The COVID-19 pandemic does not stop the 4.0, the Italian case

The unexpected arrival of the 2019-2020 Coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on the 4.0 industry‘s progress and investment. According to recent data from the Politecnico di Milano University, Italian companies are already testing the ground in preparation for the development of a new impetus for the manufacturing industry.

Italian industry 4.0 after COVID-19

When we talk about industry 4.0, we refer to those companies that have long embraced the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, which wants companies to be strictly automated and interconnected. In other words, it is the kind of business that exploits the activities that can be declined in big data, open data, internet of things, “machine to machine” and cloud computing.

Let’s talk about 4.0 sector in Italy: in 2019, the market reached a value of 3.9 billion euros, up 22% compared to the previous year. A value that, in the last four years, has substantially tripled, to be divided into connectivity and data acquisition projects, analytics, cloud manufacturing, advanced automation, additive manufacturing and advanced human-machine interface technologies. The data, reported by the Industry 4.0 Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano have been presented at the conference “Digital New Normal: being 4.0 at the time of COVID“.

We think that in 2019 the 4.0 applications of Italian companies have significantly increased. More than 40% of companies have invested more than in 2018, and on average today the attention is focused on Cloud and Analytics solutions for the Supply Chain, as well as IoT for factories, while a glimmer of light is beginning to be seen for artificial intelligence applications. As is easy to predict, business return takes time, although only 1% of the samples surveyed showed disappointment with the 4.0 solutions adopted.

Restarting with Industry 4.0

In the great uncertainty of the economic recovery, companies hope that the Government will not stop the “digital climb”, in particular they expect a reduction of taxes on the next accounting years. Many companies are also calling for a relaunch of super and hyper depreciation for capital goods for the purchase of industrial machinery, which is far more desirable than tax credits for research and development or incentives for intangible assets, recruitment and training.

“In this new phase – says the Scientific Manager of the Industry 4.0 Observatory -, Italian industry has the task of being the engine of the restart, in a context in which digital transformation becomes even more relevant not only to ensure operational processes, but also to give new effectiveness to decisions, accelerate the conversion of products, monitor and manage risks. Companies that had previously invested have benefited greatly from this, but this is an opportunity for all to take a step forward in digital. In this sense, the Government’s commitment to give stability to the Transformation 4.0 plan is positive”. The goal is to take the industry 4.0 towards: social distance monitoring to work remotely, simulation for decision making, remote management, meetings and training and non-stop new product design and new service design. In other words, a few more years and, even and despite Covid, companies will have to work hard to digitize their production processes and, reducing the physical costs of the activity as much as possible. The alternative? Staying inexorably behind.

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