The choice of the Government, the Industry 4.0 Plan to intervene on the enabling factors at horizontal level without focusing on specific sectors, with stakeholder coordination but without a managerial method, gains a positive opinion from the companies. The knowledge of the Plan has been diffused by the trade associations and, above all, by the supply system that has had the ability to seize the favorable disposition for investments by the companies. These indications emerge from the KPMG research, presented at the recent Leonardo Committee Annual Forum, regarding the effects on the Italian industrial system of the digital technologies implementation, the implementation methods of the Plan and its results.
The impacts of the Industry 4.0 Plan in Italy and, in general, of the fourth industrial revolution and digital technologies on the Italian production system were the main topic of the XVI Annual Forum of the Leonardo Committee, recently held in Milan, which analyzed, thanks to a KPMG research, how the Industry 4.0 Plan launched a year ago by the Italian Government has been received by entrepreneurs.
Organized in collaboration with Agenzia ICE, Confindustria and UniCredit, it is the annual event that involves institutions, entrepreneurs and representatives of the financial world in order to take stock of the Made in Italy situation and development prospects for Italian companies; KPMG Research was carried out on behalf of the Leonardo Committee on a panel of 330 companies in the manufacturing, construction and services fields and is the indicative of the companies’ sentiment but has no statistical significance.
The heart of Industry 4.0 can be identified there smart manufacturing as the connection of production, robotics and data in the perspective of overcoming the current industrial model, revolutionizing the very idea of the factory as we have created it up to now. With this premise Alessandro Carpinella, Partner, Corporate Finance of KPMG, starts the presentation of the Research results, highlighting that in order to evaluate the impacts of the Industry 4.0 Plan we must consider the characteristics of the Italian industrial structure, characterized by: a high number of SMEs; a small number of large private participants able to direct the transformation towards the manufacturing sector; few chain leaders able to coordinate the evolutionary process of value chains.
“This situation happily condemns us to a transformation from below”, is the comment by Carpinella, recalling that the Government has chosen to intervene on a horizontal level without focusing on specific sectors, opting for stakeholder coordination but without a managerial approach. This is a choice shared by the companies, the object of the KPMG research: “The main indication found in the feedback of entrepreneurs about the Industry 4.0 Plan in Italy is that the widespread and simple tools work”, underlines Carpinella, who specifies: “It is still too early to draw the conclusions that this choice is the basis for the recovery, in recent months, of investments, which had instead collapsed in the previous decade”. The facts show that the Government’s incentive plan met the favorable recovery moment regarding the investments in basic production factors, especially in the industrial sectors. In fact, the 4% growth in equipment production was registered (between January 2016 and July 2017) with an increase of 15% of the related turnover.
In more recent periods there have been positive dynamics in terms of gross fixed investments with a growth of 9% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period of the previous year, with an increase of 11,6% for machinery and 10,7% % for electrical and electronic equipment. The distribution of investments assigns a 35% importance to machinery and other equipment, 10% to electrical and electronic equipment, 18% to repair, maintenance and installation of machines, while the remaining 37% goes to other categories of investments. All in a framework of order growth expectation.
“We will have to wait for the second half of 2018 to confirm the impacts of the Industry 4.0 Plan in Italy for supporting these results, but it is time to set aside the rhetoric of our country,” reaffirms Carpinella, also referring to the good performance of the domestic market compared to Germany. In Italy the machinery and equipment sector grew by 8% in the last 18 months, compared to -2% for the German one, while the electrical and electronic equipment sector met an increase of 3,5% against 3% in Germany.
From now on, however, it is possible to compare the perspectives of the various countries to support the 4.0 phenomenon, among those who focused mainly on incentives regarding institutes and research centers, supporting a limited number of projects (as Germany did, followed by Japan and the USA), those who focused mainly on tax relief for companies (such as Italy) and those who followed a mixed perspective (such as France and Great Britain). It is understandable how the different methods are able to take into account the differentiated economy progresses of different countries and how to encourage growth
73% of the companies interviewed expect the deep impacts of Industry 4.0 on their business, with a greater awareness for companies with over 250 employees, where it reaches almost 85%. The main impacts of the Industry 4.0 Plan are focused on production efficiency (62.4%), which is a classic for industrial automation and is essential for medium-sized enterprises (almost 80%) and large companies (over 73%), but is also significant for the increase in the added value of products and services (48,4%), the improvement of customer relations (38%) and with suppliers (16,4%). The last three items indicate a growing awareness of deep change in business models, as we will discuss in a future article.