Modular, Connected and Interactive: It’s Manual Assembly 4.0

The partnership between STILL, a major global player in the field of integrated logistics, and Bosch Rexroth dates back to 2014, with the target to increase digitalization of production processes according to Industry 4.0. Within STILL production site in Luzzara (RE), Bosch Rexroth is the actual
reference supplier as for the projects aimed at assisting and guiding operators working in manual assembly station.

by Sebastiano Mainarda

STILL offers a wide range of products that consist of 60 different models that can tend to different operational needs: from counterbalanced electric and thermal trucks up to 8 tons to hand pallet trucks, from complex three-way trucks for intensive warehouses to tractors. These products are available both to purchase and to rental, a business formula that is always more appreciated by customers that look for flexibility and up-to-date solutions. Figures confirm that: STILL had more than 20,000 forklifts rented out Italy-wide.
“We are innovators by tradition”, said Loreno Leri, Head of Marketing at STILL Italia. “In 1945, we launched the EK 2000, a revolutionary electric pallet truck at the time; from that moment STILL has always been looking for innovative technologies such as the hybrid propulsion, a technology that only recently started to spread in the automotive industry. Our commitment to the development of new sustainable solutions is one of our founding pillars that made the ‘Mission Zero Emission’ our motto”.

The commitment on safety
Another important value on which STILL is at the forefront of is safety. All the forklift models and warehouse machines have the possibility to install prevention systems, such as side containment bars to install when the cabin is absent or sensors on the safety bells.
Forklifts can be equipped with active systems that can directly interact with the machines: devices for obstacle detection, speed reduction when special work environment requires it or people detection in the established work area of the forklift. STILL also offers passive systems, which instead must be activated by the driver: acoustic and optical alarms, cameras and lasers that help the operator in the positioning for loading and unloading, or systems that allow to avoid lifting too weight and rise excessive heights.

The partnership looks at Industry 4.0
STILL has been developing “4.0” solutions for years and many projects are already underway in these business segments: complex warehouse trucks, shelving, warehouse software, horizontal logistics solutions, automation and consulting. In this scenario of innovation towards the Industry 4.0, STILL decided to establish a strong partnership with Bosch Rexroth in order to completely renovate the manual workstations of the new assembly line.
After careful analysis of the competitors’ offers, STILL has chosen Bosch Rexroth for its production plant in Luzzara (RE): among the main factors that have led to its preference over other companies, there is the ability to offer a rich package of solutions already in the catalogue and the possibility of reducing operating hours, industrializing the production line.
Bosch Rexroth is right now the reference supplier for all the projects involving the creation of customized aluminium structures for workstations and related equipment.

The intelligent system that guides manual assembly operators
Through a free configurable software, ActiveAssist creates a real dialogue between the assembly stations and the virtual sphere. Sensors, touchscreens, cameras and projectors help the ActiveAssist to precisely guide the employees through the various phases of operation, enabling numerous assembly tasks. As a matter of fact, the system meets the requirements expressed by STILL when it comes to guide operators that have to pick the right materials for a given type of cart.
As an alternative option to conventional pick to light systems, ActiveAssist offers many advantages: flexibility (the system increases and reduces the number, size and quantity of materials on the assembly line), an easier programming directly by the end user, and other additional functions (not only concerning stock pick-up controls, but also work cycle controls).
“We are very satisfied with this partnership” affirmed Massimo Zucchelli and Daniele Aleotti, respectively Industrial Engineering Manager and Industrial Engineer of STILL Italia in Luzzara. “We chose the ActiveAssist system because it responds to our need to have an intelligent system that is able to guide the operators in selecting the right material for the right type of truck, reducing human errors and simplifying the management of the material of the whole assembly line”.