The Italian industry market 4.0 in 2020 reached €4.1 billion, with an increase of 0.2%, driven mainly by IT technologies, which weigh 85% of the expenditure, compared with 15% of the OT (Operational Technology).

This is the research carried out by the Industry 4.0 Transition Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano.

The investments of manufacturing companies are concentrated mainly in connectivity and data acquisition projects, i.e. Industrial Internet of Things, which are worth 2.4 billion euros and 60% of the expenditure, and industrial analytics, with 685 million and 17% of the market.

The rest of the expenditure on 4.0 solutions is divided into cloud manufacturing (390 million, 8%), consultancy and training services (275 million, 7%), advanced automation (215 million, 5%), additive manufacturing (92 million, 2%) and

Market growth was lower than forecast in 2019 (+20%), but also very positive, considering that the estimates made during the first lockdown showed a 5% decrease.

The forecast for 2021 indicates a further acceleration of expenditure, at a rate of +12% to +15%, exceeding €4.5 billion, driven in particular by cloud manufacturing (+25-30%), advanced automation (+15-20%), and The growth of services continues, with an increase of 10-15% expected.

How to Do Industry 4.0 in Italy

There are about 1,400 applications of Industry 4.0 used by manufacturing companies, 28% more than in 2019.

The most common are Industrial IoT solutions, equal to a quarter of the total (380, +31%), often combined with analytics algorithms and artificial intelligence. Advanced HMI technologies, such as wearables and man-machine interfaces, are followed to acquire and transmit data in visual, vocal and tactile format (286, +15%); advanced automation (241, +5%), i.e. i.e.

Transition 4.0 in progress

The opportunities of the National Transition 4.0 Plan are known to manufacturing companies: 83% of the companies interviewed by the Observatory know the tax credit for investments in capital goods, 55% for research, development and innovation and 52% for training.

Companies hope that it will be accompanied by other forms of incentive to accompany market growth. Over the next six months, the most felt needs are tax reductions on factory operators to lower labour costs (55%) and incentives for recruitment (41%).

During the pandemic, smart working has spread also in manufacturing companies. 37% of companies have introduced flexibility in the management of working hours, another 37% of jobs and workplaces, one fifth in shift management, 28% use tools to track skills, 19% monitor workers’ health conditions and 17% leave free choice between 40% of the training, quality control and plant monitoring activities have been remotely monitored, and 25-30% of maintenance, workshop management, machine testing.

For businesses it is essential to have IoT tools for data driven processes (38%), use digital dashboards (34%), remote collaboration platforms (25%) and cybersecurity technologies (22%). From an organisational point of view, however, most companies feel the need to increase autonomy (31%) and multi-purpose operators (29%) and involve them more in the digitisation of production processes (29%), as well as developing their technical, managerial and decision-making skills.

Manufacturing companies are also aware of the competitive advantage that can give a strong commitment to sustainability. 15% have already completed sustainability projects in the operations, about one third have activated some and only 3% are not affected. 43% did so to anticipate market trends and respond to customer demands, over a third to build the image of a sustainable brand.

Companies monitor mainly process waste indicators, such as waste and pollutant emissions (51%), water consumption, materials and energy throughout the different stages of the production process (48%), but a quarter of the sample still does not measure any sustainability performance indicators.

Industry 4.0 and service

According to the report of the Industry 4.0 Transition Observatory in 2020, the 4.0 services reached a value of about 275 million euros, +8% compared to the previous year, driven mainly by operational advice, while strategic advice continues to find little space. Despite the initial fears, consulting companies seem to have managed to transfer their activities to digital channels, greatly reducing the possible effects of the pandemic and opening up to a business model based on the provision of more sustainable and valuable products and services for the customer sServiceiza

Two thirds of the companies are already used to using capital goods and software in comparison with a monthly or annual fee, but the opportunities offered by the connection of the machines are still little exploited by the companies.

Only a quarter of respondents use information services associated with a machine, such as the detection of malfunctions or malfunctions, or preventive maintenance services based on machine conditions, less than one in ten uses services for better energy management of machines and very few companies have developed solutions

Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS), is still unknown to two thirds of companies, but it begins to spread around the world in the form of digital platforms that bring a small revolution in the supply of mechanical parts. Only in Europe, there are already five fully operational platforms.

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