Association Membership and Competitiveness

On the very pages of the InMotion magazine, much has been made recently of the revolutionary changes taking place across the industrial landscape, whether this be in terms of convergence in design and production, technological innovation in production tools, process automation, data management and so on.
Such changes are necessary, technological innovation, cultural and procedural change, the concepts at the root of Industry 4.0 are exactly what is required to give the industrial platform of the most advanced nations new competitiveness and energy.
The recent renewal of production systems across many Italian companies has been the reason national manufacturing has enjoyed a period of sustained growth, growth now sadly being undermined by the a slashing of incentives directed towards Industry 4.0 and the general lack of focus being shown by the present government towards the needs of industry. However, this is the moment for manufacturers to get away from the idea of following a simple solution like incentives, and embrace the true meaning of Industry 4.0, the cultural transformation that lies at the heart of industrial success. The challenge is now to render this newly re-found competitiveness, permanent, using the temporarily granted access to eased investment to create a mature industrial panorama that switches the idea of competitiveness from a mere cost cutting operation to that of symbiotic, virtuous behaviour. This will mean creating a set of behavioural codes that start from the radical reviewing of company process and fully exploit the potential offered by the integration of design and production systems as well as that of production and quality control, creating the launch-pad for the acceleration that such cultural change can engender.
In other words, the wisest companies who benefitted from the incentives can now benefit once more, having the new, speedy, automated, integrated systems in place and being able to share design and production data.
This alone, however, will not be enough. If the objective is to avoid the risks of an up and coming potential recession, stemming partly from a short sighted political project ignoring the needs of the productive system, it clearly becomes imperative to make the step to a cultural change in which the mentality is substantially different. The goal will be to network among companies in the same sector, the most effective way to fight back against the problem of small company size that Italy undoubtedly suffers from. No longer can suppliers be considered golden geese forever laying eggs, but rather potential partners in “supply” who can listen to what companies have to say as well as what they are asking for, pushing for collaboration and creative solutions by maximising the potential new technology now gives us as well as working hand in hand with the academic field meaning bringing through the talented professionals of the future, today so sadly lacking, who are able to seamlessly converge the needs of design, production and quality control. These examples are just a few of the ways in which association membership can help a company to evolve, always keeping globalized competitiveness in mind and, not forgetting, that of national strategy.
Will it be easy? We don’t think so, in fact, such a transformation will be anything but, requiring great determination. It is, however, a change that Italian companies must face, whether they be local family run businesses or global multi-national operations, to be able to win on a global stage.
All associations, and ours in particular, embrace this task. It is the associate and supply chain responsibility to ensure that each one of us, and in so doing the entire country, can take advantage of the development of “collective intelligence”.
I’m pleased to cede the floor to Cesare Cianci, Managing Director at Klingelnberg Italia.