Industry is an important sector for the European economy, which continues to generate growth and employment. In fact, the European Parliament estimates that more than 80% of exports and 80% of private research and innovation are to the industrial sector.
The second sector has undergone several revolutions that have extraordinarily implemented its potential: the steam engine and coal have overturned traditional 19th-century manufacturing methods, mass production coupled with the use of electricity at the factory and the assembly has characterized history up to the 70s of the ‘900, electronics and information technology provided the basis for a potentially endlessly evolving process of innovation.
Today, we are talking about a fourth generation of industries called Smart Factories, defined in Angela Merkel’s words as “the complete transformation of the entire industrial production sphere through the fusion of digital and internet technology with the industry traditionally understood. “Industry 4.0 is capable of producing disruptive effects on the global economy and our lives. The most innovative technological developments on which they can count are:
- Cyber-physical systems for monitoring and controlling physical production processes. Such technologies make use of sensors, intelligent robots, advanced devices.
- Network communication, understood as an internet technology capable of connecting machinery, plant, systems and people within the company and not (suppliers, distributors, customers)
- Simulations of product design and production process
- Collection of large amounts of data and their analysis, supported by cloud computing tools
- Improved worker support, thanks to robots, increased reality, and intelligent work tools It is possible to expect many benefits, ie greater flexibility of production with the possibility of creating mass customization for many product classes, speed in production and product improvement, superior quality and significant decrease of production error, increase of productivity and consumer involvement in the product design process.