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SACMI opens its centenary celebrations with the inauguration of the new Innovation Lab

Digital, personalised, sustainable: the new frontier of smart manufacturing. Held at SACMI Imola's 1919 Auditorium, the “Making Space for Innovation" (Dare spazio all’innovazione) meeting - moderated by Luca Orlando, the chief editor of Italy's financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore - was the first of six events on the topic of transforming organisational and business models in the Industry 4.0 era

SACMI Innovation Lab, SACMI's open-platform facility dedicated to developing know-how and expertise in enabling technologies and the Internet of Things, is now open. The Lab was inaugurated in parallel with “Making Space forInnovation”, the meeting that got the SACMI centenary celebrations under way and the first of six events focusing on the transformation of organisational and business models in the 4.0 era.

A candidate to become a node of the Emilia-Romagna High Tech Network, SACMI Innovation Lab is co-funded by the Regional Fesr programme 2014-2020 as part of a tender to attract investment in advanced Industry 4.0 sectors. “Today”, pointed out Regional Manufacturing Business Councillor, Palma Costi, “gives us an opportunity to highlight some of the strategic themes already outlined in our Employment Pact, the most important of which is the development of new, highly effective tools that make our businesses competitive and our region attractive to investment”. Also present at the meeting was Mauro Lusetti, President of Legacoop Nazionale, who praised SACMI as a “prime example of the cooperation system” in terms of its size, solidity and capacity to generate innovation.

A facility designed to support all of SACMI's core businesses – especially as regards automation in ceramic and packaging – the Lab is also an open platform that puts a true innovation package at the disposal of the regional SME system. Together with Protesa (reverse engineering, prototyping) and Iprel (hardware and software design for industrial automation, supervisors), the Lab represents a complete SACMI innovation “ecosystem” at the service of the wider business community.

As the President of SACMI, Paolo Mongardi explained during his opening remarks, innovation is, of course, a technological factor but, more crucially, a social and cultural one: “Innovation”, he pointed out, “generates true wealth to the extent that it is placed at the disposal of a region or community. In this way, then, innovation renews that inter-generational SACMI mission which is, today, facing new challenges, first and foremost those posed by sustainability and the circular economy”.

It's no chance occurrence, then, that the title SACMI chose for the six events starting today is “Re-thinking the future”. During the debate held at SACMI Imola's Auditorium 1919, moderated by the chief editor of Il Sole 24 Ore, Luca Orlando, SACMI shared information and observations with international academics and experts in fields relating to change, AI and process digitalization.

“By 2030 at least 15% of global GDP will be produced in some 40 megalopolises, mostly in Asia”, noted Raffaele Secchi, director of the Liuc Business School of Castellanza. When it comes to new technology, the pace of adoption (and, therefore, obsolescence) has quickened. Above all, billions of people are venturing onto a world stage where they are set to form a new middle class. New skills will be needed, new competitors will arise. This outlook is shared by Andrea Lipparini, Professor of Innovation Management at the University of Bologna and director of the Executive MBA course at the Bologna Business School; he believes that the competitiveness of our businesses will, looking ahead, greatly depend on their ability to keep on attracting young talents, people eager to choose our region so they can play their part in innovation.

Capable of replicating the workings of the human brain, cutting-edge AI is already being applied in manufacturing (the state of the art was illustrated by Luca Maria Gambardella, director of IDSIA, a key international artificial intelligence research institute based in Lugano, Switzerland) and is likely to have a considerable, yet-to-be-defined impact on human-machine relations in the industry and society of tomorrow. Journalist Luca Orlando wondered whether robots would “steal” work from people. Far from it: so far, pointed out Gambardella, new automation has always resulted in new employment opportunities.

Gildo Bosi, SACMI'sR&D Automation Manager, had the task of taking the audience through the actual work performed by the Lab. Of particular interest is the ability to develop digital twins (i.e. digital replicas), not just of machines and plants but also products and relative go-to-market strategies. The result? Maximised personalisation at affordable cost, the ability to solve problems in advance and a capacity to govern production and market scenarios that are already at the project development stage. It is, then, only natural for SACMI - the world's number one provider of technology to the ceramic industry and the leader in the closures field - to take the lead in this area of development by coordinating its expertise with that of labs belonging to the Network and universities.

And when it comes to expertise, one of the new Lab's key tasks - in addition to developing advanced projects for SACMI businesses and the wider regional business system - will be to train the professional figures needed to manage such future changes efficiently. Indeed - and all the speakers agreed on this point – it will be man and his capacity to imagine and govern change that drive the 4.0 technological revolution. At the end of the morning the participants were given a tour of the new Lab and the ceramic process Control Room.


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