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Barbara Amerio, CEO, Gruppo Permare

JEC Composites Magazine interviewed Barbara Amerio, CEO of Gruppo Permare, current President of Confindustria Imperia, to understand how Amer Yachts is dealing with the many issues created by the pandemic and how it’s going to be prepared to a future that will definitely be different.

Barbara Amerio, CEO, Gruppo Permare
READING TIME

7 minutes, 50 secondes

Innovation is the topic that has always led the Gruppo Permare, founded in 1973 by Fernando Amerio. The latest boat under construction is the Flagship Amer 120. From the beginning the attention was on improving the environmental footprint in the building phases using a new innovative tool for mouldings and choosing Volvo Penta Ips propulsion able to be adapted for future Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) installation to sail in Emission Control Area (ECA) that will be increased more and more to respect the sea environment.

Amer 120 will have RINA certifications, in particular: “Green”, assessing environmental performance; “Comfort”, which assesses the noise and vibration on board; plus a new technical certification, which assesses the ship’s impact on the underwater environment. In order to obtain these certifications it is necessary to respect very strict parameters.

The latest boat under construction is the Flagship Amer 120.
The latest boat under construction is the Flagship Amer 120.

JEC Composites Magazine: What is the story of Amer Yachts?
Barbara Amerio: It’s a family shipyard nearing 50 years of activity, three generations with the passion for the sea, founded by my father, a self made man who, starting from the workshop, working hard and sharing all the important decisions with his children, led the way to be recognized by the Confindustria Nautica Award “Pioniere della Nautica”  (boating pioneer), that is an acknowledgement assigned every year to the commitment, dedication and abilities of men and women, who operate in the world of boating with competence, professionalism and passion.

Mr. Amerio research was aimed first to reduce fuel consumption, his idea was to use a single alternating engine in displacement while not giving up planing. He designed boats of high marine quality, the turning point was the close collaboration with Volvo Penta which allowed an exceptional performance and great comfort on board.

The delivery of the Amer 120’ super yacht is planned for 2021
The delivery of the Amer 120’ super yacht is planned for 2021

We are as well paying great attention to the environment issues, focusing on circular economy and boats end of life. We even invented a new term in the technical vocabulary: “Devtrizzare” Intending to reduce the fiberglass on board in order to reduce the environmental impact that we are going to measure and quantify in terms of weight by materials that will replace fiberglass .

JEC Composites Magazine: Can you tell us how the boat building materials have changed in the last 10 years?
Barbara Amerio: Generally speaking, many years ago, the traditional boat construction was based on the lamination thicknesses, a lot of resin hand rolled which meant the weights on board were difficult to control, from the insulation to compartments, to compensate rolling sometimes created by unbalanced furnishings, some builders used  weights in compensation. The introduction of the infusion technique has made possible to optimize lamination and impacted positively on the weights as well. It also improved the quality of the worker’s conditions, less exposed to health and safety risks. However, I’m convinced that this that can be further improved. Today, we utilize new generation combined cores such as PET and cork that are alternative to non-recyclable materials, and instead of using adhesives, we have developed fixing systems that facilitate inspections and disassembling in case of replacement, this is possible because vibrations on board have been reduced. Whether it’s an on-board machine or an electrical panel, the environment in which cables run needs organization.Thanks to special fixing solutions now we can group cables in an orderly manner on-board. Cables transport energy and chanelling systems, fastenings, ducting, guarantee functionality as well as safety. Stability on board is important as well to insure that staying on board is comfortable and safe as possible for everyone, stabilizers are fins or rotors mounted beneath the waterline and emerging laterally from the hull to reduce a ship’s roll due to wind or waves. Active fins  Gyro, variable rpm generators, not to mention advanced paints protecting the hull against aging and improving performance, all evolutions aimed to improve the product.

The Amer F100, the authentic Italian yacht
The Amer F100, the authentic Italian yacht

JEC Composites Magazine: How have you been affected by the Corona19 emergency? Did the lockdown give way to delays or cancellations?
Barbara Amerio: A never experienced situation, the two-month lock down of all activities gave us the way to reorganize and partially recover the accumulated delay. Luckily, Industrial Associations supported companies to understand and use the new safety procedures, banks provided economic support and customers trusted us: no order was canceled and, while we received new orders for 2021. The charter segment suffered cancellations from extra European Customers. On the other hand, second-hand sales have soared! In fact we noted a desire for escape and the sea after so many months of  home confinement.  Last summer was lived as “new normality” Today, despite the still present pandemic, we expect a challenging and positive year, we are launching the new 120’’.

JEC Composites Magazine: How did you experience the cancellation of the major marine exhibitions, apart from the Genoa Boat Show?
Barbara Amerio: An economic damage due to the loss of stand expenses anticipated before the cancellation and a difficult season for promotion. Genoa exhibition made a courageous and daring decision, and was rewarded by an emotional event that spread positively among exhibitors and customers.

The desire to restart is great, we hope to be able to travel soon because it’s not easy to sell remotely boats that have yet to be built. The creation of commercial corridors for those who travel after vaccination would be desirable to get our Country back on track sooner, currently, export managers, sale people and technicians have many problems in traveling abroad. Countries that will restart first will have a huge advantage.

Possible rear deck layout for the F100 yacht
Possible upper rear deck layout for the F100 yacht

JEC Composites Magazine: You are a shipyard of great tradition, in recent years you have been strongly involved in the sustainability issue, how do you plan to build greener, more efficient and environmentally friendly boats? What are the current trends?
Barbara Amerio: We started by focusing on reducing consumption and lightening the hull using new materials such as cork and new types of insulation. The pod propulsion helped us because the performances improved. We are currently researching new materials, hybrid / electric propulsion keeping and an eye to the future for hydrogen. At the same time, the IMO restrictions on emissions lead us to do new research to reduce fine powders for the hulls over 24 meters that we are launching this year.

JEC Composites Magazine: It is not enough to talk about boats sustainability, sustainable must be the shipyard as well, what’s your position?
Barbara Amerio: I believe that over the boats and the shipyard, is needed the  involvement of the supply chain, starting from concrete actions such as choosing suppliers close to production site to create less environmental impact, correct handling of goods, the courtyards water treatment, etc. We use electric vehicles to move inside and outside the yard.

Our gadgets are sustainable, our advertising supports the “Blue Mind” movement, we are committed to social issues, in territorial activities related to culture and sport, we collaborate with all schools of all levels.

We are also active in reducing the gender gap, we study flexible and agile work solutions for women and do internship training.

JEC Composites Magazine: What are your priorities today?
Barbara Amerio: Firstly, we want to consolidate the Amer range with a new project, the F100 and the new Amer 120, we are also collaborating with Enrico Benco and Christiana Talon of GS4C for a new project that concerns a new generation sustainable passenger ship, accessible to all, dedicated to whale watching. The project was presented during the event “Women 2027” to an European pitch and at Cop26 Women in green Growth event for Cop26 organized  by Uk embassy and STEAMiamoci, we hope the project will qualify for the European funds for sustainability 2020/2027  .

Possible layout for the F100 yacht
Possible lower rear deck layout for the F100 yacht

JEC Composites Magazine: We are observing an ever-growing interest in exploring the implementation of green technologies. There are many contributing factors but certainly the sensitivity towards environmental problems has changed. What will the new generation of Amer yachts be like?
Barbara Amerio: A lot is changing around us: the Côte d’Azur is banning anchoring close to the coast  to safeguard Poseidonia, there will be more and more buoy fields and large boats will be increasingly kept at distance from the shore. Autonomy of the boat in the harbor will be the new must, as well as increasingly capacious garages to stow tenders and toys used to reach the shore, exit the ports electrically or navigate at low speeds thanks to the stabilization achieved technically. We will make boats with Volvo Penta’s cherished concept of easy boating, easy for captains and increasingly serviceable globally, durable and with less fiberglass on board thank to the increased use of new materials. We are also interested in on-board waste treatment and the possibility of reducing plastic in packaging. Our boats are in great demand for charter and the 2021/2022 production is all intended for this growing market, customers are increasingly appreciating the idea of ​​being able to rent their boats, a solution that guarantees a recovery of expenses and a better amortization of the asset.

JEC Composites Magazine: You are involved with Filava, the mineral fiber derived from basalt, what are the solutions you will introduce soon? What do you think are the advantages of composites reinforced with Filava, compared to traditional reinforcements or natural fibers?
Barbara Amerio: To address the fiberglass end of life recycling issue, we choose to adopt the volcanic fiber Filava in place of glass. This fiber is obtained from enriched basalt, at end of life it is completely recyclable into a new virgin fibre. Our shipyard signed an agreement with GS4C to design and build the first non structural element that will be featured on the next Superyacht currently under construction.

AMER 100 in action

AMER 100 sailing on the ocean

Filava is a very interesting product, the tests with ENEA have produced the desired results, we are now working on pairings and we will print other components to continue the material tests, we already have the F100 consoles in Filava, we also manufactured a mock up that will be used in July in Monaco for a shared project with Deep Speed, ​​the innovative Italian start-up that patented a very interesting electric pod.

What I really like is that it’s perfectly recyclable material and that can improve safety for the workers more exposed to health risk in the nautical chain. Encouraged by the Rina (Registro Navale Italiano), we are calculating the material LCA that will be compared with traditional fiberglass.

JEC Composites Magazine: Do you think the future of boating will be green?
Barbara Amerio: I think that before the arrival of hydrogen there will be no perfect solution, we will wait for the green turning point for a long time, there will be acceptable compromises and we hope the transition will soon take place because I would not just live it but be protagonist.

More information http://gruppopermare.it/