for our growth. Our encounter with SCM came about later, around 2015, when we were invited to visit the plant in Sinalunga (Siena): we saw machines that instantly caught our attention, especially an "Oikos" with its solid structure that worked with a logic that appealed to me from the outset. Things evolved, and in a short space of time, we decided to purchase it to process beams, while we continued to produce "Clt" panels on "our" machine, created by us a number of years ago - in 2008, if I remember rightly - calling upon different suppliers to assemble software, track, sawblade aggregate and a robot! It worked back then and still works today, but considering the efficiency of the "Oikos", with this SCM technology, our production had improved and increased and we realised that we needed something more high performing.
Gradually, we realised that an "Area", equipped with a 35 metre track would have given our work a further input. It was a turning point: now we can produce "Clt" panels rapidly, with absolute precision, carrying out all the necessary operations for joint and fastening systems, electrical or hydraulic Installations and for anything else required. Our productivity has considerably increased and we can stay abreast of our two presses, reaching the work site with parts of absolute precision that we assemble without any problem: a machining centre that appealed to me, as I mentioned already, for its mechanics, the quality of carpentry and how easy it is to control".
A satisfactory choice...
"Absolutely, and it has allowed us to establish ourselves at a time when the demand for timber houses has risen considerably: to be honest, we had our doubts at the beginning, about abandoning our working method, but now that we have seen what the most innovative technology allows us to achieve, we ask ourselves why we didn't make the move earlier".
You mentioned that you are considering new options to enhance Moser Holzbau with new content...
"It is difficult to predict the future, but we have a very precise history, small steps taken one at a time since 1963 to the current day, one after another that have always led us forward. This, in addition to the fact that our whole family is in the company and the company is a priceless asset. We live for wood; it is in our DNA.
We have learnt to understand it better and process it in different ways, but it is always in our roots, the common denominator that links us to all those who work with us and choose us for their home... We live in a land where wood is part of life, forests that need to be maintained, trees that need to be cut to make way for new ones.... a resource that is renewed but at times is difficult to manage because supply and demand are not always aligned. From this point of view, we are considering the idea of investing to guarantee the supplies we need to fill the gap at that last stage which we are still missing, from the trunk to the plank.... we shall see. We have found our path and have organised ourselves to do our work as best as possible. Nowadays, we even have technology that makes it easier to achieve the best result: in light of all this, I can tell you that, no matter what the future holds, it will be a magnificent one".
by Luca Rossetti for Xylon
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