Automating logistics to boost efficiency: a transformation of ABB’s instrumentation factory in Italy

Automating logistics to boost efficiency: a transformation of ABB’s instrumentation factory in Italy

ABB Measurement & Analytics has transformed the warehouse operations at its instrumentation factory in Ossuccio by introducing a fully automated storage and retrieval system.

From a manual activity to a fully automated solution with an ABB robot managing all warehouse loading and offloading activities, ABB Measurement & Analytics recently completed the transformation of the logistics operation in its instrumentation factory in Ossuccio. Eliminating manual handling has reduced the time required for final assembly by 30 percent and has led to a 90 percent enhancement in overall logistics efficiency.

The ABB Ossuccio factory is specialized in the production of pressure transmitters that enable industrial companies around the world to measure, monitor, and control applied force. Key for both safety and efficiency, pressure measurement is fundamental in industrial digital transformation. The factory located on Como Lake in Italy exports 90 percent of its production. 

The recent upgrade was aimed at improving logistics and achieving overall operational efficiency.  

“We wanted to improve logistics at the Ossuccio site as well as to enhance the entire manufacturing process,” said Mariafrancesca Madrigrano, General Manager of the ABB Measurement & Analytics factory. “We turned to our colleagues in ABB Robotics for a solution. They provided us with a system that both improves our processes and aligns with our future plans.” 

The solution consists of two ABB OmniVance™ FlexBuffer™ systems connected by a conveyor and each one equipped with ABB robots to enable efficient order handling. FlexBuffer allows for easy transitions between buffering, storing and sequencing tasks. It excels in efficiently combining temporary storage and sequencing functions, giving it a competitive edge over traditional systems. The mixed item variant of the Flexbuffer enables the user to store a wide variety of box sizes, all being handled with the same robot gripper. Because of the dynamic racking positions all boxes are stored with minimal loss in space. 

“What better way to demonstrate the effectiveness of ABB technology than by implementing it in an ABB factory,” said Eduardo de Robbio, Segment and Portfolio Manager of Consumer Industries, Robotics, ABB. “Comprised of an ABB robot, grippers and advanced software, the FlexBuffer technology enhances output and efficiency, addressing the ever-evolving business needs and changing customer demands. The ABB Ossuccio installation highlights the modularity of the FlexBuffer, which allows to appropriately satisfy the storage capacity required by the production plant.” 

Flexible and efficient operations   

FlexBuffer installations are simplified through a single software suite to enhance overall operational efficiency. The system digitally interfaces with various roles in factory planning and engineering departments.    

“Real-time tracking facilitates efficient planning and execution, complemented by diagnostics that provide valuable insights in case of operational challenges,” said Eduardo de Robbio.   

Process and cost optimization   

The integration of the ABB robot technology into the manufacturing process has substantially reduced operational costs, particularly in logistics.    

“Eliminating manual handling has streamlined continuous flow within production and has also reduced by 30 percent the time required for final assembly,” said Stefano Pizzetti, Factory Operations Manager. “This improvement is critical since the process handles one piece every three minutes. The system greatly improves our efficiency and operational timelines.” 

Space optimization is also a key achievement, contributing to enhanced efficiency and throughput. Benefits include a transparent and error-free process due to the integration with existing SAP software for improved traceability.   

Adoption of this system has enhanced working conditions for operators, alleviating the physical strain associated with manually handling heavy boxes.    

“This improves employee well-being and contributes to overall operational efficiency, helping us to create a positive workplace environment,” noted Madrigrano. 

Focus on continuous improvement   

Implementing the system has been key in the continuous improvement of processes at the factory.   

“By adopting this automation technology, we established the groundwork for continued innovations and efficiencies, helping us to better address specific customer requirements and ensure customer satisfaction,” said Madrigrano. 
“This investment is a testament to our commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.”  

The successful implementation of the system improved logistical processes and workforce dynamics. The FlexBuffer system both optimized operational continuity for operators and led to a 90 percent enhancement in logistics efficiency. Contrary to concerns about job reductions, the workforce was reallocated to areas that required additional manpower.    

“The positive impact is substantial,” noted Pizzetti. “It is obvious that the system improves speed and efficiency in our product delivery, positioning us as a reliable and advanced industry player.”  

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