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CODE 98960
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The program is divided into three parts, which meet the need to: 1) offer a global view of the automatic machine as a unit having certain economic and functional requirements; 2) provide an in-depth analysis of the constructive elements of the machine (design, construction and installation issues -  selection of sensory-actuation systems; 3) present an overview of some modern industrial embodiments. The course includes visits to industries, seminars and conferences.



To provide, by means of theoretical concepts and project-based learning, the knowledge of those engineering methods required to develop a project of industrial automation: from functionality identification to the integrated design of both mechanical structure and sensory-actuation subsystem. The course is composed of lectures and lab exercises (by means of a dedicated CAD/CAE software tool)


  • To present the main subsystems and components of an automatic machine

  • To describe the mode of operation of an automatic machine

  • To introduce a methodological design framework for the conception of novel solutions 

  • To introduce methods and tools for the integrated mechanical design of automated production systems

Course nature

Basic introduction to general industrial aspects 

  • General issues related to industrial automation

  • Functional characteristics of mono and multi-purpose automation systems

In-depth study of some particular interesting topics for the mechanical engineer

  • Actuation system (electromechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic)

  • Operating modes of automatic machines


The course is structured into equally subdivided theoretical and practical lectures.


1. Production processes and their automation

We initially examine some general aspects related to production processes, their automation and concurrent product-process development. We then introduce some definitions about automated production system, automatic machinery and automated production line. With reference to the various process types, the concepts of functional flexibility and integration are briefly recalled.

2. CAD/CAE tools for the integrated design of automatic machineries

We examine the engineering tools employed in the integrated design of automatic machineries. Some examples of methods for Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and for the generation of Engineering/Manufacturing Bill Of Materials (EBOM - MBOM) are also provided.

3. Productive capability of automatic machineries

We examine some of the fundamental concepts at the basis of the measurement of the automatic machinery productive capability, investigating the theoretical and actual output parameters and commenting some important aspects.

4. Operational architectures of automatic machineries: part one

We examine the main types of automatic machines, which are classified according to their operational structures (actual number of operating systems involved, working principle, type of interaction with the product). For each architecture type, we investigate the principal functional parameters through the observation of some real industrial applications.

5. Operational architectures of automatic machineries: part two

We conclude the survey of the main automatic machinery architectures, focusing on high-speed machines with continuous transfer flow of product units. Many examples from industrial practice help clarifying the continuous machine concept.

6. Feeding systems design

Functional and design aspects of buffering and feeding systems for automatic machineries are presented, with main emphasis on sorting, orienting and selection of products by means of vibrating systems.

7. Elements of patent laws and regulations

In the world of automatic machineries, the protection of the intellectual property is a topic of paramount importance. Therefore, the basic concepts related to patent laws and regulations are recalled.

8. Actuation systems: an overview

We first examine the basic functions of the automatic machinery subsystems, namely the actuation system, the sensory system, the governing unit. Afterwards, we focus on the actuation system, examining its basic functions, components, and possible architectures (mono- or multi- actuation systems). Some details about the optimal selection of servo-drives components are also provided.

9. Design of Vacuum Handling Devices

The basic principles of vacuum circuits commonly used for manipulation purposes are described. After a short introduction about the vacuum cups functioning concept, the methods and tools for the computer-aided design of Vacuum Handling Devices are presented.

10. Lab Exercises: Software CAD/CAE per la progettazione integrata

The Lab Exercises require the use of a dedicated CAD/CAE software for the integrated design of automatic machineries. After the first six weeks of lectures, the students will be requested to solve an industrial case study, with the constant support of the lecturer.


Compulsory Textbooks

  • Lecture notes and video tutorials provided by the lecturer (available on AulaWeb).

Consultation Textbooks

  • G. Pahl and W. Beitz, Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach, 2nd ed. Springer, 1998.



Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



Project evaluation and Knowledge assessment of theoretical concepts.


The exam consists of a single oral exam and it is divided into two evaluation phases:

  1. Project Evaluation. The report, discussed during the interview, concerns a project, associated with a CAD / CAE laboratory experience, and it is written in the form of a "project report". It makes it possible to assess that the student has profited from the laboratory experience and he/she is able to write a project report in a professional manner. The mark, out of thirty, accounts for 50% of the final mark.
  2. Evaluation of the knowledge of the theoretical parts. The remaining part of the interview concerns the architectures of automatic machines and the optimal selection of actuation systems from datasheets. This part of the oral exam aims at verifying that the student has reached an adequate knowledge of the theoretical topics. The mark, out of thirty, accounts for 50% of the final mark.

The final mark is given by the weighted average of the evaluations referred to in points 1) and 2).


Pre-requisites :

Basic knowledge of any 3D CAD software (e.g. PTC Creo)