Digital factory, a must for SMEs

The changes brought about by Industry 4.0 oblige Italian companies to transform their production processes so as not to remain out of the market

If Italian companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, want to remain competitive, they cannot ignore digitalization. Moving from a traditional production system to what has been defined as Industry 4.0 represents an inevitable and fundamental step for companies.

And yet in Italy there are still many SMEs that for a number of reasons struggle to complete the digitalization process, which in many European countries has reached very high levels. Automating a large part of the production chain means, above all, improving the overall efficiency of the company. In fact, technology makes it possible to speed up production processes and reduce the number of wasted resources. And, therefore, also to cut the costs and to maximize the profits. Italian companies can't stand by and watch: either they adapt to Industry 4.0 or risk being cut off from the market.

The problems to overcome: changing the workforce

Digitizing doesn't necessarily imply cutting jobs. If the productive systems change, more and more automated and less manual, also the workforce should change. And unfortunately the data are worrying. For example, the average age of employees in Italy is very high, compared to the European average, just as the number of people with a university degree is still low. The transition to Industry 4.0 requires, therefore, the approval of structural reforms.

And then, there is also another obstacle that hinders the digital expansion of Italian factories: inadequate infrastructure. Despite, in fact, the measures taken by various governments to build a fast network throughout Italy, Italy is still far behind. But the main problem is mainly economic: for an entrepreneur, converting a company to digital has a very high cost, sustainable only by few companies. It's clear that policies would be needed to make access to credit for small and medium-sized businesses simpler and more immediate. As well as it would be desirable to increase tax relief.