The extensive technological upgrading implemented out by Italgraniti Group in its factory in San Martino in Rio (Reggio Emilia) relates to the three new Sorting Department lines, composed of innovative System automations. One line is dedicated to the management of 120x180 cm formats (launched in 2017), the second line to formats of up to 120x120 cm and the third to formats of up to 120x180 cm.
There are substantially three elements that have led Italgraniti Group to opt for System’s cutting-edge solutions: the multi-disciplinary approach of the technologies developed; the company’s technical and business know-how, with the ability to interpret the key factors for expansion in the market for the Impronta and Italgraniti brands; last, but not least, the excellent results achieved with the first Sorting line in operation since 2017.
The project for Italgraniti Group’s new Ceramic Sorting department began with a detailed analysis of the production data and methodology in use for sorting, packaging, and palletizing ceramic products. The study was carried out by System with the objective of designing and developing a customized plant able to satisfy specific production requirements.
The heart of the project is based on four innovative technologies:
- the Qualitron vision system;
- the Multigecko sorter;
- the Multiflex packer;
- the Griffon palletizer.
The renewal of the Sorting department
At the exit of the kiln, the tiles are collected by the Robofloor storage automations, developed and produced by the Nuova Era industrial division, and deposited on the loading beds to be transported to the rectification line, then to unloading Robofloors and to the sorting line.
The Qualitron, thanks to a powerful vision software developed by System, “reads” the characteristics of the surfaces and the variations of tonality. The reading occurs rapidly and completely independently of the product dimension control system.
The products then arrive at the Multigecko sorter which, based on the inputs received from the Qualitron, subdivides the products and forms stacks of tiles with extreme delicacy (zero wastage and minimum noise). One of the most significant advantages of the Multigecko is the double sucker that makes it possible to pick up two pieces at a time, and deposit them on an autonomous stacker which processes two stacks simultaneously: the dual axis and double suckers make the process really rapid.
The stacks of tiles then arrive at the Multiflex, the automatic packing system that creates a resistant frame of cardboard round the product. System has innovated the system for creating the frame: besides being faster than previous technologies, Multiflex permits the application of a corner protection (single or double), considerably increasing the safety of the pieces during transport. The packaging process begins from the sheet of cardboard, which is cut and glued according to the dimension of the stack of tiles to be packaged. The four integrated cardboard storage units in the Multiflex feed the process without interruption; the printing system, also integrated in the machine, makes it possible to print logos and information of every kind, necessary and useful for transport and the sale of the product, in real time.
At the end of the Sorting line there is the Griffon palletizer: it picks up the package of tiles and deposits it on the pallet. The Griffon software processes the weight, the dimension and the format of every package, balancing very precisely all the risk factors, creating appropriate and safe palletization solutions for transport.
System’s AGVs link the Griffon palletizer to the end-of-line, transporting the material and transmitting all the relative data to the Logistics department.
It’s important to point out that the Italgraniti project also took account of the strategic importance of internal logistics management. An automatic Modula vertical warehouse has been installed near the samples inspection room: through a touch-screen interface, in a few seconds it’s possible to pinpoint the vertical warehouse drawer and examine the desired sample.
Overall, eleven Nuova Era Robofloors have been installed in the plant, distributed to perform various tasks: the management of ceramic products leaving the kiln, feeding in the rectification phase, and as buffers between rectification and sorting, and the lapping line.
Digital decoration of the ceramic surfaces
The Sorting Department is not the only System innovation introduced into the Italgraniti factory in San Martino in Rio.
Italgraniti has introduced Creadigit digital printing systems, the single-pass ink-jet printer for digital decoration of the ceramic surfaces for 400 DPI HD decoration, with internal recirculation heads and high strength and totally regenerable metal plates.
The advantages obtained
The most evident change in the factory in San Martino in Rio is the disappearance of the warehouse dedicated to storing cutting-dies thanks to the introduction of the Multiflex, which has integrated storage units. Thousands of square meters have been dedicated to the storage of finished pallets. The Multiflex has also simplified the requirement for boxing supplies: there are only two or three product-codes that need to be requested, with a consequent reduction in management costs.
The Sorting department designed by System for Italgraniti Group is yet another confirmation of the tendency for Italian factories to invest in integrated automated technology, in which the electronic components allow for communication between the machines and also create precious databases of information and statistics which are useful for comparing, at any time, new and past productions.