Industry 4.0: Automation, Interconnection, Optimisation

Industry 4.0: Automation, Interconnection, Optimisation

A moment of crisis that becomes an opportunity of change and growth. Industry 4.0, can be and must be all this for the Italian industry.

Create interconnected machine systems using digital technologies, automate and optimise work, improve productivity without giving up quality.

Industry 4.0, is at the centre of an ongoing global economic transformation and is fundamentally based on these principles.

The term Industry 4.0 indicates a new trend in industrial automation which integrates new manufacturing technologies, to improve working conditions, create new business models and increase productivity and quality of the plants“(Source: Wikipedia).

Industry 4.0 as a Transition and Competitive Drive

Therefore, what is now happening is a transition that can really give an important drive to the competitiveness of the entire production system.

In Italy, in particular, this process has been legitimated and has found the resources thanks to the recent “National Plan of Recovery and Resilience” – part of the 750 billion euro Next Generation EU (NGEU) program – which aims to reinforce “the rate of innovation of the industrial and entrepreneurial fabric and incentive investments in advanced technologies; research, development and innovation, and in managerial competences. (…) The plan for the 4.0 Transition gives a new impulse to the digital transition of the industries and to the rate of innovation of the industrial and entrepreneurial fabric of our Country, including the editorial industry, while incentivising investments in cutting-edge technologies as well as in research, development and innovation“.

A Tangible Answer to Overcome our Weaknesses

These inputs and resources arrive after two extremely difficult years, especially for the manufacturing sectors, which already were in a fragile economic, social and environmental situation even before the pandemic. Just to give the idea:

  • between 1999 and 2019 Italian GDP had grown only by 7.9%,
  • in the same period in Germany, France and Spain the GDP had respectively grown by 30.2%, 32.4% and 43.6%.
  • between 2005 and 2019, the number of people below the absolute poverty line has grown from 3.3 to 7.7% of the population, before a further increase of 9.4% in 2020.

The Only Option to Start Growing Again

Among the causes of this lethargy of the Italian manufacturing industry, the previously mentioned “National Plan of Recovery and Resilience” indicates “the inability of seizing the many opportunities relating to the new digital revolution. This slowness is mainly due to the lack of adequate infrastructures, and to the structure of the manufacturing system, characterized by small-medium companies, that most of the time are not sufficiently reactive in terms of new technologies and value-added production processes“.

Therefore, Industry 4.0 is not an optional but an absolute necessity.

SGL: Being an Industry 4.0, According to Us

In view of what has been described until now, I think – with a bit of satisfaction – that SGL represents a countertrend for our Country.

If the most important figure in our budget is represented by the industrial production, it means that the priorities identified by the National Plan of Recovery and Resilience are indeed part of our DNA. Making our plants smarter and more agile is in our opinion, the only path towards a constant increase of competitivity.

Speed, Efficiency, Optimisation

Modifying our production processes, trying to increase the speed and efficiency of the machines’ programming allows us to decrease the time dedicated to their physical and organisational setup. A process that heavily affects on manufacturing costs.

In this way, we can recall a specific operation more quickly, without having to reset the machine all over again.

To be more concrete, in SGL:

  • the physical setup of each procedure is photographed and saved in the company’s managerial software, using a dedicated app which we have developed together with our software house.
  • the organizational setup is also saved in the same app, therefore anybody can recall it with just a few clicks, when they need to upload a specific order. The required physical setup is then visualized on the screen and immediately available for use.

Artisanal Approach, Industrial Performance. This Is Our Secret.

This strategic and operative approach, really works. We have verified it directly and for this reason we have planned a few structural changes that will allow us to apply this method to all our production departments.

In fact, we believe that the keystone to digital transition is delegating to machines all those “simple” and repetitive operations which usually tend to be very time consuming. This allows the real professionals to use their skills for more important operations and to be more productive for the company. In this way, our human capital is truly enhanced and valorised.

Also our staff is facilitated and can dedicate more care and time to their work and to ensuring the premium quality of our products, with the opportunity to suggest new solutions where necessary. In this way the artisanal soul of our staff, which we consider an asset for our company, is even more valorised and appreciated.

New Machineries for New Solutions

The structural work to which I was referring before principally concerns the implementation of new machineries.

The last machines we have officially introduced in our plants are:

  • a trimming and beading machine. For their creation we called a local company with thirty-years of experience in this sector. Their range of products covers any market requirement, but we needed to go a step further. So, we worked together designing a customized and modulated solution, but equally user-friendly, that could allow us to insert and take out each component according to the type of work to be performed.
  • a bending press. In this case, the choice came from the reliability and precision guaranteed by a company that produces bending presses, guillotine shears and metal sheet processing plants since 1973, operating now in 33 different countries throughout the world. Even in this case, we addressed specific requests, which were completely fulfilled. This allowed us to receive the machinery we really needed and desired: easy to use, but extremely flexible, precise and performing.
  • a taping machine, created especially for us.

One of the things we love most in SGL is to find brilliant and strategic solutions not only for problems that occur to us, but also for the different and varied requests that our clients ask us to solve, everyday.

We also make treasure of the exchange of vision and ideas with them, and of the constant observation of what happens around us. I believe that this way of living our professional skills, is the reason why in such a critical and transitional moment we have never suffered nor been unprepared. Being an Industry 4.0 means being flexible while researching premium quality at every step. With our feet on the ground and our eyes looking towards the future.

Paolo Squaquara, CEO SGL