The manufacturing world is on the verge of far-reaching change that may even take on the connotations of a new (the fourth) industrial revolution. The revolution facing us requires in-depth integration of digital technologies into industrial manufacturing processes, changing the nature of products and production methods. The elective home for this new industrial world is indicated by the “smart factory”, “advanced manufacturing”, “industry 4.0” paradigm. It can be traced to a technological breakthrough characterised by the fusion between the real world of industrial plant and the virtual world of the so-called Internet of Things.
The new digital and flexible factory will be characterised by three conditions. The internal communication flow will be continuous and in real time between workstations, integrating production and warehouse departments; communication possibilities will provide the production line with a trouble-shooting capacity and enable remote control of production, while the flexibility of systems will allow product customisation to meet the needs of clients. Secondly, the production chain will be re-constructed and simulated in a virtual environment in order to test it, identify and solve problems and allow for staff training. Finally, the factory will also be smart, in that it will be able to procure energy efficiently, without waste and at the lowest possible cost. In the new factory, people will retain the essential task of control and correction of production parameters, as well as creative input; while technologies – already extensively available – will enable a revolution not as much in terms of technology as such but in processes, which will affect the approach to work.
This is a cultural revolution that involves not only large companies but also moves down the subcontracting chain to affect smaller manufacturers and related services, to the point that the already thin line between secondary and tertiary sectors is further eroded, where assets (such as smart phones) are commodities leased complete with a service contract. A rather particular implementation of this phenomenon has already emerged in the world of more proactive small business and craftsmen and takes the shape of makers: digital artisans re-discovering the value of small-scale production for a niche market and customised products backed up by solid after-sales services, thanks to designing, prototyping and digital fabrication tools.
The research Factory of the Future. Technology and the human factor in the digital factory investigates the impact of the most advanced technologies involving a group of leading companies in their respective sectors seek, in order to analyse the impact of digital innovation on Italian industry, the willingness of companies to accept this paradigm and their readiness for change. The survey aims, in particular, to verify which needs in terms of investments and human resources, and which institutional relationships with other businesses and local systems should be implemented.
Some company involved: Alstom Ferroviaria, Ansaldo Energia and Ansaldo Sviluppo Energia, Avio Aero and Avio Additing Manufacturing, Brembo, Centro Ricerche Fiat, Comau, Ducati Motor, Giletta, FCA Cassino and Maserati, Kuenhe-Nagel, Ferrari, Iveco, Fincantieri and Rina Group, Pirelli, Reply, Solvay, St Microelectronics, Trm.
The main results have already been presented in several conferences and debates.
/Period 2014, 2015
/Partners Innovazione Apprendimento Lavoro, Fim-Cisl Piemonte, Istituto Superiore Mario Boella
/To know more
- The research project
- Conference program 27.11.15 (italian)
- Speech: Mazali, Colombo, Serio, Sansone 27.11.15 (italian)
- Research Abstract (ed. Guerini e Associati) (italian)