Productivity, reliability and flexibility and are key issues for modern industrial plants. The cell automation of manufacturing and assembly processes often requires the introduction of special-purpose stations, based on the specific product. The conception, development and realization of special-purpose machines involves heterogeneous fields of expertise (mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, information technology). Three-dimensional modelling, advanced multibody simulation with contacts and flexibilities, finite element analysis are indispensable tools in the design of completely new prototypes, with innovative functioning principles. The DIME Department has a long history in this area. Some examples are assembly stations for electrical stators (Fig. 1) and high-speed postal automation machines (Fig. 2).