Pit Stops Make the Difference (Even in Assembly)

Just like in a Formula 1 Grand Prix, a company’s competitiveness today depends also on the “pit stops”, that is to day in the management of downtime. Once again this year, Cosberg is taking part in SPS, the Italian trade fair for the technologies dealing with the 4.0 factory, with a 128 square metres booth, a machine – almost 12 m long – that manufactures small electric devices and several new products gathered in a path thought for visitors that describes a precise vision, based on factory monitoring, predictive maintenance, augmented and virtual reality, attention to design, services and so on.

by Giorgia Stella

The very first stage of the path thought by Cosberg for SPS Italia concerns an innovative monitoring system: a single integrated solution that makes it possible to keep an eye in real time on the entire company or just some specific machines. A preview of the software was already introduced in 2018: this year, the Bergamo-based company presents the final version, featured by a new, user-friendly and intuitive graphic interface.
Through the use of a cloud-based solution, a factory monitoring situation will be simulated. The system will show, in real-time, the data related to two plants: the one physically present at the stand and a real one, located at a customer’s and in full production activity. Visitors will then be able to see the simplicity and potential of this solution that, arisen from the collaboration with the start-up Miraitek, a spin-off of Politecnico di Milano, allows users to get and process data on an entire plant or a single machine, collecting information from each station.

Data to enable essential services
Not only that: in the future, the system will be able to monitor the single modules that make it, with the aim of implementing real predictive maintenance. The software can also be viewed remotely through several devices: PCs, tablets, smartphones and, soon, also smartwatches. Modular and flexible, it allows each user to view only what is really important and to access certain features based on the profile that has been assigned. “The advantages are manifold, for both plant manufacturers and customers”, explains Michele Viscardi, Business Development Director at Cosberg.
“Let’s start with us, plant manufacturers. The system allows us to collect and manage the data necessary to enable a series of services that are now essential, including, for example, remote analysis and support in the event of anomalies, programming of ordinary maintenance, trend statistics and possible improvement proposals. Moreover, a tool like this, capable of providing objective data already in the testing phase, allows users to immediately define the parameters with which to assess the success of their work and, above all, to identify objectively any inefficiencies. Another very important aspect concerns the collection, storage and analysis of data: anyone can see figures and information collected over time and process them to make statistics, analyse situations, identify any problems. For us, this part is crucial, as it allows us to objectively assess any criticalities found by customers on our products, which deserve to be investigated in depth to avoid problems”.

Reporting problems, avoiding downtime
What are, then, the advantages for customers? “Our customers – continues Mr Viscardi – can keep an eye on the progress of the machines in real time to prevent any anomalies that would cause them to stop or rather to intervene promptly, and appropriately, in the event of an alarm. In fact, the good functioning and reliability of the plant are also protected by a new functionality that automatically reports, through some warnings, potential problems that have to be solved as soon as possible to prevent the production cycle from stopping. In addition, it is essential to have constant feedback on the plant efficiency, especially for professionals such as Production Managers, CEOs or Plant Managers. In this case, efficiency means a ‘global’ index that takes into account the quality of the assembled products, the productivity of the machines and their actual availability. All these values are collected by the system as pure data and their processing – which also involves other variables – is then displayed as a percentage”.

Improve machine design and functionality
Back to the booth, the second stage is about a more concrete aspect of Cosberg machines, namely the design. Aware that the evolution should proceed on both a physical and a virtual/digital level, the company has invested in a research aimed at improving the design and functionality of our machines. A scale model of the new design concept, developed by a professional, will be exhibited at SPS. The project, still in its early stage, represents the way towards the supply of even more ergonomic products, able to guarantee also a strong characterization the context in which they are inserted.
A corner of the stand will then be devoted to augmented and virtual reality, technologies on which Cosberg relies heavily to enhance and make more efficient the design stages, the training of operators and maintenance activities. Augmented reality would allow any operator – regardless of the training received – to carry out tasks quickly and effectively, promptly preventing or solving any critical issues. Through virtual reality, on the other hand, it is possible to have a “virtual copy” of the machine, with which to train new operators without interrupting production.
‘Ready To Run’: competitiveness first
Some more institutional features on the booth will be useful to describe the sectors in which Cosberg works (automotive, furniture accessories, electrical, electronic, healthcare, cosmetics, household and household appliances, eyewear, jewellery, watchmaking, fashion accessories) and the real benefits for customers. An area will be devoted to guaranteed services and skills for each system: installation in just two days, ramp-up in no more than four hours, production change in no more than 30 minutes, easy and fast maintenance, objective and productive testing, delivery only through traditional transport, total reliability. “These are concrete and measurable advantages for the customer in terms of competitiveness, as they allow to reduce time and costs and increase productivity. We have brought them together under the slogan ‘Ready To Run’, a concept that is very important within our vision. We explain it by using a metaphor. In our opinion, a company’s competitiveness is played out today in ‘pit stops’, just like in a Formula 1 Grand Prix, where victory or defeat is determined during these stops. Here, it is essential that the mechanical intervention and tyre change take place in the shortest possible time. In the same way, it is vital to standardize as much as possible our machines and to study systems that may minimize production and maintenance changeover times, thus allowing our customers to win their Grand Prix”, says Cosberg’s Business Development Director in the end.