Highly Automated Switchgear Fabrication

Industry 4.0 technology also starred during our Italian adventure at a tour of the ABB electrification-products facility in Dalmine, Italy. The facility, which manufactures medium-voltage switchgear, employs a Prima Power Night Train material-management system and a PSBB compact, flexible manufacturing system to manage the movement of sheetmetal blanks as large as 1500 by 3000 mm. The production line includes a Model SGe6 punch press with right-angle shear; Model C1500 sorting conveyor; a PSR6/2 robot; and a Model EBe5 bending machine with an unloading system on roller conveyor, served by an ABB (of course!) robot.

Our tour guide, Fabio Golinelli, the facility’s advanced processes and technology manager, boasted of the line’s flexibility and productivity. Installed in May of 2016, the line produces components for four basic families of switchgear in the ABB UniSec line. Golinelli also explained the plant’s adoption of the Japanese-based Jidoka lean supply chain.

Automotive paint booth USI Italia
USI Italia manufactures paint-spray booths and finishing systems for the automotive, aircraft and other industries, and its managers credit the Prima Power equipment lineup with boosting productivity and helping to control costs. “Our spray booths cost as much as 30 percent less than those of our competitors in Germany,” we were told, “and at the same time we can turn around orders in as little as four weeks, a 50- to 100-percent lead-time reduction compared to others in the industry.”
“Jidoka shifts the focus onto the suppliers,” he says, “in an effort to develop a lean supply chain. We spend six weeks training each of our suppliers in lean practices, and then have a system in place to share any profits that result from the training. So far we have trained 12 suppliers, all over the world.”

Also explained by Golinelli was a newer initiative at the facility, the 2017-2021 Dalmine Lighthouse Plant Roadmap, aimed at using Industry 4.0 technology to develop a smart factory. Roadmap goals include several ”smart” concepts such as Smart Workplace, Smart Material Handling, Smart Ergonomics and Smart Training.

“The roadmap,” Golinelli says, “rests on several digital waves, including the virtual factory, automatic and autonomous flow, collaborative robots, predictive maintenance, digital supply chain, and zero defects.”

The Third Fabrication Shop

…on our tour, USI Italia, again relies on a Prima Power Night Train (434 storage shelves) to manage material flow to a sheetmetal production line that features a Shear Brilliance combination punching-shearing machine (turret capacity of 80 to 100 tools), and an Express Bender. The lineup enables the shop to efficiently manage the production of some 3000 part numbers, of which about one-third run through the Shear Brilliance, and then about half of those parts land on the worktable of the Express Bender.

“A noteworthy advantage of the Express Bender,” explained USI Italia representatives, “is the ability to bend in the positive and negative direction without turning the sheet. The machine is fast and accurate, providing us with a competitive edge in the market.”

Four Course/Prima Power metal additive manufacturing
As part of the Prima Power Innovation Day, which welcomed more than 160 guests from 20 countries, the firm revealed its new Prima Additive brand, and introduced its Print Sharp 250 laser powder-bed 3D metal-printing machine.

The company manufactures paint-spray booths and finishing systems for the automotive, aircraft and other industries, and its managers credit the Prima Power equipment lineup with boosting productivity and helping to control costs. The plant processed 2000 tons of steel in 2018 (0.8-3.0-mm thick, galvanized and pre-painted), and has experienced steady annual growth of 5 percent since 2014, and approximately 15 percent in 2018.

“Our spray booths cost as much as 30 percent less than those of our competitors in Germany,” we were told, “and at the same time we can turn around orders in as little as four weeks, a 50- to 100-percent lead-time reduction compared to others in the industry.”

New Laser-Based Technology Part of Innovation Day

Finally, our Italian tour-de-force included a visit to the Prima Power headquarters and Technology Center in Collegno, for an Innovation Day, welcoming more than 160 guests from 20 countries. Highlighting the event was the introduction of a new brand for the company, Prima Additive, focusing on innovative additive-manufacturing turnkey solutions. And, company officials debuted new laser-based, application-driven technologies for the aerospace sector, particularly for welding.

Prima Additive, we learned, will focus on the design, production and marketing of turnkey solutions for metal powder-bed fusion and directed-energy metal deposition (DED) technologies. Company chairman Gianfranco Carbonato called additive manufacturing the “third leg of laser innovation,” as he discussed the firm’s DED solutions based on its Laserdyne multiaxis processing systems, built on a vertical machining-center platform. Then came the big reveal, as Prima Additive introduced its Print Sharp 250 laser powder-bed machine, with a 200- or 500-W fiber laser and 250 by 250 by 300-mm build volume. Among key technical specs: 0.1-mm layer width, 0.02-0.1-mm layer thickness, and a build rate from 12 to 30 cm3/hr., depending on material type and part geometry.

Developed in partnership with Chinese company Shining 3D, the Print Sharp 250 represents “a fascinating new manufacturing paradigm, and we are ready to help our customers seize these business opportunities,” says Carbonato. MF

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, Blanking, Center, Edge, Forming, Grippers, LASER, Layer, Model, Prototype, Punch Press, Run, Thickness
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

 

See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.

Technologies: Cutting

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