Sustainable leather production with the support of artificial intelligence (SULEMAI)

Ger Elettronica S.R.L. has undertaken a new project that enables the company to develop and implement innovative solutions to improve the environmental sustainability of the tanning industry. The project was supported by the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy through the provision of a direct contribution to expenditure amounting to €694,613 and a subsidized loan amounting to €416,443, financed as part of the Union’s response to the COVID19 pandemic.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with DANI S.P.A. and is based on the objective of reducing the environmental impact associated with leather processing by developing and implementing innovative solutions to address issues related to the traditional production process.

The main action in this regard lies in the development of a new liming and depilation process, which potentially allows for the abandonment of both lime and sulphide, the reagents traditionally used in this phase. The use of alternative reagents has several advantages in terms of environmental impact, but requires the introduction of a variety of changes in the process.

The new process, as conceived, would also make it possible to recover a significantly larger fraction of fur and organic matter, limiting their presence in wastewater and generating a by-product that, properly processed, can be used for a variety of applications.

GER’s contribution concerns the creation of a digital model of the tanning process, or its most critical stages, capable of suggesting certain set-ups in real time with the aim of optimizing the consumption of resources, particularly reagents. To realize such a model, as well as to enable it to generate the desired outputs, it is planned to build and install in the tannery monitoring and measurement systems capable of acquiring data and information about the product at the various stages of processing.

A further action envisaged during the course of the project concerns the possibility of tracking hides and skins at the various stages of processing in an extremely precise manner compared with the state of the art, with several advantages in terms of process optimization and waste reduction.