A Global Approach to Digital Manufacturing
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A Global Approach to Digital Manufacturing

By Paolo Avagliano, Head Of Digital Platform - Nafta, Comau

Paolo Avagliano, Head Of Digital Platform - Nafta, Comau

Comau, a member of the FCA Group, is a worldwide leader in delivering advanced industrial automation products and systems. Combining innovative engineering solutions with enabling technologies, Comau helps companies leverage the full potential of digital manufacturing. The digital transformation is creating new market scenarios. In our experience, we have discovered that many players have digital offerings, but only a few have a track record. Due to a long-established global presence in the industrial sector, Comau is able to help companies exploit the potential of digital production. The experience allows us to provide advanced automated products and systems which combine innovative engineering solutions and enabling technologies. Comau is also adapting its product portfolio in the context of IoT, enriching it with new products and solutions, including our some of our most recent products which will be featured in April at Automate 2019 in Chicago, Illinois, and concepts and pilot cases which are still in development. Business-wise, we are witnessing and responding to a growing attention to the services related to our products.

Scenario – Focus on Human Resources

The digital revolution also necessitates a transformation of the business model, which is increasingly oriented towards services and less towards products and systems – a change that involves both multinational companies and SMEs. Our task is to guide companies of all sizes in this process, providing them with customized and easy-to-use solutions for factory automation. Over time, the price of digital technologies (hardware and software) will gradually decrease, and they will become more accessible. Therefore, the biggest investments for the companies will be in human resources, as workers need to be suitably trained to use enabling technologies, and the adaptation of the management structure within the companies themselves.

With the digitalization of the industrial system, the demand for figures such as software analysts and designers, industrial designers, and application experts will definitely increase. The search for expertise will be more focused on the context of software than hardware, and the ability to analyze and implement the process data collected by machines and robots will be a requirement. In order to train the professionals of the digital factory, we need to change the learning model. Through the activities of our Academy, Comau is committed to providing the needed technical and managerial skills to its employees, but also to university students and recent graduates who want to be trained in the field of Industry 4.0 and digitalization. For this reason, Comau extensively collaborates with the best Italian and international universities, as well as with research institutes and important training schools.

The Importance of a Global Network for Innovation

Comau is teaming up with a global partnership network that allows us to constantly develop and expand our expertise in the industrial automation sector. This network includes multinational companies, SMEs, start-ups, universities and research centers. For example, Comau signed a cooperation agreement with Ericsson, with the intention of exploring the potential of advanced IoT solutions for industrial automation. This includes present and future 5G technologies, IoT platforms, Cloud and Big Data solutions, in order to create innovative services and increase the competitiveness and efficiency of smart manufacturing, maintenance and quality control.

Comau Approach

In regards to the future of digital manufacturing, Comau considers digitalization as an opportunity toward the technological evolution of factory automation that can also result in a better balance between its use and the contribution of humans, who remain the central and fundamental figures of the industrial process, according to Comau (“Rightsized Automation”). The consequence is a more efficient use of technologies and a better human contribution in the production process: industrial machines are only used when needed; operators and machines can be destined to carry out the tasks they can perform in the best way.

Thanks to the technological developments of the fourth industrial revolution, humans can now work close to machines in complete safety, improving plant productivity and the work conditions of the operators. Comau is facing the digital transformation through the fulfilment of its innovative concept of the factory, called HUMANufacturing. With Comau’s approach, humans remain the central and fundamental figures in the entire production process, in which they have new roles and carry out more rewarding tasks, with the support of enabling technologies. Comau’s objective is to eliminate the barriers causing limitations in the use of industrial automation solutions, making the use of digital products and technologies easier. We are responding to the evolution of the manufacturing industry by providing solutions, such as the exoskeleton MATE to reduce fatigue, improving job quality, the high payload collaborative robot AURA for the safety of those who work directly with robots, and the automated guided vehicle AGILE1500.

Paolo’s Perspective

As a leader in this transformative period, Paolo Avagliano, Head of Comau’s Digital Platform – NAFTA, believes that innovation and creating a vision in the company are key discussions that need to take place amongst the leadership team. When you create a vision for your colleagues, it creates a sense of unity, empowering and encouraging development. It is also important to set energizing goals to help promote accountability and deliver the proposed value proposition. A hiking and cycling enthusiast, I find myself to be driven by curiosity and adventure, seeking to explore challenges both in and out of the office. This allows me to focus on the journey and be lean and agile to continuously adapt within a complex, transforming environment. Some advice I offer aspiring professionals looking to enter this career field is that it’s all about the mindset: explore new ideas and strive to be the best in class. It is imperative to be curious and constantly looking for new concepts and solutions. In doing so, do not be passive to the environment; you must evolve and transform with your surroundings because when you change with it, you become fully integrated into the ecosystem of the company.

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