Recent findings from the “Osservatorio Smart Manufacturing” report, a study conducted by the School of Management, Polytechnic University of Milan (Politecnico di Milano), show that companies in Italy are investing in new technologies such as: Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud, Advanced automation and 3D printing, gearing up for what is known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or as the era of “Smart Manufacturing”. But this begs the question: are Italian companies or is the Italian government doing enough to keep up the pace with other leading manufacturing countries?
Thanks to digitalisation the Italian manufacturing sector, world renowned for the production of high quality products, is finally beginning to come out of the economic downturn. However, the report points out that for this to become a strong, positive trend the country must design and implement a sound national program, similar to those already in place in other countries such as Germany, the USA and the UK.
As mentioned above, Italian companies have begun to invest in Smart Manufacturing technology but, the rate at which Italian companies are adopting new technology is slowed down by cultural and organisational factors as well as by a lack of supply capability. “Smart Manufacturing is key in stimulating growth for Italian industry – explained Alessandro Perego, scientific co-director of the “Observatory Smart Manufacturing” – it allows people and businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively as well as adding a good degree of flexibility. Ultimately, it allows businesses to change the production processes and eventually to develop new products.”
“Smart Manufacturing is expected to become the standard for companies operating in the manufacturing industry – says Andrea Sianesi, co-scientific director of the Osservatorio.”
“In Italy, Smart Manufacturing has it peaks and troughs – says Giovanni Miragliotta, Research Director of the Osservatorio. Data shows that large and medium companies in Italy are already embracing Smart Manufacturing. However, data also shows that there is a lack of long-term strategic vision at company but also at national level. Smart Manufacturing doesn’t mean choosing to adopt a type of technology over another but rather knowing how to ‘orchestrate’ the digital revolution to transform the industrial processes as a whole.”
Smart Manufacturing offers full benefits if implemented and developed at national and international level.
In Italy, in 2012 the non-profit association “Cluster National Factory intelligent” was formed, which has, among others, the objective of developing and speeding up change within the industry, involving companies, universities, research centres and associations.
“Considering that Italy has the second largest manufacturing sector in Europe and that this sector and the support industry, contributes 20 per cent towards national wealth, it would be good if institutional bodies would take the lead in creating a national program/agenda, similar to which other countries like Germany have already done – explains Miragliotta.
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