High degree of automation in the presentation of the Comau Smart PAL 260 applied in end of line palletizing processes. (video: Comau)
High degree of automation for the italian pasta manufacturer Pastificio Ghigi, an established company that has had an important role in the history of its industry.
Originally based in Morciano di Romagna (Rn), the company provided work for Italian wheat producers from Romagna (and not only) for more than 130 years by buying their raw materials, and for operators in the sector who produced pasta during the same period.
From the crisis in 2007, the massive use of technology and industrial automation for the second life
However, faced with crisis in 2007, the company was forced to close. In the late spring of 2008, the consortium, Consorzio Agrario di Forlì-Cesena-Rimini, reopened the company with the idea of completing the chain of production for the cultivation of durum wheat.
It was both a fascinating idea and a risky bet, which was faced by the massive use of technology and the help of industrial automation.
Nowadays, Ghigi is based in San Clemente, Italy, within a new production site that covers roughly 100,000 m2. In addition, the company can leverage the significant potential of using various covered and uncovered spaces located nearby, while its industrial and service activities also benefit from the strategic location.
Automation in almost every activities for Pastificio Ghigi
The Ghigi facilities are noted for their high degree of automation. Almost every activity, in fact, is automated, including the end-of-line operations.
This level of automation has been made possible in part by Comau’s robotic solutions and by Tiber Pack, the System Integrator that integrated the Comau robots, installed the packaging machines and started them. In addition, Comau palletizing robots are used to automate Ghigi’s end-of-line operations.
Automation to be competitive on the market
Automation is the only way to be truly competitive in the market. “Automation is the only way that we can ensure high-quality products every single time,” the Company explained. “We chose, and continue to choose Comau because it is better than its competitors. It also has the advantage of being Italian, just like us. We believe in our country despite the existing difficulties, and we must invest, create value and innovation for it.”
These strong words are almost a manifesto for Ghigi’s business as well as advice for the industry. Company also added, “Our automated line, at its end, has four Comau palletizing robots. We chose them because, in addition to the fact that Comau is an Italian company, it has excellent references in terms of reliability and accuracy.”
Pastificio Ghigi, 90% is the export: to produce with continuity and quality
Reliability and accuracy are two key drivers, as Ghigi is a company with a production capacity of more than 750,000 tons of dry pasta every year. In order to achieve these production volumes, they need to perform endless cycles without flaws.
This is exactly what Comau’s technology guarantees, because it’s extremely reliable. Thanks to the natural repeatability of its robots, Comau is able to meet both the demand for precision and the high standards required.
This ensures that Ghigi has everything it needs to produce with continuity and quality.
Ghigi exports 90% of its products. In order to maintain their quality even in the transport phase, these products must be handled carefully and impeccably positioned when they are palletized.
Ghigi packaging changes in terms of shape and weight
importance of palletizing positioning, explained the Company, is fundamental. “The Ghigi packaging changes in terms of shape and weight depending on several factors including the type of pasta it contains, the type of box used (some boxes use less cardboard and have special shapes), and the country to which the products will be sent. This means that we cannot allow mistakes during the packaging and palletizing phases. These variables require that the robot at the end of the line is capable of handling different boxes, in different positions, of different weights and with a different sensitivity depending on the movements to be made. It must also take the packaging and its contents into account. The Comau robots manage these activities, and these variables, without exception. Furthermore, the robots are able to absorb, in terms of capacity and sensitivity, the inaccuracies that may result from the pasta shaping, which over time can occasionally produce pasta of slightly different weights and dimensions compared to the standards. Once packaged, the pasta is palletized based on the type of recipe that will be prepared.”
Accuracy and reliability are not the only variables that concern Ghigi. “It’s true that we are interested in the flexibility and speed of robotics,” continued the General Manager. “Given that we have a large and varied production, we must be able to change the activities performed at the end of the line very quickly. Comau robotics satisfy us. This type of automation is essential for our production thanks to its speed and flexibility. It is also the perfect solution considering the situation from which we began. Because we had pre-existing storage, we had to customize our production process as well as the end of the line based on this starting point. Comau’s technology was able to meet this need.”
The full potential of automation, technology and innovation
In visiting the plant in San Clemente and listening to the words of Ghigi’s managers, what emerged was the clear possibility of making high-quality 100% Italian products that fully exploit the potential of automation, technology and innovation.
Moreover, the use of automation is considered crucial to meet another goal set by Pastificio Ghigi; the operator satisfaction within the plant as well as the satisfaction of the raw material suppliers.
“In addition to allowing constant high-quality standards over time, automation has allowed us to provide high-level training for the operators who work with us,” added the General Manager. “The people who work in our factory are not just workers; they are skilled employees able to lead automated lines as their responsibilities have grown continuously over time.”
But there’s even more. The automation allows Ghigi to offer something more to the producers of raw materials, the collaborators of the Consorzio. This, is equally as important. “Our production rates, the increase in productivity, our results and efficiency at different stages, the reduction of costs related to waste, and the quality of our products – which is guaranteed by the sophisticated controls at the start of the line – allow us to significantly reduce our production costs and, as a result, we have more resources to invest on raw materials. In this way, Ghigi has been able to spread the value that its plant is able to generate across the entire value chain.”
Will Ghigi continue to invest in quality and automation, then? The answer is an unrestrained yes. “Without any doubt our investment will continue, as is shown by the recent addition of the fourth palletizer after the installation and launch of the first three.”
Info about Comau:
Comau, a member of the FCA Group, is a worldwide leader in delivering advanced industrial automation solutions that integrate products, technologies and services to help companies of all sizes increase plant efficiency while lowering operating costs and optimizing returns. Headquartered in Turin, Italy, Comau has over 40 years of factory-proven experience, and an international network of 34 locations, 15 manufacturing plants and 5 innovation centers that span 17 countries and employ more than 9,000 people. With a strong focus on innovation, Comau is committed to developing competency through the formation of individuals and groups as part of its open automation approach.
Comau is driving the future of production automation by engineering lean and sustainable solutions and products. Its modular, flexible and highly-configurable products can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual customer. Through the continuous development of products and services, Comau is able to lead the automation industry in every phase of a project – from design, implementation and installation, to production start-up and maintenance services. Its comprehensive offering includes manufacturing and assembly solutions, powertrain machining, robotics and asset maintenance services for a wide range of industrial sectors.
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