During an event addressed to the press, AutomationWare presented the new production site in Maerne di Martellago (VE). An area of 5,000 square meters thought for lean and digitized production that will strongly focus not only on linear axes and electric actuators – the company’s current strengths – but also on the development of tailor-made robotic solutions: SCARA systems as well as, in the near future, collaborative robots.
by Fabrizio Dalle Nogare
Officially, on March 22nd AutomationWare introduced to the press the new plant in Maerne di Martellago, in the province of Venice: an area of more than 5,000 square meters, entirely wired with optical fibre and therefore ready to host an actual digital factory.
Truthfully, the event soon turned into an interesting debate on issues such as technological evolution, macroeconomics, sustainability, future.
All this thanks to Fabio Rossi, CEO of AutomationWare – at the helm of the company together with the president, Roberto Signoretto – who, as a good host, illustrated AutomationWare’s evolutionary process, in which the change of headquarters is only the first step. “We believe a lot in young people, in knowledge sharing and above all in the quality of the products we manufacture. Today, in Italy as well as all over the world, we are witnessing some trends that will certainly have relevant effects on our business.
Namely, the growing attention on energy saving and sustainability of production or the return of production sites in the countries of origin – the well-known re-shoring – which implies the need to build technologically advanced factories to keep up with the times”. All this means a rapidly changing production scenario, defined perhaps a little too hastily as “5.0”, but certainly characterized by an increasingly close relationship between humans and machines. So, while machines and robots must be able to interact safely with operators, the latter are called upon to develop increasingly specific skills to manage and oversee the various production stages.
A mechatronic company ahead of its time
AutomationWare was founded in 2002 and specializes in the production of advanced mechatronic systems, thanks to a long-lasting experience in the making of electronically-controlled linear and rotary actuators.
A mechatronic company ahead of its time, in short. “Electric actuators have quite a higher initial cost compared to pneumatic or hydraulic solutions – explains Mr Rossi – however they guarantee manifold benefits, including high precision, reduced maintenance requirements, repeatability, efficiency and respect for the environment.
The statistics tell us that Italy is a long way behind other countries in terms of the spread of electric actuators, but we are quite sure that such a gap can be reduced.
So far, the market share of electric actuators in Italy compared to the total of actuators sold does not exceed 7%, compared to 35% in Germany, 29% in the United Kingdom, 25% in Spain and 20% in France.
AutomationWare’s strong specialisation in the development of mechatronic solutions, including tailor-made ones, has made it possible to manufacture products such as linear axes, linear and rotary actuators or electric cylinders capable of supporting even very high dynamic loads (for instance, the Mech Extreme series, see box) or rather SCARA robots developed starting from the requirements of a very important customer in the eyewear sector.
The new plant, equipped with production machines compliant with Industry 4.0 as well as IoT control systems, relies on state-of-the-art automatic storage equipment and modern CNC machines to achieve the highest throughput in the manufacturing of semi-finished products to be integrated on actuators with linear or rotary drives as well as robotic systems.
Manufacturers of tailor-made collaborative robotics
In the future of AutomationWare, in fact, there will be more and more room for robots and robotic systems (robo-kits). Starting from a key element on which, perhaps, we do not dwell enough. “At SPS Italia we will put on display our new series of robotic couplings, which we have developed relying on our expertise in mechatronic and focusing on made-in-Italy and high quality electronic components”, says Fabio Rossi. “We can consider couplings as the heart of the robot: a component featured by quite a high complexity in terms of design that is supposed to enable the robot movements. Starting from this component, and since the second half of this year, we aim to create our first models of collaborative robots”. AutomationWare will therefore enter a not-so-simple market, which already sees the presence of many players. The company definitely focuses on the growth potential that the forecasts assign to this type of robot. A potential that is not however limited to the strictly industrial context. “Our idea is to launch on the market tailor-made collaborative robots, which may adapt to the requirements of customers”, points out the CEO of AutomationWare. “These will be made in Italy and will feature high-quality components, starting of course from the couplings, as well as a competitive price”. As for the safety issue, a key aspect indeed to give a further boost to the spread of cobots, AutomationWare has developed a software, named SafeVu™, based on radar technology for controlling the robot movements and managing its interaction with operators.