Automating lathe machine tending for the automotive industry

At the Brembo factory in China, the Vicenza-based company, Vimacchine, has installed complete processing lines with integrated robots for the production of brake discs.


From left to right, are Alessandro Finali, product portfolio manager of Vimacchine; Giampaolo Santin, general manager of Vimacchine; Alberto Bombassei, president of Brembo; Giovanni Canavotto, general manager of Brembo Discs Division; Andrea Dalla FontanaSince 2010, collaboration between Vimacchine and Brembo has resulted in the installation of some 450 machine tools and more than 150 robots inside multiple Brembo plants' brake disc divisions in Italy, China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Poland, and the U.S. In particular, at its headquarters in Nanjing, China, Vimacchine has recently provided complete processing lines that are integrated with robots.

Describing the project, Giampaolo Santin, the general manager of Vimacchine, explained, "In Nanjing we have installed complete processing facilities based on the Brembo configuration," which required different types of machines and robots. "The robots in these working islands perform machine tending operations according to the production cycle required by the company," Santin said. 

Automated machine tending

The Brembo production center in China, which was inaugurated in 2012, provides brake discs and braking systems to European clients that produce cars and commercial vehicles for the Asian market. It relies on the activity of a foundry department, 41 production lines, and an advanced research and development (R&D) center.

The Nanjing production plant installed 14 Comau Smart NJ 60 robots for machine tending, said Giampaolo Santin. "These robots are used primarily for vertical lathes and taping, milling, drilling, and masking centers that are integrated in the production lines that manufacture Brembo brake discs. There are also benches at these islands for the dimensional control of the discs, as well as washing machines, marking machines, and other equipment necessary for the management of the whole brake disc production cycle."

The turning operation machineries in the Chinese plant required the Comau Smart NJ 60 robot. This robot has a payload of up to 60 kg and a reach of 3.1 meters, helpful for the handling of components with a moderate flow rate. The Smart NJ 60 also stands oIn other words, the robot operates the tending for the turning center that enables the processing of the rough disc on both sides, and it then picks up the piece and takes it to the following stations: drilling, balancing, and marking. Subsequently, the robot places the piece on a bench for the dimensional control. At the end of the cycle, the robot deposits the piece on a conveyor belt.

Robots on line operations

"Vimacchine has implemented more than 80 automated islands at the Brembo factory in China," explained Santin.

Brembo is a manufacturer of brake-disc technology for automotive applications. The multinational company currently operates in three continents, with active production sites in 19 countries. On a global scale, Brembo relies on four research laboratories, 19 industrial sites, and 25 sales offices through which it sells its products in more than 70 countries worldwide.

- Alessio Cocchi is Comau marketing manager for the NAFTA, Latin American, and EMEA regions; edited by Eric R. Eissler, editor-in-chief, Oil & Gas Engineering,

ONLINE extra  

Vimacchine, global automation supplier. Founded in Vicenza in 1980, Vimacchine has been managed since 1997 by Andrea Dalla Fontana, president and CEO, who was joined in 2009 by general manager Giampaolo Santin. Today, the company imports and supplies Italy, as well as other countries, with international brands of machine tools for metal cutting, serving as a partner in mechanical processing, and factory automation. Vimacchine works as a system integrator to provide turnkey production facilities that are implemented according to the production and processing requirements of clients.

- See related stories about collaborative robots and lathe control below.

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