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Fast Path to Industry 4.0 Forged While Enabling Smarter More Efficient Factories

Molex, a global electronics leader and connectivity innovator, is fueling the development of flexible industrial automation solutions in collaboration with Salvagnini, a global sheet-metal systems manufacturer that optimizes production processes through the use of flexible industrial automation and customized Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions.

Based in Sarego, Italy, Salvagnini has installed more than 7,000 systems in 75 countries to process sheet metal, using punching machines, panel benders, press brakes and fiber laser cutting machines. Customized solutions are delivered by 1,992 employees across five manufacturing plants, 35 service centers and 23 operational sites to customers around the world. Seamless collaboration between operators, machines and instruments requires Salvagnini to exchange real-time data with factory-floor systems, smart sensors and cloud-based applications.

“Salvagnini systems are complex, and demand high-quality standards and conformity with the certifications and regulations established in all of the markets we serve,” said Alessandro Bano, Commodity Manager at Salvagnini. “We have to guarantee high-speed connectivity and secure communications between on-site sheet metal machining systems and servers in the cloud. Molex impressed us with the quality of their products and the responsiveness of their team to help guide our own operational model and customer approach.”

Meeting an IIoT Imperative

Molex’s proven knowledge of Industrial Ethernet architecture, broad product portfolio and local technical support proved invaluable in finding and fixing a critical connectivity problem with Salvagnini’s smart communications machine backbone. Together, the teams investigated different connector types to achieve the highest levels of stability and connection quality, which ultimately were adopted at all of Salvagnini’s production sites in Italy.

“The initial catalyst for working together was Molex’s suite of existing connectors, cables and cord sets,” added John Newkirk, VP and GM, Industrial Solutions at Molex. “We were an attractive partner from an electromechanical and connector standpoint, which gave Molex a window into Salvagnini’s longer-term needs and requirements.”

Customized Solutions, Flexible Industrial Automation

Molex also stands out for its ability to address demands for ever-smaller connector sizes by developing customized solutions that feature a variety of cable lengths and connector combinations. For example, Molex devised a plastic-injected overmold connector, which is different than conventional bayonet systems, to ensure high-speed communications stability in extremely compact environments.

Additionally, Molex designed a novel, single-cable solution to connect cameras installed on Salvagnini’s L3 and L5 lasers to acquire an image of a piece of sheet metal positioned on a worktable and transmit it via software as a Drawing Exchange Format (DFX) vector file to display the starting format for a new nesting. In addition to reducing the size and number of cables, Molex improved the speed of communications between the camera and Salvagnini’s system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Molex ramped production of standard parts in different sizes, so they could be adapted quickly to address Salvagnini’s specific customer needs.

“Together, we solve any issue that may come up, while developing new solutions to promote and create mutual value,” said Bruno Sambi, Head of the Technical Department at Salvagnini. “We hope that our work with Molex evolves into an even deeper collaboration to create increasingly innovative and well-performing solutions.”

Looking ahead, Salvagnini and Molex are furthering their combined Industry 4.0 focus to inform the design and development of more compact, IP67-rated products to support increasingly smaller and more powerful machines that must perform reliably in the most rigorous environments. Opportunities to improve machine diagnostics and expedite repair times also are being explored, along with the adoption of Molex innovations in solderless terminals, circular cables and industrial electronics that enable new levels of flexible automation.

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