IMA’s vocation in the pursuit of innovation reflects its strong orientation to be seen as a solution provider rather than just as a product vendor. This approach has always been a distinguishing characteristic of the Group and has resulted in a strong market leadership position.
Research and development costs in 2018 amount to 55.31 million euros, higher than the 50.99 million euros last year, representing 3.7% of revenue.
This item primarily includes the research costs incurred on the technological upgrading and normal revamping of standard products. The balance does not include the cost of development work ordered by specific clients, or the cost of customizing standard products. This expenditure is included in the cost of sales so it is invoiced to the clients concerned.
THE ORGANIZATION OF RESEARCH AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Given the complexity of the markets that it has entered and the dynamism of its growth, the IMA world requires a greater centrality and transversality of research and development skills, implemented by following two guidelines:
• research and development of machinery and equipment in a specific market segment: carried out within the individual divisions;
• experimentation, implementation, technology scouting, studying new architectures: performed by the Innovation structure.
In IMA, the development of innovation is widespread, that is, deriving from the ideas of individuals, from Marketing inputs, from the analysis of competitors’ machines, from collaborative innovation or from scouting enabling technologies.
To ensure the dissemination of knowledge and stimulate new ideas, new hires from the Research & Development department follow a path of continuous training on technological innovation, for example on real time operating systems, on the software framework produced for the use of Personal Computers as a machine controller, on mechatronics, on the development of industrial software for automatic machines, on ultrasound technology in welding applications and softening plastic materials.
IMA is incorporating the new production concept called Smart Manufacturing, which involves the use of digital technologies in the manufacturing sector.
Some of the enabling technologies which IMA has decided to invest in are:
• Additive manufacturing;
• Big Data;
• Collaborative robotics;
• Advanced automation;
• Artificial intelligence.
Some examples of these active collaborations in 2018 are:
• INFN (National Institute of Nuclear Physics), Trento, Italy; • Johannes Kepler University (JKU), Linz, Austria;
• ELEDIA Research Center, University of Trento, Italy;
• CNR Nano, Pisa, Italy;
• Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research of Advanced Mechanics and Materials of the University of Bologna, Italy;
• School of Engineering and Architecture, University of Bologna – Industrial Product Design Course;
• University of Parma – Degree in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology;
• Project with the Ministry of Education, University and Research, in which IMA has participated with funding for the development and strengthening of national technology clusters. IMA is included in the Operational Research “Smart Manufacturing Research Observatory”;
• Project with the Ministry of Economic Development, co-financer of the MaXima project (Multiple Actions for Innovation in Machine Automation) to develop high performance, intelligent, and adaptive production systems that are efficient and eco-compatible, in accordance with the Industry 4.0 paradigm;
• IDM IMA Digital Manufacturing project, financed by the Emilia-Romagna Region for the creation of research, development and innovation centres;
• Horizon 2020 “ROSSINI” European project, which has as its objective the design and development of modular platforms for the integration of robotic technologies with human operators in an industrial environment;
• IMA is one of the founding members of ITS MAKER – Mechatronics Institute for Mechanical Engineering and Packaging, the heart of Emilia Romagna’s mechanical and mechatronics technology hub. IMA contributes by means of in-house training courses and by hosting students in the production departments for first and second year apprenticeships;
• University of Ferrara: diagnostic and prognostic maintenance of automatic machines through remote monitoring of data collection;
• VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd): study and development of eco-compatible materials for food packaging.
PATENTS FILED AND GRANTED IN 2018 (out of a total of more than 1,700 patents and patent applications pending worldwide)
PATENT APPLICATIONS FILED (OF WHICH DESIGN)
PATENTS GRANTED (OF WHICH DESIGN)
IMA LIFE NORTH AMERICA
THE MAIN INNOVATIONS IN IMA IN 2018
IMA Tea & Herbs continued the development of the weighing doser, developing a unique solution in the world of dynamic weighing and dynamic compensation of vibrations. This system that corrects and eliminates any vibration of the machine has made it possible to expand the range of applications to the primary packaging.
A new machine, the CT11, has been developed, where with a simple format change it is possible to produce rectangular or pyramid filter bags. It is an important innovation in the sector as, up to now, the type of filter bag could not be so drastically changed on IMA machines. The machine was completed with the possibility of inserting an external envelope (to guarantee the maintenance of the aroma and the quality of the product) applicable to both types of bags. The doser mentioned above has been applied to this machine with excellent results in dosing precision.
A machine for the production of single-chamber filter bags with PLA (Polylactic Acid) material for coffee packaging was also developed on an existing C59 platform.