The evolution of intralogistics is the driver of our future. Flexibility and integration are the answer to the rapid market changes.
End consumer needs, through e-commerce, have shifted the focus from production processes to the entire business, where distribution and intralogistics play a fundamental role.
Therefore, manufacturers are called upon to rethink and re-engineer the entire factory and distribution center with flexible, safe and sustainable solutions easy to use and capable of quick reconfigurations.
“The smart management of intralogistics flows and the ability to adapt to the changes by monitoring and analyzing information in real time are now strategic elements for all businesses,” Andrea DelGrosso, Executive Vice President for Sales & Strategy of E80 Group & CEO of Elettric80 GMEA explains. “There is a lot of room for improvement in this area. Over the last twenty years, the focus has mainly been on production lines efficiency. While excellent results have been achieved, the technology is nowadays pretty much mature. Today, competitiveness is playing out almost exclusively in intralogistics and distribution, where there is an immense potential considering we are just at the beginning.”
We are talking about a radical transformation called Industry 4.0 that impacts not only the business, but the society as a whole.
Andrea DelGrosso adds, “It impacts the entire value chain with its ability to interconnect and make all resources to cooperate. E80 Group has been a pioneer in innovative solutions, developing the first fully automated and integrated Factory 4.0 back in 1992.”
Sustainability, safety, interconnection, traceability and customer service are the key pillars of E80 Group’s solutions. With their farsighted vision, founder and President Enrico Grassi and Vice President Vittorio Cavirani started it all in 1980.
As of today, the Italy-based multinational has completed nearly 300 Smart Factories worldwide, installed over 2000 robotic systems, more than 5000 automatic laser-guided vehicles and, since 2016, 35 automated high-density warehouses.
In addition to hardware systems, E80 Group has developed the SM.I.LE80 (Smart Integrated Logistics) software platform that manages all systems and interfaces with pre-existing ones. “It is the conductor that orchestrates the plant and optimizes all operations, from the reception of raw materials to storage and shipment, ensuring complete handled-product traceability and integrating the various systems,” President Grassi explains. “Our 24/7 digital consulting and support services ensure the highest levels of innovation, reliability, and reduced margins of error over time.”
Furthermore, with the primary objective of always being close to customers, E80 Group has opened 13 branches in various countries.
Intelligence And Flexibility Inside The Box
Automated warehouses capable of ensuring high safety and productivity standards are key systems in Industry 4.0. “Storage is crucial for integrating the intralogistics flows of factories and distribution centers because it ensures the best handled-product traceability. We have been installing innovative and tailor-made warehousing systems for greenfield and brownfield plants worldwide for years, helping companies to achieve their goals and maintain performance through consultancy and assistance services,” President Grassi clarifies. E80 Group designs high-density automatic warehouses and numerous storage solutions that are capable of increasing storage density as well as the availability and selectivity of raw materials and finished products. Such results are achieved by exploiting the perfectly integrated management of LGVs that are fitted with induction-charged lithium batteries, and by interconnecting all intralogistics systems with production.
“The main factor that differentiates us from our competitors is how we move the products to and from automated warehouses.
Looking to the future must be a priority for every company and safety is no longer an option
Most of the solutions on the market handle goods through hundreds of meters of conveyor belts or vehicles moving on tracks. This creates a rigid system that is binding and penalizing in terms of energy consumption. By using various types of automatic laser-guided vehicles managed by the SM.I.LE80 software platform, E80 Group moves all the products with no fixed constraints and without closing off passages or areas, thus allowing for easy adaptation to changes in flows, routes, and missions, and reducing energy consumption by more than one-third compared to traditional systems,” Cavirani continues.
Another important benefit is the consulting service provided to customers. “We own a discrete-event simulation software called Smart Designer, modeled and integrated according to the intralogistics management principles required by the customer. It is an essential tool for designing future operating scenarios and identifying the right intralogistics solution for both existing plants and greenfields,” Andrea DelGrosso adds. “This empowers us to optimize processes in plants considering all variables with more than 95% reliability rate.”
Another key service that E80 Group offers is factory virtualization, making use of three-dimensional scanning technology. “Its use is becoming standard in all our installations and provides several advantages in the design phase of a storage system,” Cavirani contributes. “By digitizing the environment, we overcome the limitations of traditional surveying by developing and implementing our systems virtually. In this way, we can gain a full understanding of the spaces through models that reflect reality so that we can anticipate any problems that may arise during system installation. For instance, we intervene by homing in and working only on targeted points of the floor and this drastically reduces costs.”
Sustainable And Safe Smart Factories
Sustainability is a value that we share with customers, partners and employees by promoting the adoption of good business practices that aim to achieve sustainable growth and profitability goals with a positive impact on people and the environment. We strive to be a regenerative company that creates value inside and outside our Group. We think, we design, we manufacture, we install and we support in a sustainable way,” Grassi and Cavirani explain. “We take care of the environment right from the design stage”, Andrea DelGrosso adds. “We carefully select materials, investing in solutions capable of minimizing environmental impact, both during manufacturing and assembling and during installation at the customer’s premises. Over the last three years, we have reduced internal energy consumption by 19%, processing waste by 13%, noise pollution by 7% and production and assembly times by 23%. All this while our business has grown year after year. The philosophy that guides our actions and the technologies that we adopt offer end-to-end solutions that significantly contribute to reduce carbon footprint and eliminate errors, damages and accidents”.
Above all, sustainable Smart Factories also mean safe Smart Factories.
“The integration of all processes with our latest technologies transform our customers’ factories into a safe environment, while ensuring maximum flexibility, full traceability and the highest efficiency. First of all, we develop smart systems that raise the safety standards inside the plants, meeting and exceeding the international standards established by the regulations in force. We design tailor-made layouts for each plant, we train all personnel to keep their skills up-to-date, and we use data analysis to monitor all operations in real-time. Investing in safety is no longer an option: It is a top priority for any company looking to the future”, DelGrosso explains.
Another highlight is the 24/7 remote assistance service. Currently, 93% of requests from customers all over the world are managed remotely from the Viano, Italy, headquarters. “This ensures the continuity of all customer activities around the world”, DelGrosso specifies. “On-site interventions by our technical staff have been limited and dropped by 40% since 2015. The result is much higher reliability, no production and distribution stops, less engineers traveling so less use of aircraft and vehicles and, therefore, lower CO2 emissions. Customer service activity optimization also ensures a better quality of life for our employees and, in general, cleverer management of time and resources”.