Piaggio Fast Forward: A New Path From A to B

Meet Piaggio Fast Forward

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Piaggio Fast Forward — innovation branch and subsidiary arm of the parent company, the Piaggio Group — was formed to redefine the movement of people and goods. While the Piaggio Group is famously responsible for motorized vehicle brands like Vespa and Aprilio, Piaggio Fast Forward, located in Charlestown, Massachusetts, was formed for the purpose of human-robotics interaction experimentation. The PFF team set out to create lightweight machines on the scale of real human function — creations that would move through the world at “just the right scale: larger than aerial drones, but smaller than car and trucks.” As Nazareth Ekmekjian, Prototyping Designer at Piaggio Fast Forward, stated, “[Piaggio] ... knew the future was somewhere between robotics and automation and how you move people and goods.” He emphasized that the company ultimately wants to “facilitate and enable humans to move more often and further, rather than moving for them,” as it seems so many modern robots are constructed to do. 

Progressive Engineering

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From the beginning, Piaggio Fast Forward had MakeTime in mind for their production process — even before they had any designs or prototypes and even, as Ekmekjian jokes, before they had an office. “[PFF]...was drawn to the idea of on-demand manufacturing and on-demand fabrication as ways to reduce overhead,” Ekmekjian explained, “When you can build things on the spot, you don’t have the burden of inventory and space.” The company focuses on staying lean and agile, overall. Employing a small team, moving quickly from design to design, focusing on engineering, efficiency and precision iterations — PFF pinpointed MakeTime as a production system that would pair well with their needs. “You get the part when you need the part,” he pointed out, “with a relatively quick turnaround time. It just made sense for us.” 

The PFF team almost immediately started using the MakeTime platform to procure parts for their rst prototype designs. Ekmekjian laughed, “it, the whole thing, became really easy — you just upload, set your specifications cations, and you’re good to go.” For a company committed to nding the best way for people and goods to get from A to B, “faster, further and better,” MakeTime’s unconventional production path, created for peak functionality, was ideal. 

The New Path From A to B

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Simplified RFQ, production consistency and insight into part manufacturability are all elements MakeTime provides that help keep PFF’s CNC part procurement streamlined and their prototyping process honed. As a smaller experimental branch of a much larger company, PFF also bene ts from keeping their operational costs low, allowing them to focus more resources on the business of design and engineering. Because MakeTime provides total production management — calculating estimates, sourcing high-quality materials, finding machines with exact capabilities and tracking production — the PFF team can stay lean and efficient without sacrificing expertise or quality. 

Their first working prototype, a lightweight, intelligent cargo bot named Gita, was released just a year and a half after their formation in 2015. Gita is only the first of an entire portfolio of vehicles similarly designed for what the company calls “movability.” Instead of taking people somewhere the way a car or motorcycle might, Gita is intended to make their journey easier — following a human operator or moving autonomously in a mapped environment. Best adapted to complex urban environments, both inside and outside, the hardy, ergonomic vehicle is 26-inches tall, can hold up to 40 pounds and can travel up to 22 miles per hour. Gita is a perfect representation of PFF’s values and vision, beautifully engineered to match and complement human mobility wherever the future may roam. 

Key Takeaway

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Piaggio Fast Forward, a subsidiary branch of the Piaggio Group creating non-traditional mobility solutions, uses MakeTime’s innovative production path to remain agile and inventory-free without sacrificing quality, time or capabilities. 

About Piaggio Fast Forward

Piaggio Fast Forward, an innovation branch of the Piaggio Group, designs compact, intelligent vehicles which complement human mobility and expand human capability. As a company PFF believes that “the future is in human and robot interaction, and not replacement."

About MakeTime

MakeTime is a tech company streamlining the production of CNC machined parts. Powered by data and the nation’s largest network of qualified and connected suppliers, we focus on reducing the manufacturing timeline, simplifying the production process and harnessing the power of U.S. manufacturing.The result is a reliable path to prototyping, production and aftermarket CNC machining that is fast, intuitive and cost- competitive. MakeTime is located in Lexington, KY in the heart of American manufacturing country.