Industry 4.0: Elettric80 launches the Unicorn system -More efficient and sustainable automation for the tissue sector

The new model of Laser Guided Vehicle for the tissue sector can lift and move reels up to 3 – 5 tons in weight and 3 meters in diameter. The result is greater flexibility, enhanced safety and less waste.

An advanced automatic handling system guarantees the optimization and safety of the operations throughout the supply chain by fully integrating intralogistics flows in smart tissue factories. Elettric80 has launched Unicorn on the international market. This new LGV model is especially suited to the automatic handling of parent reels in the tissue paper sector and is designed to reduce waste and to safeguard the quality of the finished product.

Patented by Elettric80, a market leader in the design and installation of advanced intralogistics solutions for industry, the Unicorn automatic system enables to attain three main goals:

1. zero damage to the parent reel;

2. 6-7% optimization of warehouse storage and drastic reduction in the so-called “chimney effect” in case of fire;

3. automatic handling of the reel core.

Unicorn is the result of the vast experience that the Elettric80 Group has gained with customers in the tissue sector. The Group has already implemented 900 LGVs, over 600 robotic lines, approx. 200 stretch wrappers and numerous factories with high – density warehouses around the world.

“The tissue sector has been a very important springboard for our industrial adventure when we started work here back in the early nineties”, Enrico Grassi and Vittorio Cavirani, respectively president and vice president of the Elettric80 Group recall. “Thanks to the extensive know-how we have acquired by constantly updating our competences and developing specific technologies, we have always been able to help companies achieve their objectives in terms of process efficiency and sustainability and improve their service to end consumers too. We also accompany their growth over time, so that they can respond to and often anticipate the new challenges from the market”.

Unicorn’s innovative functions add to the benefits already created by the development of a wide range of automated laser guided vehicles. The system can lift reels weighing up to 3 – 5 tons, with a diameter of 3 meters, and stack them vertically up to three levels, reaching a final height of 9 meters. Unicorn can therefore work with all kinds of reel.

The new handling system is equipped with two pins that act inside the reel core and with which the reel can be picked up and deposited with both vertical and horizontal axis.

The first pin is expandable and enables to lift the reel from the inside, while the second pin is inserted in the lower part of the reel to support it and allow its rotation. This system guarantees the highest standards of parent reel quality by eliminating the crushing associated with pressure-type grippers.

In fact, no damage at all is caused to the paper, which is not touched during the whole laying and picking process. Since there is no longer any contact with the outside of the paper reels, they can be moved and stored automatically without further interventions, and without any damage whatsoever. Such efficiency means an almost total reduction in waste caused by reel the product deterioration and a 6-7% optimization of warehouse space, since reels can be stored in direct contact with each other, thus maximizing safety in case of fire.

Finally, this latest addition to Elettric80’s LGV fleet is even able to handle spent reel cores automatically, a task that today is handled almost exclusively manually.

This extra functionality comes on top of incredibly high levels of efficiency guaranteed by the LGVs that ensure the utmost integration of the intralogistics operations inside the factories and the traceability of all the processes.

Furthermore, power supply with lithium batteries developed by Elettric80’s partner Flash Battery cuts energy consumptions by over 25%.

Another key factor is the increase in safety inside the plant: in fact, all Elettric80’s AGV/LGV models, including Unicorn, have always been equipped with additional technological devices, well exceeding the international standards and regulations. On this basis, the Group has recently developed and patented worldwide SmartDect, an anti-collision system that employs innovately the ultra-wideband technology to increase the ability of AGVs/LGVs to detect operators and moving systems in the surrounding area, thus reducing and often eliminating any risk related to incorrect and unexpected behavior.

Each LGV is equipped with antennas that communicate in real time with the identification tags worn by the operators, placed on the manually guided vehicles. The system allows each AGV/LGV to pinpoint the tags, tracking position, speed and direction of travel.

Therefore, the AG/LGV, by locating the tag in the surrounding area, can tell if there is a potential danger of collision with a moving element and, consequently, it slows down to a stop, if necessary, or continues on its path, if all is clear. At the same time, the wearable provides a feedback to the operator in the form of vibration, blinking light or sound to warn of a possible approaching danger.

SmartDect greatly increases the ability of the AGVs/LGVs to detect what is moving inside the system and enables to share the information with all the other automatic vehicles in the area; it must always be used in combination with the other certified safety devices already operating on all the automatic guided vehicles.

Unicorn is the result of 40 years of continuous commitment to the development of innovative, customized intralogistics solutions, and represents a major step forward in Elettric80 research.

All this contributes to improving both reliability and sustainability with a view to helping factories become regenerative.

Written by Dom Thorby