In building an assembly line, Primon Automazioni wanted to switch from pneumatic to fully electric automation: the combination of compact axes and the performance of the next-generation Festo drive proved perfect
Many system integrators are debating whether or not to use electric axes instead of conventional pneumatic actuators. A strategy which Primon Automazioni has been pursuing for some time now, obtaining important results in terms of reliability, flexibility and modularity. Established in the ‘70s following an entrepreneurial idea by Vittorino Primon, it immediately specialized in the design and construction of electric control panels for local industrial machinery companies. Today it can claim 1,200 systems installed all over the world: automatic assembly machines which comply with European safety standards as well as the indications of the Industry 4.0 plan. The logic of the rotating table has always been the crowning glory of the assembly machines designed by Primon Automazioni, which led it to become one of the first European companies specialized in the production of wheels for supermarket trolleys. In the 90s the company faced another challenge in an unknown market: the assembly of faucets.
Fulvio Primon, son of the founder, told us: “From the design standpoint and in terms of the automations used, the challenge was won, so much so that we went from faucets to valves. Over time we have structured the company more and more, also strengthening our technical department with modern CAD design systems”.
Making custom machines relying on trusted suppliers
From supplying automatic machines for the Italian market, the company has moved towards other foreign countries, in particular Germany, where today it exports 50% of the automatic machines it produces. “Our job is to automate production processes – Fulvio Primon continued. “When there is a need to produce a component in series, especially when it comes to faucets, valves, wheels and supports, handles and locks, our technical department can field all the experience acquired over many years and develop cutting-edge and fully efficient solutions. We are definitely oriented towards the development of tailor-made machines, that is, designed on the basis of the customer’s needs and with a strong customization”.
Primon Automazioni is a system integrator. This means being an expert connoisseur of the many automation solutions on the market in order to develop synchronous and asynchronous pallet transfer lines, rotating tables, sealing test islands, robotized assembly and testing islands. In addition to these, there are also automatic servo drives for production lines, multi-component assembly systems, vision systems and marking stations.
Fundamental for this activity was the establishment of partnerships with suppliers such as Festo, in order to develop manipulators or rotating tables using the best of technology. A collaboration that focuses on high productivity, reduced production costs and tailored customisation, involving flexibility in format changeover, simple maintenance including remote servicing and, above all, reliability.
A 2.5 second part cycle
The latest machine that Primon Automazioni built is a line to assemble a hydraulic connector for automotive applications. It consists of several assembly stations with a cycle able to produce one part every 2.5 s. The machine is completely controlled remotely, where each piece is verified, but the peculiarity of this line is that it produces about thirty different configurations of connectors. Starting from the first loading station of the main body of the connector, an anthropomorphic robot with automatic optical control system picks the piece from a bulk container and places it precisely on the line. All subsequent stations are equipped with Festo electric axes and brushless motors. The use of these solutions has made it possible to meet the customer’s requirements and to have a machine with modern and easily remodelled solutions.The machine has in memory the programs of all connector configurations. Depending on the part being loaded, the line is set automatically by adjusting all the manipulator strokes. To obtain this flexibility, Primon Automazioni performed a very important job at software level to guarantee user friendly handling for the operator. Moreover, in case the machine should undergo technical updates for the normal evolution of the components, in a short time it is possible to update its operation via software to keep it always in perfect operating efficiency.
Entering the digital age for remote management
Festo is one of the leading suppliers of electromechanical axes. With the release of the new Festo Automation Suite platform as early as 2018, and new solutions such as the CMMT drive for EMMS-ST and brushless EMMT-AS stepper motors, the company intends to lead the technological evolution alongside its partners. Primon Automazioni’s strategic vision towards a fully electric automation has found full support in the combination of the new ELGC/EGSC compact axes and the performance of the new CMMT drive. This is combined with the entry into the digital era through the collection, monitoring and analysis of data made available by the CMMT drive by means of its perfect integration with host systems. For Primon Automazioni remote management and remote assistance are a consolidated practice. Using the Festo Automation Suite platform enables the constant monitoring of assembly line operation and adjustment without having to be physically present on site. “This is a technical solution which we used with good results in several of our projects,” Fulvio Primon explained. “In addition to the technology itself, it has allowed us to provide the end user with all the machine’s production information or, vice versa, to receive the data to be transferred to the machine to make it work according to the customer’s needs”. A clear example of how digitization in the industrial field allows to optimize and simplify work in every phase of the process.