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Task: The implementation of an IoT production system that would incorporate all phases of work required to make die-cast aluminium enclosures for a major company serving the electrical sector. A central part of the project objective was to produce a transfer machine capable of working without supervision and producing up to 80 different product lines.

Solution: The installation integrates various machines, including flexible transfer to 10 stations and five robots - FANUC M-20iA/20M, M-10iA/10MS and M-10iA/10M models - involved in automating all phases of the process. Control is via two FANUC 30i-B Plus NC units.

Result: The system designed by Gnutti enables the customer to produce parts from cassette to cassette fully automatically and safely, thus contributing to consistently shorter lead times. Notably, the unit architecture is flexible and allows the rapid reconfiguration of set-ups.

Every workshop dreams of fully vertical, automated and integrated parts production, ensuring maximum reliability and flexibility, together with the potential for remote supervision and control of the entire process. Thanks to the skill and experience of Gnutti Transfer, a beacon of Italian industrial excellence, the dream has become reality. The Brescia-based business has, in fact, designed and implemented a production system that integrates various machines and five robots, with a flexible Gnutti GR-MR transfer system at its heart. The production unit and robots are under the full control of NC technology provided by FANUC, Gnutti’s long-standing partner for the development of value-added projects.

Excellence in the world of transfer

In 1955, Quirino Gnutti established Gnutti Transfer in Brescia for the construction of lathes and transfer machines. Over the years, the business has grown and evolved, integrating new flexible, modular and innovative concepts, while paying particular attention to machine design and production sustainability.

At the helm of the business today is Quirino's son, Renato Gnutti, currently company president and CEO. For 65 years, Gnutti Transfer has been synonymous with high levels of specialisation, precision and reliability. The company produces flexible bar turning transfer machines for the specialist machining of ferrous and non-ferrous materials, all customised and targeted to sectors that include plumbing, automotive, petrochemical, security and medical. Every year, Gnutti Transfer dispatches 35-40 machines from its Ospitaletto facility. With a turnover of €50 million and 220 employees, the company exports machines to 80 countries around the world.

Gnutti Transfer is a highly vertical business. Unlike other transfer machine manufacturers, we are the only one with an integrated mechanical workshop” emphasises , Strategic Business Development Manager.

For us, this is a huge strength, because we can control the entire production process from project launch, right through to its conclusion. We don’t rely on suppliers or subcontractors, and even at peak production times we succeed in managing the quality of our output effectively and efficiently.

The company offers a 360° service, in pre-sales and after sales, always with the aim of prioritising and fully satisfying customer requirements. In fact, Gnutti Transfer has a dedicated service unit that has been supporting customers for more than 10 years, as well as a research and development division.

Technological partner supporting ambitious projects

We sell technology and consider our suppliers to be true technological partners” continues Benedetta Gnutti.

An important selection criteria when Gnutti Transfer initiates its partner accreditation process is the level of after-sales support available throughout the world.

In exporting machines worldwide and producing systems dedicated to high-volume output, we need to guarantee prompt response times whenever a problem is identified” says Benedetta Gnutti. Efficient and meticulous service is therefore a fundamental requirement.

Another key criterion for accreditation is MTBF (mean time between failures). This index is an important parameter in specifying product or process reliability and is one of the benchmark KPIs (key performance indicators) in optimising a company’s OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) or production efficiency. FANUC’s MTBF achieves a level in excess of 99% efficiency.

“These are the reasons why we have chosen FANUC. Without forgetting the importance of human capital, which is priceless for us, both internally at Gnutti Transfer and in our working relationships with suppliers."

Collaboration between Gnutti and FANUC has been ongoing for 21 years and has seen the two companies combine their respective skills to implement large-scale projects and technical solutions. Their joint experience has enabled them to build a significant history in troubleshooting. This expertise is a very useful characteristic for Gnutti Transfer as it provides awareness of the potential advantages and problems that could lie in wait when devising a new machine.

As production scenarios evolve towards increasingly complex dynamics, Gnutti Transfer leverages its considerable expertise – garnered over many decades – to overcome the technological challenges. Collaboration with strategic partners like FANUC provides indispensable added value.

From raw to finished part (cassette to cassette) - fully automated

The task for Gnutti Transfer involved the creation of a highly automated production unit that could incorporate all phases of work required to make die-cast aluminium cases for a prominent company serving the electrical sector. Of particular note, the plant had to run unsupervised and offer easy remote management. To meet the required cycle times, the system had to produce the entire product catalogue using high-speed equipment.

Gnutti Transfer designed an installation capable of satisfying all of the customer’s requirements. The system incorporates various machines, central to which is flexible transfer to 10 stations and five robots - FANUC M-20iA/20M, M-10iA/10MS and M-10iA/10M models – that automate all phases of the process. Control is via two FANUC 30i-B Plus NC units. 

The project was highly complex, as Gnutti Transfer's Sales Area Manager, Giovanni Gualco explains: “The customer’s objective was to begin with raw parts in a cassette and end with finished parts back in the cassette in a single cycle.” 
 
At the start of the process, loading is via the automatic recognition, division and control of cassette parts, before the each component passes through a control station for laser marking. The transfer machine then performs machining operations prior to extraction for washing. After washing to remove any residue, the system returns parts to the cassette.
 
Robots are present in all phases, with a total of five articulated robotic arms: one robot equipped with a vision system takes raw parts from the cassette and places them on a conveyor that feeds the laser machine for marking; a second robot takes the components from the laser marker and loads them into the transfer machine; a third robot unloads the transfer machine and places the parts in an intermediate station; a fourth robot loads the components into the washer; and finally, a fifth robot takes the parts from the washer and places them back in the cassette, ready for automatic relay to assembly.

The benefit to the customer is that this unit provides a fully vertical process with no operators and complete safety,” says Giovanni Gualco.

Reliable, high-performance technological solutions

The transfer machine is part of Gnutti Transfer's GR-MR flexible transfer range. It consists of 10 stations with 11 operating units mounted on a crossbar and comprises 45 axes controlled in a single process, with a cycle time of barely 8 seconds. All 33 linear axes and 10 rotating axes are equipped with FANUC motorisation featuring digital drives and fibre optic connections.

The unit can accommodate up to 80 different parts, with set-up times for the whole system (machine and robots) of less than 20 minutes. If the machine stops, it is possible to reset the entire production unit at the push of a button.
 
The complexity of the project and high number of controlled axes required a huge investment in time and human resource. Involving a strategic partner like FANUC has essentially been the key to a winning technological contribution. “Strategic because FANUC is the only company able to support us in project as complex as this; winning because FANUC's technology delivers perfect system functionality,” states Giovanni Gualco.
 
Achieving this result required more than 3000 hours of planning and design, applying a lean approach to the system.
 
FANUC’s 30i-B Plus CNC made it possible to improve transfer performance in terms of machining and cycle times, thanks largely to a new CPU that facilitates better process management. With FANUC's powerful control, the transfer is able to produce a finished part in just 8 seconds.

 

The strengths of this system are flexibility and integration,” continues Giovanni Gualco. Flexibility, because machining is possible for every part in the catalogue; the customer can also produce smaller batches of 500-1000 parts, with the advantage of adapting the set-up and rapidly re-tooling the machine. Integrating the control of the 45 axes and five robots was facilitated by automation solutions from FANUC, a company that produces both numerical controls and robots.
 
We chose FANUC for their expertise, support and technology,” says Giovanni Gualco. “FANUC is the only supplier with the expertise necessary to help us achieve this result.” 

Remote management

The unit is Industry 4.0-certified: the chucks and all parts are fitted with sensors that analyse the data relating to the unit's functionality. An industrial PC is completely dedicated to managing the machine and controlling more than 12,000 variables, which enables the customisation of functionality that ranges from preventive/predictive maintenance to regulating process parameters. The customer can log in remotely, supervise the machine, start cycles and amend the entire system’s configuration to execute various types of processing.

In total, the unit features around 25,000 components, circa 40 km of wires and cables, and occupies a floor space of 120 m², all of which involves extreme integration complexity. Guaranteeing perfect functionality is a real challenge, making reliability an essential prerequisite. Thankfully, the appointment of FANUC to the project enabled Gnutti Transfer to focus entirely on project development, without having to worry about reliability issues.