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Post published on 23/03/2023

Enhancing our technologies to optimise the benefits of industrial Automation

As is the case for all the industrial sectors we cater for, IMA AUTOMATION brings the benefits of new micro and macro-assembly technologies, often with a strong digital accent, to the pharmaceutical industry. Boasting nearly 600 patents, this division of the IMA Group has been operating on the market for over 50 years, with a current headcount of 800 employees. IMA Automation operates through an integrated network of companies with consolidated know-how gained in research and development; over the years it has turned its attention to the automotive segment, investing above all in vertical technologies related to E-mobility, a strategy that has allowed the IMA Group to grow further and create a real pool of dedicated companies. Lorenzo Maldarelli, Director of IMA AUTOMATION, illustrates the strategy and lists a number of recent acquisitions that are both a challenge and a foundation for the future.


The universe of advanced industrial automation technologies

Not all the focus is on the automotive segment or on electric mobility. At the core of our business and the technologies we develop are those linked to the world of advanced industrial automation. Our plant in Alessandria produces installations dedicated to continuous and indexed assembly systems for small and medium-sized plastic components to be used in the food, beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical closures sectors. In the two plants in Switzerland we design high-tech installations mainly dedicated to medical devices and watchmaking.

Lines intended for the production of medical devices, automotive, electro mechanicals and ink-jet are also being made in plants in North America (LovesPark, IL), China (Shanghai) and Malaysia (Penang). The merger involving the diffe-rent plants and technologies wi-thin IMA AUTOMATION is a delicate process that will bring with it several short and long-term benefits. From a technological viewpoint, the integration will encourage the development of transversal skills and know-how, allowing for a more diversified solution and shorter lead times. The widest integration with the consolidated packaging experience of IMA, will also allow synergies and will expand the offer of highly customised technical solutions.

“The current strategic choice sees us committed to creating a new organisational model. The pro-cess we are implementing is based on integration, increased synergies and power in the technological field. At the same time, customer care has been strengthened and expanded thanks to a more widespread presence to improve the way we manage activities out in the field. Not an easy challenge, as the new Automation hub has multiple realities, different products and targets.”


Cutting-edge technologies play a key role within this new development plan

Nowadays, integrated robotic solutions find space throughout a majority of production processes. Digital platforms and personalised applications, products and services created within the Corpo-rate IMA Digital project, allow – increasingly so in the future – factory and plant virtualisation, thereby accelerating the design and implementation phases of the various solutions.

Important investments in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been made to improve control of production compared to the current situation, more accurate quality control of the product and significantly increased production efficiency.

Proud of the breakthrough technological solution, Lorenzo points out that “it has been designed to handle different types of injection pens with several components on the same platform and without change parts. Medical Devices play a crucial role within the IMA AUTOMATION Hub finding synergies with the Pharmaceutical Divisions by offering complete turnkey lines in the field of pen injectors.”

Solutions provider and supplier of turnkey installations

As part of the IMA Group, IMA AUTOMATION benefits from the solidity and in-depth experience gathered by IMA in over 60 years. The new hub will be more than an equipment manufacturer, it will act as a solutions provider for our partners, thanks to a new pool of companies sized according to the dimensions of potential projects that will see it involved, industrially prepared and with its own integrated supply chain on a global scale. “And let’s not forget another fundamental aspect related to this integration of companies and skills’’
concludes Lorenzo. “The new IMA AUTOMATION Hub will be a real channel to actuate two sustainability projects, part of the IMA ZERO program. IMA AUTOMATION will focus on supporting the IMA LOW (Low-Impact Program) project, an energy efficiency program reducing consumption on machines and within production processes, which promotes investments in the research and development of new solutions and technologies for sustainable mobility.”

IMA ZERO embodies the commitment of the Group to the creation of products, production processes and services, implemented according to the logics of sustainability. IMA AUTOMATION can count on the presence of the IMA Group in over 80 countries, on a sales network made up of more than 27 branches, 50 agencies and 49 production facilities.

Interview with Lorenzo Maldarelli, IMA AUTOMATION Vice President

Lorenzo holds a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bologna. After 13 years in the automatic machines sector, he began his career with IMA in 2010 as General Manager of the former Gima s.p.a., a company acquired by IMA the same year. At that time, GIMA specialised in the engineering and manufacturing of automatic machines for markets such as confectionery, tobacco, coffee and automation. Lorenzo grew the existing businesses and penetrated new markets, also contributing to acquisition of other companies, placed under his responsibility. His focus then turned to automated assembly solutions for segments such as medical devices, caps & closures, automotive, electromechanics, etc. Today he is responsible for 10 IMA facilities in the field of automation technologies, the so-called IMA AUTOMATION, one of the Group’s three main business pillars (together with pharma and food).

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