SPS Italia in Parma, the reference event in our country for digital automation, has just concluded. Almost 37,000 participants and over 800 exhibitors enlivened the fair, which returned after two years of break due to the pandemic. The many technological innovations presented confirm a constant evolution of manufacturing driven by digitalization, advanced automation, AI and IoT, edge computing and environmental sustainability.
One of the most interesting topics is 5G. The real revolution brought by this technology will be seen in the professional field, more than in the consumer one. In 2020, the technological standards of phase 2, called “industrial 5G”, were defined, and last year the first industrial devices ready to exploit these features began to arrive on the market. The commercial cases are still few, but the potential has already been demonstrated in the experiments carried out in recent years.
Another focus of SPS Italia was sustainability. More and more innovations in the field of smart industry are made by giving priority to the sustainability of the processes and materials used, the efficiency of products and the decarbonisation of production activities. A study carried out by SPS in collaboration with the partners ANIE Energia, + CIM4.0, MADE Competence Center I4.0 and Porsche Consulting, highlighted how 90% of manufacturing companies have already started sustainability programs and 60% of these have a strategic value. Over 45% of companies expect to see the first results of these interventions within two years.
The digital and ecological transition can be considered two sides of the same coin and will guide the next developments in manufacturing. Technologies play a very important role in this step. “Tween transitions” are not limited to the environmental dimension but involve a 360-degree transformation. They also lead companies to innovate organizational models, processes and products to respond to the new expectations of end-users, including on ease of use and service.
The digital transition also has the advantage of transforming sustainability from cost to value thanks to the PNRR which becomes the activator of a green evolution process for the country. But in order to fully realize these changes, especially in SMEs, it is necessary to focus on cultural evolution and training not only for entrepreneurs but also for technicians and specialized staff.
Another interesting topic that emerged during SPS Italia is the decentralization of intelligence within a machine or an automated system. Sensors are now being developed in an increasingly smart way to perform functions once delegated to central control units. It is possible to employ sensors that detect machine wear, RFID tags that tell the machine if it is configured correctly or I / O modules that can independently decide to operate an actuator. For example, the new sensors are able to autonomously identify any jams in a goods sorting line along a conveyor belt and react to remove the block. Radar sensors detect the presence and distance of vehicles, such as trucks or forklifts, near logistic gates for loading and unloading, thus contributing to work safety. Decentralized intelligence turns machine data into vital information, paving the way for a new era of automation.
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