#smartfactory

SMART FOOTWEAR FACTORIES

HOW IT WORKS

ICOL Smart Factories are a living example of the footwear industry of the future. Every single manufacturing stage is encapsulated into a self-sufficient robotic unit. The interaction among different units is fully coordinated and automated.

Here are some significant features ICOL Smart Factories have:
– Incredible automation: a system consisting of 4-5 working  areas is served by a few technicians.
– Manufacturing stages are fully independent from each other: you can implement them alternately without interfering with the remaining ones.
– A seamless integration of the design and manufacturing stages: the production of each new footwear model can start immediately.
– AI and Computer Vision: this technology makes it possible to achieve high precision, produces few rejected pieces and offers the highest possible yield.

CUTTING CENTER

The natural leather footwear manufacturing process we use in ICOL Smart Factory includes the following steps.

1. An AGV mobile robot equipped with special auxiliaries brings a half skin to the cutting line cells.
2. An unwinding device rolls out the half skin on a vacuum surface of the cutting table.
3. An optical scanner creates a digital twin of the half skin and checks it on faults.
4. A proprietary cloud-based software analyzes both manufacturing tasks and fault-checking results. The software then forms a digital cutting scheme with the highest-possible yield area.
5. Thanks to a multiple scheme simultaneous usage support, the software can combine components of different models at one half skin. This allows the cutting center to process orders from one pair without losing profitability.
6. Robots process and decorate the components using lettering, pyrography, graving, printing or stamping. Each manufacturing operation executes using a specific technological equipment switching automatically.
7. Component cutting comes after processing, providing peerless quality and process speed. This know-how is registered under the name IISC (ICOL Intelligent Screening & Cutting).
8. A robotic manipulator removes the cut components from the cutting table and places them on the AGV table, after which they are sent to the next technological stage.

SHOE UPPERS ASSEMBLY CENTER

1. The AGV mobile robot brings the ready-to-assemble components to the upper stitching cell.
2. The robotic manipulator brings a pattern container (pallet) from a carousel rack, then opens it and puts the components inside.
3. Next, the robotic manipulator dispatches the pallet to an automatic sewing machine. Each robotic manipulator can maintain up to two machines at one time. In addition, the ISER carousel rack (ICOL Smart Elevator Rack), featured with symmetrical access, can maintain up to four automatic sewing machines placed around it.
4. The automatic sewing machine stitches the components into uppers.
5. The robotic manipulator retrieves the stitched uppers and puts them on the AGV.  Then they are sent to the next technological stage.
6. Depending on the manufacturing task, the used pallet can be reassembled, returned to the carousel rack or utilized for repeating the technical operation.

UPPER COMPONENTS REINFORCING (LINING SPLUTTERING)

Traditionally, woven or nonwoven fabrics, leather or pelage are used as lining materials. They are sewn on or glued to the upper components’ insides. ICOL Group has developed and registered a new lining installation technology, named ICOL Polycomposite Layer Sputtering (IPLS).

1. During the lining installation process, a robot equipped with a special injector sprays special composite compounds on the upper components’ insides.
2. Once the compounds are polymerized, they become stiff and impart the required properties to the footwear. It can be the desired level of thermal insulation, breathing, water penetration, absorption or comfort. The injector used for spraying the compounds is a proprietary ICOL Group device as well.
3. This type of lining is far more resistant to abrading, bending and stretching than the traditional lining materials.
4. The IPLS technology makes it available using up to six different compounds within one producing step, as well as sputtering multiple layers to a single component and varying the layer thickness.
5. The polymerization of the compound runs in special ovens. After that, the components are sent to the next step.

LASTING CENTER

Lasting is a process of turning the shoe uppers out from flat to three-dimensional.

1. A two-handed robot brings the flat upper to a post-type machine.
2. The machine stitches the upper in a way it gets the required shape.
3. The robot puts the finished upper to the AGV robotic cart equipped with special shape-holding annexes. The cart moves it to the next operation.

CENTER OF MOUNTING THE UPPER ONTO A LAST

1. The robotic manipulator takes a required lasting from the carousel rack and places it at special electromechanic grips mounted on AGV. The ICOL Precise & Delicate Stretch Grip (IPDSG) is also our proprietary technology that allows the robots to mount the uppers faster, gentler and more precisely than people do.
2. One AGV is equipped with two different grips, one for left and one for right. The precise positioning and holding is possible thanks to magnet mounts paired with counterparts of the same shape.
3. The robotic manipulator puts the upper and allocates it over the last. Then the IPDSG grips are activated and shrink across the bottom edge of the upper, gently drawing the upper on the last.
4. Once the process is finished, IPDSG grips’ claws open and the upper mounted on last goes to the next step.

CAP ADHESIVE LASTING SECTION

1. The AGV carts put uppers on the robotic adhesive lasting machines.
2. The machine’s manipulator removes the upper from the AGV’s table and places it in an input bed.
3. A special gear nests an insole inside the half-finished shoe and applies the adhesive to the bonding surfaces.
4. The same gear lasts the cap and clips the bonding surfaces.
5. After the operation is finished, the manipulator takes the closed upper and puts it on the AGV. It’s time to move forward.

SOLE PICKING CENTER

1. The AGV mobile robot takes both right and left uppers to the rack with soles.
2. A robot maintaining the rack picks the required soles and puts them to a special slot of AGV opposite the corresponding uppers.
3. The pairs completed with soles with the help of AGV come to a sole cementing center.

SOLE CEMENTING CENTER

1. The AGV mobile robot moves closed uppers and soles along the robot production line step by step. The robots work sequentially, performing the following:
– The first one (right-to-left) roughs side-cemented surfaces.
– The second one roughs the bottom surface.
– Finally, the third one greases surfaces with cement.
The robots are straddled in pairs for being able to process the upper and sole simultaneously.
2. Once the greasing is finished, both upper and sole go to a drying room, and then to a cement sensitizing chamber.
3. A two-handed robot precisely positions and bonds uppers and soles.
4. Next, the same robot puts slightly unfinished shoes to a diaphragm press to enable reliable cementing.
5. The robotic manipulator takes the shoes and places them in an ADV-based special bracket. The bracket imitates human shin, coupled with arrangements for changing its width. The brackets adjust for high-heels shoes, boots and ankle boots.
6. Once the sole is cemented, the only two stages that remain are finishing and packaging.

FINISHING SECTION

Finishing is for eliminating flaws, as well as for imparting some new properties.
– Airbrushing corrects paint impurities, endings and scratches, including the minimal ones.
– Burnishing makes shoes softer, adds shine and protects against water penetration.
– Impregnant application boosts water resistance.

1. The AGV mobile robots transport the shoes across the robots for:
— spraying the correcting paint
— applying the cream
— burnishing the leather surfaces
— spraying the impregnation
— edge finishing
2. After the finishing, the brand-new shoes must be packed.

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PACKAGING SECTION

1. Upon arrival at the section, the shoes are wrapped in textile bags made from recycled materials.
2. The robotic manipulator takes a box out of one conveyor and takes a cover from another.
3. The same robot puts the box on a packaging table, which holds the box with mechanical claws.
4. Another robotic manipulator removes the shoes from the bracket and packages the pair into the box.
5. Once it’s done, the first robot closes the box and pushes it to the conveyor.
6. A robotic crane moves the box to transfer the pallet placed at the top of AGV.
7. AGV carts the pallets away for warehousing, from where they will begin their journey to customers.

INNOVATIONS IN EVERY PRODUCT

ICOL Smart Factories use a variety of unique proprietary technologies:
– robotized cutting centers
– automatic sewing machines
– carousel racks
– lining layer sputtering
– tensioning claw members
– robotized adhesive lasting machines
– diaphragm presses
– claws
– technological equipment
– software

Our proprietary AGV mobile robots handle all the inbound logistics tied on ICOL Group.

Each ICOL Group product is developing within a single ecosystem.

THE DEEPEST DELVE INTO THE BUSINESS DOMAIN

The ICOL Smart Factory is a brilliant result of the painstaking teamwork of roboteers, chemists, coders and scientists, coupled with best-in-class technologists, designers and marketers working with footwear brands and manufacturers.

For each product development cycle, a mandatory step starts right after R&D. We always build a fully functional Proof of Concept, deliver it to one of the biggest European footwear factories and kickstart the production. Then we test the product thoroughly and comprehensively in the real context.

EFFECTIVE START

The ICOL company is heavily involved in the digital transformation of every single company from the very start. We’re assisting our clients even after the successful launch.

1. Our experts conduct audits of the transformation planning and help find the best fitting scenarios.
2. Depending on the need, we get leasing companies involved in funding the projects.
3. We’re in touch 24/7 during the start-up stage and after.
4. You can get even more advantages becoming a part of the ICOL Ecosystem. Send us a line to find out more about the program.