by Fabio Udine, ANIE Automazione Managing Board
The growing impetus given by the Impresa 4.0 project has led companies to face up to complex issues the comprehension of the real scope of which is not always immediate. Although the project motivations are aimed at competitive improvement, to be achieved through the efficiency of production processes, it is not always clear that this objective is only part of the problem that is mainly represented by the need to define a new business model to be pursued, to face new market challenges and above all guarantee sustainability over time. Addressing these issues requires clarity on strategies and priority of implementation, starting from an objective analysis of risks and opportunities that characterize the activity of each company. The ability to assess current and future scenarios, those external of an objective nature (general economic trends, final markets, competitors, technological evolutions) and those internal of a subjective nature (criticality of the supply chain, availability of competences and adequate infrastructures, social structure, expectations of the components), will be essential to understand the context in which the company moves. Data on the development of innovation linked to Impresa 4.0 confirm the different approach shown by the operators. Large companies have proved to be more receptive, having structures capable of conducting the most appropriate analyzes, and financial resources necessary to cover any corrections in case of evaluation errors. Quite different is the case of SMEs with the greatest difficulty in adapting to the need for innovation. The diffusion of themes and implications is now known; however, there is a difficulty in transposing all its facets and going beyond the appeal generated by the great potential that factory automation expresses unequivocally. The fear of failure or distrust in dealing with similar realities and the unclear explanation of management’s expectations, which often coincides with property and its family members, are impeding elements. Other critical factors may be the lack of knowledge of international markets, the rooting of past experiences and the difficulty in the process of aggregation to create a system. The coherent development of the innovative program will require the provision of assessment tools to optimize and speed up the decision-making process, which will be all the more effective as the skills of those who will have to evaluate them will be greater. The market dynamics and consequent challenges will put the need to adapt the capacity to react to events, even by modifying the original strategic directions. In this case, for SMEs, the paradigm is: Innovation = Consistent development of the business model.