What are the challenges and opportunities offered by Industry 4.0? Are our companies, especially SMEs, ready to ride the wave? The Ambrosetti Club Innotech Community, in conjunction with Assolombarda, sat down together to try to answer this question.
By 2020, over 32 billion objects will be connected to the Internet (Internet of Things), producing one-third of the data available on a global level. Today, the additive manufacturing (3D printing) market is worth 4.1 billion dollars (2014). In 2020, that amount will be over 20 billion dollars. Are we ready for all this? The Ambrosetti Club Innotech Community, in conjunction with Assolombarda, sat down together to try to answer this question. The undisputed protagonists of this discussion were some Italy’s leaders in excellence, companies that have already put theory into practice.
For Italy, this will be a decisive challenge. Italy is ranked second in Europe for manufacturing in terms of value added, and fifth in the world for trade surplus. Unfortunately, these rankings are at-risk and the trend is not positive. If we look at the impact of manufacturing on GDP, we can see that Italy has dropped from a level of 20% in 2000 to 16% in 2016.
This decline must absolutely be turned around and Industry 4.0 represents an opportunity that can help us to change course.
While on one hand major companies and multinationals are moving in the direction of 4.0 through concrete initiatives and major investment in automation, many others (especially SMEs) have not yet launched significant initiatives.
The strong message emerging from companies is the need to take on the challenge and reap the opportunities of Industry 4.0 to increase competitiveness, productivity and jobs. The Calenda Plan calls for 10 billion euros in innovative investment over the period 2017-2020 which should lead to a 80-90 billion increase in private investment in 2017.
While it is true that revolution is “made in the company”, it is also—and above all—sustained on the country system level. Without an enabling ecosystem, companies cannot compete on an equal footing on an international level. Economic support for companies, development of advanced skills in school and spread of the digital culture are required to make Italy truly 4.0.
This is also an important occasion to capitalize on the technological excellence in the country which was applauded on numerous occasions during the meeting, and often recognized on an international level.
However, we must act urgently in an effort to respond rapidly to this (last?) call to arms in a strategic, system-wide and organizationally-oriented manner.
The advent of Industry 4.0 will modify normal working relations throughout manufacturing sectors. The two main currents will be greater flexibility in terms of where and how long people work, and greater transition between jobs and renewed importance of the role of digital training.
In the 4.0 factory, physical and digital systems will be increasingly interconnected and the (old) business models will probably no longer function.
In addition to investing in equipment that is more high-tech, more productive and more connected, the younger generation must be trained in 4.0 skills to guarantee a new and adequate professionalization of Digital Enterprise workers.
But let’s be honest, from this standpoint, Italy does not excel and school curricula do not seem to have grasped the sense of urgency felt in the business world.
For example, compared with Europe, ICT professionals are below the European average. According to the European Commission, each year Italy requires 150,000 additional IT experts, and it is estimated that in the future 90% of jobs will require some form of digital knowledge.
Taking part in this meeting were:
- Ali Reza Arabnia, Group Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer – Geico Taikisha
- Paolo Barbatelli, Chief Innovation Officer – Gruppo Rold
- Mario Corsi, Managing Director – ABB Italia
- Andrea Dell’Orto, Vice President – Assolombarda Confindustria Milano Monza Brianza; Executive Vice President – Dell’Orto S.p.A.
- Alfonso Fuggetta, Chief Executive Officer Cefriel – Politecnico Milano
- Adriano Scaburri, Chief Technology Officer – Whirlpool R&D
- Cristina Scocchia, President and Managing Director – L’Oréal Italia