Managing Change in a Fast-Changing World
- October 14, 2018
If there is one thing that struck me during a visit to several metal fabricators in northern Italy, it is their ability to efficiently manage rapid change in manufacturing.
Take CECOMP as an example. The Torino, Italy-based automotive parts and electric vehicle manufacturer and prototype developer for customers such as Maserati, Aston Martin and Alpine opened its newest facility last year, a 20,000 sq m operation equipped with 2D and 3D fiber laser cutting systems, automated material handling and robotics. Gianluca Forneris, sales managing director whose father formed the company in 1978, says Torino used to be the hub of car manufacturing producing millions of cars. China changed that, and today the number of cars produced in the region has shrunk considerably. “So, we needed to change and today we have the right mix of technology and we are growing.”
In addition to 10 press brake cells with robots, the company operates a fully automated Prima Power 2D cutting system, the Genius LGF 2040 fiber equipped with a 6 kW resonator and an automated sorting and picking system, and three 3D fiber laser cutting machines, the Laser Next series of machines with 6 kW fiber lasers and rotary tables. One of the three, the Laser Next LN 2141, will be featured at this year’s EuroBlech because it is the first in this series of machines that is designed for use in non-automotive sectors such as aerospace. An important component of CECOMP’s ability to remain competitive is the Prima Power Night Train FMS, the flexible manufacturing system that gives the company the ability to run seamlessly 24/7.
Making switch gears
ABB’s sprawling Dalmine, Italy plant is one of three factories in the region that employs 800 people and generates revenue of approximately $300 million. The facility houses production for medium voltage connectors and switch gears. During our visit, Shop Metalworking Technology had the opportunity to see production of the company’s UniSec line of indoor air assisted switch gears for secondary distribution. The products are fully fabricated and assembled in the plant.
Once again, automation is a key component of the company’s ability to operate competitively in a high cost country and part of how it accomplishes this is with the use of a fully automated Prima Power punching, shearing and bending cell equipped with an automated waste collection unit. The cell runs 24/7 with the ability to produce approximately 30 to 40 parts pieces per hour or about 360 parts in one 7.5 hour shift.
Making spray paint booths
Despite being installed in 2007, the fully automated punching, shearing and bending cell at USI Italia, has been running smoothly since it was first installed. And once again, automation has played a key role in helping this Italians spray booth manufacturer maintain a competitive edge.
The fully automated Finn Power (now known as Prima Power) punching/shearing combination system operates alongside a Finn Power Night Train material handling system, allowing the company to run an unattended operation. Currently the company runs three shifts. The company produces its spray booths using powder coated sheet metal. It sells approximately 285 spray booths and 200 prep booths annually. With an 11-month period the automated production line can produce 40 to 50 units. While production costs are high in Europe, Michele Stradiotto, sales and marketing manager, says USI Italia is highly competitive and attributes this to the Prima Power equipment.
“This year we’ve had 15 per cent cent growth. Our booths are 30 per cent less expensive than our German competitor and that is because of our automation. We are looking at robots that we think will help us to grow in the future. We regularly invest in new technology and that has helped us to grow in a controlled and stable way.”
Shop Technology Magazine attended a press trip to Italy arranged by Prima Power during which we visited three manufacturers.