Thanks to the One-Shot® Method – the innovative method that is revolutionising the automotive sector, the upholstering process of the c lower pillar is now completely automated. and productivity increased to 110%.

Today I want to talk to you about one of our most innovative products. I’m referring to the C Lower Pillar, already industrialised on the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

I’ve been thinking long and hard how to best describe to you the changes that the innovation of this part has brought about.

To convey this, I have decided to start from the beginning, from something that pertains to you, me and anybody who looks to the future and who wants to innovate in order to improve their way of working. I am talking about the rise and evolution of the car as a means of transport and as a private possession.

Let me try to explain what I mean.

I start from one premise: mankind has always sought speed. The reasons for this are manifold: overcoming limitations, reaching the destination in shorter time, saving time etc…. Thinking about it, all these reasons pertain to the work we do.

Not only cars, but all the means of transport have developed along these lines to achieve these objectives.

Yet, if we look really closely, nothing was as much of an innovative breakthrough in terms of freedom and independence and nothing hit the mark as much as the car did. Especially if we compare it with going on foot.

These are namely the features that make the car into the synonym of freedom and efficiency:

  • Speed: the car is the evolution of walking and makes you save time. If you go the same way, by car you’ll get there faster.
  • The need to reach an exact destination: trains and planes are incomplete from this point of view, because they always necessarily require an extra means of transport.
  • The ability to organise the journey quickly: if you go by car, you don’t need to plan in advance.
  • Comfort: the car offers comforts that are designed and produced especially for the client, hence the car is a personal and customisable product.

You see, this evolution that I have just explained has a lot in common with the car part that I’d like to talk to you about.

The One-Shot® C Lower Pillar differs from any other C Lower Pillar because its production process was completely automated by SAPA, which entails sizeable advantages.

It’s as if SAPA’s One-Shot® C Lower Pillar was the car and the other processes were the pedestrians.

When we decided to innovate our C Lower Pillar through the One-Shot® Method, we focussed on how it was being produced traditionally and for each production phase we analysed the issues.

The manual upholstering work flow is namely made up of many phases – I’m sure you know them well.

The traditional process is still carried out manually by a skilled worker, and this comes with risks of unforeseen issues, which are certainly counterproductive for your work.

In particular, the traditional production method is characterised by:

  1. Long production times: because a foaming process is foreseen, the traditional C Lower Pillar production requires specialised workers, with a 40-minute production time per piece.
  2. Manual production: since the base is produced by hand, there’s a higher risk of errors and especially, there’s more waste.
  3. High cost: producing by hand requires having a lot of workers, hence more quality assurance personnel and more training. In this way, traditional C-Lower Pillars production costs are 40% higher than with the One-Shot® method.

We tried to sum up the problem:

We needed to find a way to upholster the PVC piece of the C Lower Pillar with leather and fabric at the same time.

So, at SAPA we decided to create two moulds, one for the plastic and one for the foaming, and to join the two processes in one single automated step.

I guess you’re wondering how this is possible? Let me explain.

The One-Shot® Method is a work process that aims at optimising the production phases and in most cases allows us to produce a part in just one step.

This very clearly brings several advantages, like:

  • Reduction of the parts’ weight
  • Better cost efficiency
  • High quality performances

In the case of the C Lower Pillar, after joining and positioning the two pieces together with the fabric, the leather and PVC onto a machine, a robot controls the position of the sewing, it applies the glue and welds everything automatically.

All this takes place in 80 seconds.

With the following results:

  • Better quality and a robust, standardised and GUARANTEED process: the machine process is 100% certified while a process based on a human operator yields lower quality and has a higher risk of differences among the pieces.

This means that you will no longer have to worry about imperfections and you can save on the cost of specialised workers.

  • High production capability and high production volumes: Producing 1,000 C-Lower Pillars per day means fulfilling a demand for 500 sets per day, or 120,000 cars per year.

This means that you will improve the quantitative performance of your business.

  • Process and technology applied for the first time to big pieces like the C-Lower Pillar

This is an innovative investment in technology for you and your car maker.

  • Less costs: if you draw a business case and you analyse manual production vs automated production – even in the case of equal cost of manpower, automated production costs less.

That is to say: you can invest in other parts that you have issues with.

We are talking about increasing productivity to 110%. You’ve read correctly: 110%.

In short, at SAPA we were able to attain the production of 1,000 C Lower Pillars per day thanks to this method, with a cycle time of 80 seconds.

It looks like a revolution and I can assure you that it is.

Just like the car was a revolution.


Kind regards,

Giovanni Affinita,

Executive Director and Member of the Board of Directors at SAPA


If you’d like to find out more on SAPA’s patent for the one-shot® C lower pillar or use this technology immediately to optimise production times and increase productivity, fill in the form below.

we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!


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