Fincantieri signed a letter of intent with Italian robotics firm Comau to develop robotics and another technological advancement for shipbuilding as well as other heavy construction applications, in an attempt to improve the performance of its shipbuilding activities and potentially develop new market opportunities. At Fincantieri's shipyards, the companies will collaborate to build and validate the latest applications.
Comau, an industrial automatic and robotics firm that was founded in the 1970s to produce robotics for the automotive industry, is now a part of automaker Stellantis.
The initiative would concentrate on the construction of prototypes and the production of specialized robots capable of performing steel welding projects in the shipyard first.
Robotics, which is common in other fields, has become a popular method in assembly line manufacturing for tasks like welding in the automotive industry. Comau's expertise with these applications will be leveraged in the collaboration.
The companies who already started designing a welding robot vehicle reported it consists of a soldering anthropomorphic welding robot and a tracked vehicle controlled by remote. Tests are expected to launch in the first half of 2022 at the Fincantieri shipyards.
The Fincantieri General Manager, Fabio Gallia, said: "This collaboration represents a significant advancement to the shipbuilding industry. Aside from enhancing worker safety and ergonomic working practices, these solutions would enable us to make significant strides in pursuing the competitiveness of our manufacturing sector. In addition, looking forward to the future, it is a perfect chance for Comau to further expand the spectrum of skills of the Group.”
Fincantieri and Comau would be co-owners of the know-how and intellectual property established when implementing the latest ideas, according to the deal. Based on the designs produced, they would later investigate the possibility of selling welding goods to the shipbuilding industry and other relevant industries. They said, for example, that the technologies could be used to manufacture large-scale steel products for infrastructure and special projects (e.g. continuous structures for suspension bridges, structures for large-size hoisting systems, products for special constructions).
The firms have already decided to explore and investigate potential possibilities for developing creative technologies within the context of a digital factory.
As part of Fiat Chrysler's integration with PSA, the owner of Peugeot, Comau became part of Stellantis. Stellantis revealed that it plans to sell off Comau in the future, although the firm has been looking to extend its applications into other sectors.