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Case story

The Alca Palletizer: Reaching new heights through a strong collaboration

When the Italian company Alca Technologies designed their cobot palletiser, they needed an industrial-grade lifting column. They chose the LINAK ELEVATE™ – a decision that not only contributed to a high-caliber solution but also sparked an alliance that extended well beyond a typical business transaction.

The Alca Palletiser at work next to ELEVATE lifting column that extends the cobot reach.

Alca specialises in the design, development and integration of automation solutions. Their mission is to increase their customers’ operational efficiency and streamline processes by implementing collaborative robots. The company was founded in 2021 and has rapidly grown to include a dedicated team of over 15 technology enthusiasts, who focus on delivering tailored and off-the-shelf solutions for a variety of industries.

Founder and CEO Alessio Carignola with over 20 years of experience in industrial automation, spotted a niche for collaborative automation solutions. While the market was rich in automated production and assembly setups, it fell short on effective solutions for start-of-line and end-of-line tasks, such as feeding materials and palletising products. With that insight, Carignola set Alca on a mission: To create a cobot palletiser solution tailor-made to bridge this gap. This was the starting point for the Alca Palletizer.


ELEVATE: An ideal match for the Alca Palletizer

When designing the Alca Palletizer, Carignola needed to extend the cobot’s reach to enable stacking and unstacking products. He initially adopted a market-available lifting column, but he quickly realised that it failed to meet his requirements for industrial use. The search for a better option coincided with a call from LINAK® Sales Engineer, Matteo Berruti, introducing the ELEVATE lifting column tailored for cobot palletising. And so, the collaboration between LINAK and Alca took off.

Carignola investigated the details of the ELEVATE lifting column and found it to be an ideal match for Alca’s technical requirements. It aligned well with his priorities: "First of all, I focus on the technology in the product. It comes before everything else. It’s the only way to go, when our goal is to deliver top-tier machines”.

Diving into the technical features, the speed and the stroke length of the column ticked the boxes for the Alca Palletizer. The main reason, however, for opting for the LINAK column was its well-suited design. The ELEVATE fit seamlessly into Alca’s palletiser, due to its small footprint, the compatibility with various industrial power supplies, and the fact that an external control box was not required.


Remote troubleshooting for customer peace of mind

Communication with the column was also important to consider, and thanks to the open Modbus TCP/IP interface, the possibilities go far beyond simple control, as Alca also gets a lot of data from the column. They can track column run times, unintentional stops, error codes and temperatures – data that can be used for troubleshooting and customer support. And by linking the column to their PLC, Alca can even monitor the column remotely and react fast, if issues occur in the field. This technical feature is not only an advantage for Alca, as Carignola explains:

“With ELEVATE Modbus we have been able to build a digital twin of our whole palletiser, which allows us to monitor the machines in the field and support our customers, whenever modifications are required or unexpected situations occur. This convenience is a key factor for our customers and gives them peace of mind in their daily operations”.


From project-based to off-the-shelf solution

After hard work and a lot of attention to detail, the Alca Palletizer stands as a versatile cobot palletising solution, designed to work side-by-side with human staff. With the capacity to handle loads up to 30 kg, its compact design fits effortlessly into various settings and can be readily relocated to wherever it is needed on the production floor. In the beginning, Alca built palletisers for individual projects. Now the Alca Palletizer has evolved into an off-the-shelf solution, serving a range of sectors, such as food and beverage and pharmaceuticals.


The LINAK-Alca collaboration

The Alca Palletizer project laid the foundation for a fruitful alliance. Apart from ELEVATE being a good technical fit for the application, the confidence in the equipment was sealed with LINAK showing Alca all the ins and outs of the column.

"There is a high level of transparency in our collaboration. And that is important to me. We get all the details we need to make optimal use of the column – and Matteo keeps us in the loop about what relevant product updates LINAK has in the pipeline. This is really a plus for us", reflects Carignola.

The alliance between Alca and LINAK thrives on transparent communication, evident from the early stages where Alca was involved in the prototype testing of the ELEVATE column. Their feedback drove enhancements, tuning the product to better fit the palletising market requirements. A key upgrade was an increased column duty cycle to ensure that the palletiser could match production line cycle times.

The exchange of information and support not only improves product development, but also fosters confidence and growth between the two entities, creating the basis for expanding the collaboration. Now it also includes showcasing their joint efforts at various exhibitions. Beyond palletising, Alca has also adopted the ELEVATE column for other applications that require an extension of a robot's range, such as in welding and wood grinding operations.

Alca Palletizer on display at LINAK® exhibition booth.

A vision of collaborative growth

Looking ahead, Alca anticipates steady growth in the demand for their palletiser and other applications where the ELEVATE column is used. They plan to maintain their presence at industry exhibitions alongside LINAK, and Carignola sees great potential in integrating LINAK products into AGV top modules – another key focus area for Alca. So, there are plenty of opportunities to develop the collaboration. And that is also what Carignola envisions:

"I want the partnership to expand and grow even stronger. It is wise both on a technical and a commercial level to keep supporting each other and learn from each other’s experiences".

To learn more about the lifting column designed for cobot palletisers, swing by the ELEVATE application page to find information that will lift your understanding - and your palletiser – to the next level.

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