Value takes many forms. But for one Italian company specialising in automotive and industrial DC motor production, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is much more than a machinery supplier. The affinity, consultancy support and practical guidance supplied by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag consistently over the last two decades has proved invaluable to Electro-Parts S.p.A who embarked on launching a dedicated in-house moulding facility in 2002. From utilising its deep experience in purchasing and sourcing plastic components for its motors to its current in-house production of 30 million precision components annually, the Italian firm is now on an ambitious mission to penetrate new markets.
For 20 years, Electro-Parts S.p.A located in Bossolasco, Northern Italy, had carved out a solid reputation as a quality manufacturer of DC motors and gears used predominantly by the automotive sector. Yet, it’s reliance on one external supplier could have thwarted future strategic ambitions at the turn of the century. To safeguard the company’s future, CEO Marco Falcone tentatively approached current Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s Italy Managing Director Paolo Zirondoli to explore the feasibility of establishing an in-house mould shop.
With the support of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, Electro-Parts developed a roadmap to successfully mould its precision components in house
Paolo’s advice proved invaluable. With the support of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, Electro-Parts developed a roadmap to bring the moulding of its precision components in house. Starting with a hydraulic driven machine, today the company’s fleet comprises 14 Sumitomo (SHI) Demag injection moulding machines, including nine precision all-electric operating three shifts daily, including an overnight ghost shift.
CEO Marco Falcone recalls the pivotal moment Electro-Parts switched from sub-contracting its production of components to bringing moulding in-house and commends the ongoing consultancy support and ‘total solution’ approach. “Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s support getting this project off the ground has been invaluable. The relationship formed at the start was mutually beneficial. They have been an exceptional partner, sharing the same affinity to our business strategy and providing the assurance that the equipment was 100 percent reliable and appropriate for the strategy we were proposing. They supported us in the switch in applying the indirect moulding experience we had gained purchasing parts to developing our own direct moulding process. Electro-Parts launched a facility that enabled us from day one of this new approach to maintain control over production capacity, costs and quality. The synergy between our two companies has been constant. Through this mutual trust, the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Italy team helped us to fast track our ambitions.”
Electro-Parts processes 200 tons of material annually, producing 30 million technical components for motors and gears
Since 2002, the Electro-Parts plant has expanded five times, adding equipment, gaining ISO 16949:2002 certification and establishing dedicated assembly and electronic R&D centres.
Masters of precision molding
With today’s workforce of approximately 280 people, 180 in Italy and 100 in Romania, Electro-Parts manufactures and assembles a wide range of motion parts, DC and brushless motors used in vehicle roof tops, electric windows, as well as parking brakes, seat adjustments, automated trunk opening and closure mechanisms and cooling fans. Every mass moulded component is assembled and EOL tested on one of 30 automatic lines on-site.
As production line assembly robots are not tolerant to variables, moulding repeatability and precision on every single component is critical, notes Paolo. It’s one of the key rationales why Electro-Parts installed the first IntElect Smart all-electric machine in 2009, introduced thanks to the dedication and engagement of the local agent Mr. Roberto Sallemi, that since years together the Sumitomo Demag Italian Team takes care of the Customer. Since this date, the company has exclusively extended its machine fleet with all-electric injection moulding machines, initially with the IntElect Smart series, followed by the IntElect2. Two of the latest IntElect2 series were installed in July 2021.
With automotive applications requiring greater dimensional stability, Electro-Parts predominantly uses polyamide, materials and other safety and fibre reinforced components. Controlling the injection pressure and process optimisation is essential for mouldability.
Paolo explains: “For industries where precision is paramount, the combination of electric drives and digital control can turn injection moulding into a predictable and precise operation. As a result of the parallel movements, Electro-Parts reported a 15% increase in productivity on their new IntElect machines compared to their hydraulic machines.” Fewer defects and subsequently less material waste was also a decisive driver for moving entirely to all-electric machines. Due to the highly technical demands and properties of the components, Electro-Parts cannot reuse and recycle scrap material.
The IntElect’s unique mould safety system helps to ensure mechanical mould elements, for example pins, are protected from damage