Investing in Industry 4.0 for growth - RINA.org

Investing in Industry 4.0 for growth

15 Mar 2019

With the so-called fourth industrial revolution comes the concept of a “smart factory”, where manufacturing processes are boosted by digital technologies including automation, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data and machine learning.

Italy is the second largest manufacturing country in the EU, known for its broad scope of products, flexibility and innovation. But after the 2009 financial crisis, the Italian manufacturing base was exhausted. Machines were old. There was limited cashflow for investment. To encourage an upgrade in manufacturing assets, the Italian government introduced a “hyper-amortisation” measure in the 2017 and 2018 budgets. This tax measure basically offers a 150 percent increase in the value of investments in new tangible devices and technologies, purchased or leased, that enable the Industry 4.0 transformation. Companies can also benefit from tax relief for investments in intangible capital goods such as software and IT systems, with an additional 40 percent increase in value.

Assets that fall under the hyper-amortisation measure are capital goods controlled by computerised systems or managed by appropriate sensors and drivers, as well as intangible assets such as software, systems and system integration platforms and applications. Investment in these assets allows better interaction between personnel, processes and machinery, speeds up decision-making, improves productivity and quality and satisfies demand in a more targeted and cost-effective way.

In terms of success so far, this measure gets full marks: the Italian Confederation of Enterprises, Confindustria, has recorded sustained growth in all main sectors of the economy and the Ministry of Economic Development has recorded strong growth in the turnover of asset-supplying companies.

To take advantage of the tax benefits, a formal attestation of conformity is required stating that the asset has certain specific technical characteristics and is interconnected with internal or external digital systems. In Italy, this is the first time that fiscal benefits depend upon strict technical examinations.

RINA is one of the certification bodies accredited to issue the required attestation of conformity. The verification process spans a preliminary document analysis to an in-field verification of conformity and is carried out by a multidisciplinary team from our Certification and Industry Business Units. Over the last two years, we have performed such verifications for hundreds of companies. The process has been refined through specific monitoring tools, experimentation and sharing best practices.

Along with certification, we are often asked to support companies with digital consulting and specific training modules. New smart and attested assets may be the building blocks of the digital transformation, but consulting and training are essential to exploit their full potential. And as a true partner to companies, we don’t just talk about digital transformation, we do it ourselves. Our RINACube cloud-based “platform of platforms” offers a space where key enabling technologies such as digital twins and blockchains can be tested risk-free by customers before integration into their own processes.

Andrea Mazzarano & Luigi Pavani