To the Italian-based hose manufacturer Transfer Oil, a hose is never just a hose. With extensive experience in hose fabrication, and an intense focus on thermoplastic hoses for high pressure applications, Transfer Oil manufactures hoses, fittings and factory-made assemblies capable of covering the needs of distribution, MRO and OEM environments.
Hose + Coupling World spoke with Ugo Ferrari, CEO of Transfer Oil, and his team (Maurizio Romano, Sales Coordinator, Andrea Monari, R&D Coordinator, and Tony Bessette, Business Development Manager at the Houston branch), about the company’s thermoplastic hose products, its exceptional quality control processes, and the future of this legacy business.
By Angelica Pajkovic
Today, Transfer Oil ranks among the most important manufacturers of reinforced thermoplastic hoses in the industry. With dealers in more than 75 countries, the company provides high-pressure and ultrahigh-pressure hoses and assemblies for both fluid power transmission applications and for several other industrial sectors.
“Our company is in its own niche market,” said Ferrari. “Just talking about hoses is a bit too generic: the hose industry includes such a wide variety of product constructions, performances, and production processes. It may seem strange, but the fact is that not all hoses are made in the same way and we, at Transfer Oil, sit in an extremely specific segment; thermoplastic high-pressure hoses.”
Founded in 1979, Transfer Oil has always been focused on manufacturing reinforced hoses for hydraulic systems. Soon after its inception, the Italian company expanded its commercial activities to Europe and started to forge long-lasting business relationships with international distributors. Today, Transfer Oil operates globally, with headquarters located in the Italian countryside, not far from the city of Parma, and branches in Houston (USA), Shanghai (China), and Singapore.
“The expertise that we have built in this industry, where the pressure resistance is the key element, has allowed us to become an integral player in numerous industries where the final scope can range from fluid power transmission, to high-pressure fluid or gas conveyance,” said Romano.
Within the company’s own product portfolio, there are many industrial (non-fluid-power transmission) hoses available to customers across various operations, including: food and beverage, oil and gas, process operations, industrial air conditioning, and refrigeration. Most commonly though, Transfer Oil provides hoses and hose assemblies to the hydraulic (fluid-power transmission) market. This means providing hose solutions for lifting machines such as cherry pickers, forklifts, cranes, truck loaders, front loaders, and agricultural and earthmoving equipment.
“At Transfer Oil, our thermoplastic hoses are able to take advantage of characteristics that distinguish our products from the more popular rubber solution,” said Ferrari. “For example, thermoplastic hoses feature lightweight, operational resistance, weather resistance, low pressure drop, and cleanliness, which are all competitive advantages that make thermoplastic hoses the ideal solution in several applications,” added Romano.
Why Choose Transfer Oil?
Most hose manufacturers design products for a limited number of applications. Transfer Oil, on the other hand, counts on a more horizontal range of products, created to meet the requirements of dozens of niche market equipment, be it for hydraulic, industrial, or bespoke use.
“Among our competition, we differentiate ourselves by our large product portfolio,” explained Monari. “Transfer Oil is currently the only company that can manufacture hose products with pressures ranging from 300 psi to 55,000 psi, under the same roof.
Our expert ability to use both braiding and multi-spiral technology for hose reinforcement allows us to instinctively switch from one method of construction to another, providing us with the unique power to always offer the best solution to our customers; we do not need to ask them to stick to one technology or the other, as we are highly proficient in both.”
CNG twin hose.
Diverse Product Offerings
The advantage of diverse manufacturing expertise is that the knowledge lends itself to the creation of several high-quality products. For example, as pointed out by Bessette, “the Helix® line of Ultra High-Pressure hoses, which is 100% proof tested, ensures the highest safety and quality for water blasting, surface preparation, hydro-demolition, as well as UHP hydraulic applications such as bolt-tensioning. This premium range is only available as factory made assemblies through Transfer Oil headquarters and its branches in Texas, China, and Southern Asia.” Helix® UHP hose and fittings range complies with the color-coding guidelines set by the WJTA association. Each assembly comes with a traceability number, allowing customers to fully rebuild the history of that part by contacting Transfer Oil customer service or, even simpler, using a web tool available through Transfer Oil website.
For lower pressures, but harsher working conditions, Transfer Oil’s EcologyTM line is dedicated to sewer cleaning and water jetting applications. It was conceived to endure heavy-duty use in wet and severe environments. Its high-grade fabrication assures constant performance and increased resistance to mechanical abuses. In fact, its particular construction features a special braid reinforcement that allows a much stronger connection between the reinforcement layers and its cover. This unique process results in higher abrasion resistance and better cover adhesion leading to extended lifecycle.
Subsea and marine applications require specific products that can withstand harsh environments and the degradation that they cause. To address these applications, Transfer Oil therefore offers hose solutions for demanding offshore applications, BOP lines, hydraulic steering system for outboard motors, and any other device working in proximity to water or extremely humid environments.
Transfer Oil production facility.
Another distinctive element of Transfer Oil is its GOMAX® brand. These hoses are dedicated to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration business segment. More precisely, the GOMAX® brand is designed for large AC&R units used in commercial buildings, food stores, food companies, including ice-skating rinks. For these applications, Transfer Oil caused a revolution in the early 90s, by introducing a flexible hose solution, which can be coupled with brass fittings by using a hand plier, to safely replace rigid copper tubes in the test point, pressure switches, manometers, and oil return line connections.
To strengthen its position as leaders in its niche market, the company also recently released the CNG hose and fittings range for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) dispensers. “CNG hoses are dedicated to natural gas vehicle refueling, a product that can offer high value thanks to its premium construction, high performance, and the demanding standard it meets. Our dedication to manufacturing a product that has received the prestigious and stringent CSA certification, is something we feel very, very proud of,” expressed Ferrari.
To meet the standards of the Class A and Class D CSA certification, the CNG hose range is specially constructed to guarantee minimal permeation, resisting to a very high degree of mechanical abuse, while the conductive inner core dissipates any electric static build up. This product also features a polyurethane cover that is highly resistant to abrasion and weathering, leading to longer hose life. “This design does not use a metallic conductor, as the inner core is made of a special conductive polymer. Thanks to this, the hose can be constructed as a full textile braided structure, which makes the hose more lightweight and handier,” said Monari.
“We see all of our products as an opportunity to take an existing obstacle and create a high-quality solution,” added Ferrari. “This means being dedicated to producing different and more efficient hose products, which gives Transfer Oil a significant competitive advantage.”
Quality Assurance and Control
More than anything else, Transfer Oil takes pride in the quality of its products. Ugo Ferrari stated that, “quality control is part of the Transfer Oil DNA.”
All hose and fitting items must go through more than 70 stringent quality controls performed in the company’s state-of-the-art laboratory. This begins with the accurate selection of raw materials, followed by internal tube extrusion which is the most controlled phase of the process. In this process the inner diameters, wall thickness, outside diameter, ovality and concentricity are monitored by means of extremely sophisticated electronic instruments. Next, the reinforcement is applied on the core tube and braid deposition parameters are verified before starting the production; it is essential that the deposition respects the specified pitch, and that no defects are present. The hose manufacturing process ends with cover extrusion where, like tube production, thermoplastic polymers have their moisture content carefully controlled and the finished product outside diameter is continuously monitored. The last step in production has to do with hose coiling, where the final markings are printed on the hose products and a final check is performed to remove any flaws. From there, when required, the hose is assembled using the ‘poka-yoke’ method and components are identified with a bar code which is scanned to verify that the full bill of materials (BOM) is qualified.
“Quality is clearly a primary focus at Transfer Oil. We adhere strictly to the continuous improvement principle by discussing standard operative procedures on regular basis inside dedicated focus groups, with the intent to update and improve every process with the latest findings, including an increasing introduction of Lean Manufacturing methodologies,” stated Ferrari.
Looking forward, Transfer Oil is eager to expand its global market presence through an international distribution network and its branches. Its latest additions were strategically located in North America (Houston, TX) and Asia (Shanghai and Singapore). “We see organic growth taking place as we increase our geographical expansion,” explained Ferrari. “We are taking advantage of the fact that there is a growing demand for thermoplastic hose products globally, as these products meet most of the trends that the markets are currently following. OEMs are paying more attention to product’s origin and to the impact that their processes have on the environment. As we know, thermoplastic hoses check all these boxes, and this offers to us a promising outlook. In our company strategy we continue to see our Italian headquarters as the main hub for our production, through which we directly feed the demand coming from the European market and our branches overseas. Through local stock and assembling centers, Transfer Oil can offer the same service and customer experience.”
Ugo Ferrari and his team are not averse to change. They know the green energy transition will take place, and they want to be a part of it. “We are eagerly developing products intended for the new wave of clean energy vehicles, and more specifically, hydrogen powered vehicles,” he said. “Electric cars are showing great benefits but charging time and battery capacity are still large question marks. Fuel cells, which are using hydrogen to ‘produce’ energy, can be used in place of traditional batteries, keeping the good part of electric cars unchanged but offering an advantage when they need to be recharged. In fact, fuel cells are not actually recharged, a hydrogen tank is refilled and is used to convert hydrogen into electric power. Since it is ideal to store as much hydrogen as possible, in order to increase the car’s range, it is compressed at a very high pressure. To refill this type of tank, a hose capable of operating at pressures exceeding 15k psi, with a negligible permeability, resistant to weathering and flexible enough to be used in the field, is needed. While it is clearly a challenging project, it has enormous potential since many vehicles will likely adopt this technology. We are proud to see several installations of our prototype hose being successfully tested, which will facilitate this incredible transition that the global world is facing.”
“At Transfer Oil we offer a greater understanding of the needs of the market,” concluded Ferrari. “We are always anticipating products with distinctive capabilities, to change and improve in industries with a natural, pure fluid attitude.”