BCS Group: seventy years of success
The BCS trademark came into being in 1943 through the work of Luigi Castoldi. His great contribution to agricultural mechanization and great investments in projects for the future were described at a meeting held at the end of October in Abbiategrasso. Brand new BCS machines presented in Hanover while testing of new half-track Sky Jump continues
The BCS industrial group, one of the most important and prestigious manufacturers of tractors for specialized crops and other agricultural machinery, recently celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the trademark. Back in 1943 engineer Luigi Castoldi, in a tiny workshop in Viale Mazzini in Abbiategrasso, near Milan, designed and built his first motor mower, the MF 243, marking a genuine revolution in the agricultural scene of the time thanks to its remarkable efficiency and positive impact on the lives of rural community residents who would otherwise be forced to mow with lengthy and tiring manual labor. At the end of the 1960s BCS entered the field of green maintenance machines by producing the first "light" multipurpose two-wheel tractors of small dimensions whereas only expensive and bulky machines existed until then. Starting in 1970, considering the request to increase productivity in the agricultural field, rotary disc-mowers for tractors were included in the BCS range of products. In 1988 BCS purchased Ferrari in Luzzara and in 1999 BCS acquired Pasquali in Calenzano to strengthen BCS Group's divisions with two brands with great international reputations for their production of isodiametric, or four equal wheel tractors. The BCS Group presently counts on three production plants – Abbiategrasso, Luzzara and Cusago – and on seven subsidiaries around the world. Today, with seventy years of history behind it, BCS turns out wide and diversified ranges extending from forage machinery and professional machinery for groundskeeping to power mowers and cultivators and on to specialist tractors. While maintaining the group's core business in the agricultural and green sector, BCS broadened its scope in 1963 by establishing the company MOSA now marking its fiftieth anniversary at work in the sector of industrial machinery, engine driven welders and generators.
The city of Abbiategrasso itself took part in the BCS anniversary celebrations and in a show of how deeply the group is rooted in the territory named a street after Luigi Castoldi, a part of the present Viale Mazzini where one BCS plant is located, to honor his contribution to the progress and employment picture of the area. Moreover, the Abbiategrasso municipality set aside the Castello Visconteo courtyard and halls for an exhibition dedicated to the men and machines who raised BCS to great success. The anniversary also provided an occasion for presenting the group's 2012/13 balance sheet and new products for the upcoming season reported during a press conference held here 30 October.
The figures disclosed were better than those the group had forecast at the beginning of the season – those drawn up in light of the grim national economic picture and especially the crisis conditions in the agricultural mechanization sector when a five point drop in sales was foreseen. As it turned out, turnover came to 103.270 million euro for a decline of 3.7% under the previous season's sales. In the agricultural-green sector, sales came to 80.630 million euro and a gain in volume of 0.05% to buck the trend shown in the BCS reference sectors, many of which displayed decreases. The overall results were considered satisfactory by displaying the Lombardy group's ability to hold out. In further detail, 63% of BCS turnover was accounted for by exports in the agri-green and energy sectors which rose two points over the previous season to confirm the way the group's development is linked to emerging markets. Against a drop of a few points on the French and German markets, the group was able to point to significant gains in Australia, up 8.7%, a surge of 32.9% for Saudi Arabia, India ahead by 7.6% and Morocco climbing 27.8%. Promising prospects were also discussed for such counties as Georgia and Sudan where BCS has won important contracts. For the 2012/13 season, BCS is looking to sales in line with the past season for the agri-green sector with the prospect of slight increases in the second half of the season.
Among the new products unwrapped at the press conference and sent to Hanover for Agritechnica 2013 were cultivators with the 740 and 750 models slated to go into production in January 2014 powered by new generation single-cylinder Kohler KD440 diesel engines given a preview to BCS as a partner for the group's single axle machines. Totally new is the 660 WS HY hydrostatic drive mower unveiled in Hanover. (See Mondo Macchina/MachineryWorld 10/11.) Another area in which the Abbiategrasso group is investing heavily in R&D is machinery for forage harvesting. Planned in this sector is the arrival for a new Neva range; originally presented at the 2010 Eima International and now up for presentation is updating for the Rotex range to come to the market with the initials NT, the acronym for Neva Technology. Following debut at Eima International 2012 of the Rotex NT front mounted forage mower-conditioner, BCS presented in Hanover three models without conditioning, the Rotex 5 Avant NT, the Rotex 6 Avant NT and the Rotex 7 Avant NT with working widths of 2.10, 2.45 and 2.85 meters. Standing out among BCS tractors is the renewed Vithar with the design taken from the top of the range Volcan and mounting an updated transmission. The Vithars are also equipped with a double mass steering wheel to smooth out long travel torsion and have a great ability to eliminate the cyclic irregularities of the internal engine as well and features a greater than usual capacity to transmit the torque generated by the engine. Standing apart is the Sky Jump concept unveiled for a preview at the 2012 Eima International and still under intensive testing while holding out promise of becoming a high-performance machine even where, the company said, tracked tractors "dare not go." The Sky Jump is likely to be seen on the market in the near future if not out in the field for further trials due to the introduction of new Tier 3B emission norms coming in 2015 to condition the production of specialist tractors. The so-called half-track, however, is making good progress towards it debut.