Awareness or still a lot of skepticism?
Last week we had the opportunity to participate as exhibitors at the sixteenth edition of the A&T – Automation & Testing industrial fair in Turin.
This was a conclave of robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, and a lot of interest for digital solutions not only in logistics branches but also in manufacturing. A culmination of where Industry 4.0 is and was a productive panorama of where it will be going.
Meeting with visitors, touching on their needs and problems first hand, is undoubtedly the best way to understand companies’ viewpoints and understand how our Industry 4.0 solutions can support their processes.
Figure 1.The Zerynth stand during the A&T event
(Energy) efficiency is everything
It has become our habit to stop visitors and involve them in surveys or interactive brainstorming that allows us to be more aware of some of the most recently discussed issues as well as the Italian companies that are visiting (see also What do Italian companies think about Industry 4.0 in 2021? ).
Energy-saving and #CaroEnergia was the main topic of our chats. There was a lot of talk about cost-cutting, energy efficiency, consumption optimization, and rising bills BUT was this a perception we actually felt?
Undoubtedly (and unfortunately) this is a problem that affects each of us personally, but if the right precautions are not adopted and adequate solutions tested, then complaints remain an end unto themselves.
Visitors were asked (Figure 2) how energy consumption was managed in their company. We asked if there was already an Industry 4.0 technology capable of monitoring costs or whether it was not yet an important issue for them.
Figure 2. Visitor responses at #CaroEnergia
Answers varied, but more or less everyone was in agreement with each other. Very few companies have adopted smart solutions for energy management. Above all, these were specific teams within the company that works to improve the efficiency of their buildings involving the use of renewable sources such as solar panels or LEDs for printing or electric ovens.
Some already plan to use IoT systems for energy monitoring, while others use industrial machines already set up, and have projected low consumption.
We must become Industry 4.0 soon!
Yet, the majority of visitors interviewed admitted that they have not thought about it (Smart Energy) yet, but that it would be appropriate to start moving towards renewable and sustainable sources and technologies for energy monitoring.
Compared to foreign companies, for example, Switzerland, as ENEA explains in their annual report on energy efficiency, we are still too far behind in the field of digitization for machines and, in general, we lack a digital culture and a spirit of innovation, especially in small industrial settings.
Figure 3. Demo monitoring production and energy consumption
There would seem to be no request from the end customer (in small businesses), nor a true awareness of the benefits that technologies for careful monitoring can bring even to a single machine and not necessarily to large production companies.
Because, Yes!, this is also one of the doubts that frightens us the most: what are the costs we are talking about for now and in the future? Is what I spend on consumption monitoring technology than going to be paid off by the final result?
To hear, for example, the experience from Armal, our customer who used the Zerynth IoT platform which resulted in a 40% cut in energy costs, it would seem worth it.
Do IoT solutions cost too much?
An entrepreneur with whom I had the opportunity to talk during the fair told me about his decision to definitely close his manufacturing company, due to exaggerated higher costs and he wasn’t just a beginner unable to think of an innovative and digital plan.
“We live in an Italian paradox, in which we complain, but there is no desire to invest. We need a generational change“.
The 4.0 incentives and the national transition plans 4.0 and PNRR prove to be helpful for companies that want to digitize their machinery and improve the overall performance of their production. But, there can be no progress when there is a lack of awareness and resourcefulness.
Upcoming shows for Zerynth
At our A&T stand, we had the opportunity to relate the experience of our customers, and show off our IoT platform, via demonstrations, focused on monitoring production and energy consumption (Figure 3). Many visitors and interesting contacts for future collaborations to explore in the coming days were the results of our actions.
If you have not had the opportunity to visit our stand yet, we look forward to seeing you soon for an IoT coffee at our next venues in Italy at SPS Italia in Parma from 24 to 26 May and at MECSPE in Bologna from 9 to 11 June.
Figure 4. The Zerynth Team at A&T