Cutting-edge technology inspired by “open innovation”. Efficient machines based on standard modules. And the ability of listening to the market and its needs to offer the right systems and services at the right time. They are the basic elements of Cosberg, the Bergamo group specialized in automations and assembly systems.
Cosberg, at Terno d’Isola, in the outskirts of Bergamo, is managed by Gianluigi Viscardi, president, general manager and founder, together with his brothers Antonio and Ermanno. Solid are also the concepts and the values on which the company is based, such as “open innovation”, the in-house knowledge sharing to make it always available for all collaborators, thus avoiding it is lost, the production of machines that are at the same time user-friendly (within the reach even of a temporary worker), fast and efficient, a design system that provides for the manufacture and testing of machines in the company and their transport when they are already assembled in order to shorten commissioning times, the capability both of patenting technologies in-house developed and of travelling around the world discovering the best patents to be acquired.
Growing thanks to quality
The three Viscardi brothers establish Cosberg in 1983. A small company, at the beginning. Actually, an engineering office and a small staff that works at the design and manufacturing of special assembling machines. They soon decide to start the production of components, designing their own range of “modules”: vibrating feeders (circular and linear), screw driving units, handlers and insertion units. A success, to the extent that just three years after its establishment, Cosberg moves to its present headquarters at Terno d’ Isola, which take up a covered surface of 6, 000 square metres inside a property area of 14,000 square meters. In these premises is carried out the mechanical design and manufacturing of standard automation modules (feeders, electromagnetic and piezo-electrical feeding groups and systems, trucks, hoppers, screw driving units and insertion units, handlers) as well as the design and construction of free pallet assembly lines, rotary tables and special machines. Operating branches at Brescia and Florence are part of Cosberg group, too. The first is entrusted with the design and production of test machines, control systems, systems of production data acquisition and control instruments of torque and torque/angle. Besides, it works at the research and development of new projects and applications. The Florence branch carries out the selections of the feeders produced by Cosberg for feeding all kinds of pieces. Cosberg has commercial and after sale service branches in France, Slovenia and Brazil. It exports 40%, even if in the course of the last two years it has an 80% export percentage of its production in Europe (EU and non-EU), Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Middle East, South Africa, India, China, United States and South America.
The offer by Cosberg is based on over twenty patents, fruit either of the in-house research or of farsighted acquisitions all over the world, such as that of Moxmec piezo-electrical feeders (company owned by Viscardi family and managed by Michele, son of Gianluigi Viscardi) that are integral part of the systems manufactured at Terno d’Isola, essentially automatic or semi-automatic assembly machines with rotary table, either in line or with free pallets, which are purchased by companies that in their turn produce automation, mainly in Germany and in Switzerland, due to their indisputable innovative value. The other patents concern products that range from high-speed pallet translators to screwing devices for short threaded elements. All that converges into assembly plants with tailor-made solutions for customers, which operate in sectors that range from household appliances to automotive. But also into standard modules for feeding, screwing, riveting, pick and place arms for handling, feeding groups with Moxmec piezo-electrical bases, standardized pushbutton panels managed in Profibus and software for the management, monitoring and storing of production data.
If the feeding groups with piezo-electrical bases are a world patent acquired by Cosberg, which only the Bergamo company can therefore propose, the remaining part of the offer is shared by many other competing companies. Which is then the strong point of Cosberg? “Simply the fact that since its establishment we have been carrying out co-design and concurrent engineering in order to understand what really our customers need and to succeed in turning it into the design of simple, modular and ergonomic machines, accessible for the operator, easily reconfigured and maintained” explains Gianluigi Viscardi. “We design and manufacture the feeding groups of the components to be assembled – adds the president of Cosberg – free pallet lines, rotary tables, screwing units, switchboards … and besides we implement also the programmes of the Plc and of the operation monitoring computers ». The control and the knowledge of each part of the machine allow, and it is one of Cosberg’s strong points, guaranteeing the whole project in first person. Another strong point is represented by the fact that the machines are not assembled in the company, tested, dismounted and then mounted again at the customer’s, as it usually happens. Cosberg machines, even if they are 13 or 14 metre long, are engineered in such a way as to be mounted and tested at Terno d’Isola and transported without having to dismount them. “In this way – underlines Viscardi – we can install and start-up a 27-metre long plant in five days: it immediately starts recouping, calls for scarce maintenance and customers thank us.”. Actually, all machines have a stiff and sturdy bed and a worktable of machined steel. As far as ergonomics is concerned, the front part of the machine is always left free so that the operator can work with the greatest freedom while the rear part of the machine is studied to be easily accessible to those who load the components to be assembled. Particular attention is paid to standardized pushbutton panels managed in Profibus and to the man-machine dialogue thanks to software developed by Cosberg for the machine management (suitable for inexperienced operator, too) and for the monitoring of data and their storing.
We have reviewed what Cosberg does and how it does it. Now it is the time to see what is the spirit that animates it, what are the reasons that have led the company to grow rapidly and to reconfirm year by year its innovation capabilities and the high quality standards of product and service. And the right person to hear is just Gianluigi Viscardi, who wants to mention an aspect in particular: the constant research of innovation and the knowledge sharing. “Innovation – explains the president of Cosberg – is our core business, the instrument that allows us to be always in front of others. But the knowledge gained through innovation should be always stored and shared, so that it can always be available for the right people at the right times. This way of operating has always given us great satisfactions. And not only because it means cutting-edge products from the technological point of view, manufactured in very short times, but because the centralized knowledge would permit us to preserve our know-how even in the absurd assumption that all our employees changed within one day”.
Gianluigi Viscardi underlines, then, once more the importance of being able “to listen to the market”. “Our customers demand more and more innovative machines and, to be able to supply them, we are expected to know all technologies and to succeed in exploiting them at best. As in the case of the patent concerning piezo-electrical feeders. When I discovered this technology developed by a Japanese company I decided to acquire the possibility of using it. At the beginning nobody believed that it could function so well but then the market has awarded us. A market that we know well because our creed is to listen to customers. From this constant will of “smelling” trends and demands was born the reconfigurability of machines, their ergonomics and the transport of the machine assembled in such a way as to be ready for starting up production in very short times”. And today the short time of commissioning of the systems produced by Cosberg is essential, unlike in the past. “Formerly a product lasted twenty years, from its devising to its death – confirms Viscardi – while today this life is ten time shorter. That’s why we must produce the machines quickly: it is not possible to lose a working day any longer. The “time to market” is fundamental”.