Italian company Cosma designs and manufactures automatic machines for sheet metal cold working in the white goods and household appliances industry, fulfilling 95 percent of its production in-house. “We develop, partly patent and produce our machines in-house, in order to be the most innovative player in the market and closely meet customers’ needs,” says Fabrizio Beretta, Cosma Chief Engineer & Sales Manager.
Cosma manufactures customised automatic machines and complete lines for many of the world’s largest household appliance companies who produce refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. From its Vigevano headquarter, located near Pavia, in Northern Italy, Cosma exports its solutions all over the world, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to Africa.
“Our lines are designed to process metal sheets with thicknesses of between 0.35 and 1 mm. These lines satisfy the particularly demanding requirements of customers for highest productivity, maximum precision and quality, and to meet deadlines,” Marco Moretti, Cosma Head of Software & Hardware Development explains. Between April and December 2015, Cosma designed a new line for a customer based in Central America, to produce washing machines’ external chassis using a Rockwell Automation control and visualisation solution.
“The customer requested a 64-axes line featuring a 15-second cycle time. Thus, we needed a high performance and advanced automation architecture to control the main functionalities in the line,” Marco Moretti adds.
In this new Cosma 70 m-long line, metal sheets are automatically loaded, after being sliced and pre-painted (in white, red, grey or black). Successively, sheets are cut and bent along both their short and long sides. Each sheet is then bent into a U-shape and moved to the next station – using a suction-equipped manipulator – for automatic mounting of the back panel through a clinching and fastening system. The final line output comprises the finished chassis.
The line is designed to process 240 washing machines per hour, producing 1,800 pieces in each daily shift,” Marco Moretti says. In April 2015 Cosma started working with Rockwell Automation to design the automation architecture for its new line, selecting high-performing servo drives and motors, and the most advanced control and visualization technology. “We needed to achieve the highest line efficiency and an excellent accuracy in metal sheets handling and processing in the line,” Marco Moretti explains: “We manufactured a mono-brand line, which was equipped with Rockwell Automation components and solutions, in order to deliver a unique automation integrated platform for our customer.”
The Rockwell Automation solution for the new Cosma line included Allen-Bradley® Kinetix® 5700 (2198 Series) servo drives, Allen-Bradley MP-Series™ servo motors, Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® 525 AC drives, Allen-Bradley POINT I/O™ modules, Allen-Bradley ControlLogix® 1756 and GuardLogix® programmable automation controllers (PAC), Stratix™ 2000 Unmanaged switches, RSLinx Gateway and one Performance/Advanced 6181P industrial PC with an integrated 17” display. Devices and software applications in the line are connected through a standard EtherNet/IP™ communication network.
With support from Rockwell Automation, Cosma engineered a compact and versatile automation system, which broadly simplified motors coupling and axes interpolation functionalities. “In order to manage the 64-axes line architecture, we asked Rockwell Automation for advanced and integrated servo drive technology for complex applications, which the Kinetix 5700 delivers,” Moretti says. Thanks to its compact design and its easier programming approach through the Rockwell Software Studio 5000® Logix Designer software environment, Cosma saved even more space in the two lines’ electrical cabinets, as well.
Compact size and easier programming through Studio 5000 software also distinguished the ControlLogix 1756 PAC, which proved to be the perfect controller to manage complex machines. The Italian machine builder was able to connect the line directly and securely to the customer’s IT platform, bringing the Rockwell Automation Connected Enterprise vision to life.
Along with direct machine connectivity, the Cosma line puts into practice another aspect of the Connected Enterprise – mobility: parameters can be controlled through the MobileView™ 2711T operator panels too, including tethering functionality and 10’’ display.
Cosma considered the solution delivered by Rockwell Automation decisively scalable and versatile, which are key points for Cosma’s end customers.
“It happens frequently that customers ask us for machines performing 15-second cycle times and 90-degree metal sheet bending, yet afterwards they need to move – on the same machine – to more complex bending functionalities featuring the same cycle time. With the versatile control platform from Rockwell Automation, customers can adapt their machines to future production changes without modifying or re-designing the entire machine layout,” Moretti explains. “The Studio 5000 software suite, integrating motion and logic control programming, boosts the overall line efficiency. If necessary, the engineering team can add CPUs or replace stations just by disconnecting and reconnecting power and communication cables.”
With the new line, Cosma helped its customer to realize The Connected Enterprise. Machines from the production plant are connected to the end customer’s IT systems. The direct connectivity between Operations and IT departments simplifies the changing of metal sheet profiles and cutting or bending parameters. “For example, the end customer is now able to manage, directly in the line – from its ERP platform – specific labelling patterns required by sheets running into production,” Marco Moretti says. “Machine connectivity also helps in 24/7 remote assistance services.”
Cosma also benefited from Rockwell Automation global technical support in start-up and after-sales services. “We offer our end customers high-performing technologies and excellent pre- and after-sales services. At the same time, the Rockwell Automation team continues to support us long after our projects have been installed and commissioned. Together with our end users, we rely on their technical skills and on their spare parts availability even when lines are up and running,” Marco Moretti concludes.