Hiwin’s acknowledged specialization in the development of both mechanical and mechatronic motion control solutions is indeed an important plus on the market and explains to a large extent the growth experienced by the Italian branch in the latest years. In view of the near future, increasingly innovative products, customer support, customization options and a new plant, which will soon be established in Cavenago (MB), are on the way. We talked about all this with Hiwin Italia managers and engineers.
by Sergio Soriano
Steady growth, component integration, company organization, market, products. Our journey to the world of Hiwin Italia, the Italian branch of the Taiwanese company specializing in motion control components, has touched several topics and opened more than one glimpse into the company’s strategies for the near future. Because, even though Hiwin has been present in our country for less than 6 years, it has put much more than one foot on the market with a wide range of products and solutions aimed above all, but not only, at machine manufacturers. Including the assembly field.
“The exponential increase in our turnover is due to the ability showed by the company in the field of both mechanical solutions and mechatronic components. Therefore, products aimed at industrial automation”, explains Massimo Malagoli, Supervisor Area at Hiwin Italia. “Our ambition is to diversify our business, so that we can be recognized by our customers as a unique partner, able to provide different solutions, which we put under the name of Total Solution. It is not easy, we believe, to find a company on the market that is so highly specialized in both the mechanical and mechatronic components”.
In this scenario, the role of the System Division – the company division dedicated to the production of tailor-made products obtained by integrating manifold standard components – plays a key role, as confirmed by Mr Malagoli. “The System Division makes a decisive contribution to the company growth, as it allows us to provide dedicated solutions, combining our standard products with the specific needs of the customers. We consider it a true flagship and we believe that it can give us that very important added value to make a difference in the market”.
The specific needs of assembly and packaging machines manufacturers
A market that has not been easy to approach, especially at the beginning of the activity of the Italian branch. “The most difficult step was actually the initial one – confirms the Supervisor Area – that is to say to have our products tested by those customers who used to rely on other solutions. In this sense, some factors were very important, starting with the availability of material in stock and the ability that our engineering department has to support the customer in the choice of the right components. I can say that the Hiwin products are high-quality ones.
“Another factor that makes the difference is the willingness to create customized solutions, then not only offering standard components, especially with regard to guides and screws,” adds Technical Engineer Andrea Calloni, to whom we also ask what is the penetration of Hiwin products in highly specialized areas such as those of packaging or assembly machines. “Hiwin components are having a great use on this type of machines, and we expect an increase in sales and production also driven by innovations, which affect both the mechanical and electronic parts. Also in this case, the most evident trend concerns the customization requests made by the customers: some of them focus on higher speeds, others on accuracy, some others on the reduction of the machine cost. For these reasons, Hiwin is investing in new types of products that may join the more traditional and widespread ones on the market”.
Communicating the benefits of mechatronics
An example? “Let’s take the rotary tables”, explains Mr Calloni. “Many customers, especially in assembly, employ tradizional, mechanically-driven rotary tables. The habit of mechanical components discourages in some cases the transition to mechatronics. To overcome this resistance, you need to be able to communicate the benefits of mechatronics. In this case, rotary tables may be much more flexible, programmable and it is sometimes possible to use a single table for machining operations that previously required more than one”.
Another good example is that of linear motors, which, according to Hiwin Italia’s Technical Engineer, require “significantly reduced maintenance compared to an axis with a traditional motor. The highest initial investment is, therefore, absorbed over time, also because those who buy a machine do not do it to use the machine for a short time. Being aware they have reduced the need for component maintenance is quite an important lever in this regard. The incentives of the Industry 4.0 Plan have greatly helped those who wanted to try innovative solutions, thus investing in new technologies”.
Several new products introduced this year
However, the main ground for competition in the market is that of products. And there are many new features that Hiwin has introduced this year at the exhibitions in which the company has participated. “In our opinion, Datorker harmonic gearing systems are indeed the future of industry, which is increasingly related to robotics and automation”, comments Technical Engineer Gabriele Frasca. “These components are indispensable, for example, in the design of medium-large size manipulators. The gearboxes use a very advanced technology that allows them to achieve high performance in terms of positioning, efficiency and high torsional rigidity. Also in the case of gearboxes, and following our philosophy in terms of flexibility, we can provide a certain level of customization. In this regard, we believe that customization is a very important requirement in the field of ballscrews: we receive technically challenging requests to adapt the shape or geometry of the nut, as well as the strictly mechanical performance of the nut itself”.
Another product line on which the company has focused this year is the RG Series of linear guides, which features a roller as a rolling element instead of steel balls. The RG series has a contact angle of 45 degrees, provides high levels of rigidity and load capacity, as well as high precision production and longer life. Speaking of mechatronics, Hiwin electric grippers are suitable for use in collaborative applications. “We already have interesting feedback in this respect”, adds Mr Frasca. “Ease of programming, together with the low weight of the components and the geometry that adapts perfectly to the requirements of collaboration, are some more key features”.