Sustainable Innovation

8th December 2020

Logistics BusinessSustainable Innovation

Bonfiglioli is encouraged by its future opportunities, boosted by a new Bologna production plant and a new frequency inverter series. Paul Hamblin reports.

“Innovation becomes sustainability,” said Fausto Carboni, CEO of Italian gear motor and drive manufacturer Bonfiglioli at a September press conference. He painted a bullish picture of the
company’s recent performance, with revenues up 6.7% at €973 million last year, incorporating EMEA figures up 5% and North America up 20%.

Looking at the much more volatile recent months, he is encouraged by the contrast between April and August numbers this year. He quoted the example of India, down 99% year-on-year in April, for obvious reasons, but up 10% year-on-year in August. In an intriguing signal for the wider economy, he revealed that China will be Bonfiglioli’s most important market in 2020, with numbers boosted by 64% year-on-year in the territory. While Italy, France and Spain are all understandably down by over a half this year, Germany is a predictable outlier, with a less damaging slowdown than its European neighbours. Mr Carboni suggested that Germany’s growth is also boosted by its strong progress with the Circular Economy.

He went on to outline how Bonfiglioli has adapted to virus restrictions with new shift patterns, improved distancing, common space procedures and regular temperature checks of staff. These
have been incorporated at its new plant for industrial gear motors at Bologna. “#WeNeverStop is our new mantra,” he revealed. This promise is illustrated by the launch of a new premium frequency inverter series.

Bonfiglioli says that the new AxiaVert Series provides the ultimate combination of flexibility, modularity and connectivity, aimed at offering an optimal response to specific industrial application requirements across a wide range of sectors and with different degrees of complexity. AxiaVert is now available in 4 sizes, with a power range between 0.25–15 kW. Higher power versions will be released at a later stage.

The advanced digital and open communication protocols, complying with automation and Industry 4.0 standards, allow a smooth integration into automation networks, thanks to the compatibility
with a great variety of fieldbus protocols and machine controllers. Communication encryption is embedded by design in AxiaVert to ensure secure communication. In addition, thanks to
condition monitoring functions on the key inverter components as well as on the gearmotor critical parameters, AxiaVert is able to provide real time diagnostics, energy optimization and
predictive maintenance information related to the motion system up to the entire machine.

The wide range of advanced integrated functional safety functions, in compliance with EN ISO 13849-1 and IEC 61508 international standards, are available in different versions, to select the most suitable option in terms of costs and performance and match the actual needs. This approach simplifies configuration and reduces the need for external safety components, while ensuring a safe and controlled operation of different movements (e.g. lifting applications), thanks to Safe Brake Control and fast spindle axes with Safe Limited Speed, even sensorless.

Thanks to its modular structure and PLC software programmability, the system can be flexibly adapted and customized to meet many different application requirements, by defining the proper
software parameters and functions, and selecting the most suitable hardware modules, such as communication or encoder modules, variants and accessories. In addition, the AxiaVert Series offers a great variety of frame and power sizes, mounting variants and cooling concepts for greater freedom of design.

Great process versatility is ensured by the high compatibility with a wide range of motors (asynchronous, synchronous, synchronous reluctance) and by its high speed, position and torque control
accuracy, both for open and closed loop applications. Finally, user-friendliness is ensured by AxiaManager engineering software for programming, commissioning, operation and monitoring of AxiaVert. AxiaManager is available as a Windows PC GUI and as a mobile App for an instant access to the drive status and configuration with a simplified user interface.