Two years after the presentation at Interpack 2017, Massimo Ferioli (General Director and IMA Digital coordinator), Dario Rea (Research & Innovation Director), Pier Luigi Vanti (ICT Director) and Monica Cervellati (Digital Communication Manager) talk about the IMA Digital project, launched by the Chairman and CEO Alberto Vacchi with the aim of making IMA a Smart Factory 4.0.
“IMA Digital Hub” today, Pharmintech 2019
“We have created IMA Digital to introduce new technologies within the company and continue along that path of innovation that has always distinguished the Group in the traditional manufacturing field” Alberto Vacchi explains. “Technological innovation resides in IMA DNA since the first applications in the mechanics world. However, an additional step is required today. We have launched a series of initiatives aimed at integrating digital technologies within the production flows, while we are establishing a constructive debate with the work world to better understand the forces of the fourth industrial revolution“.
The initiated innovation process has seen the implementation of around twenty digital projects. These ones find space within various areas. Four main directions: products, services, processes, people.
The business complexity in which IMA operates has made it necessary to introduce innovative technologies.
The focus of all digital projects remains the data. The possibility of collecting and analysing complex data is in fact the main premise for obtaining useful information aimed at increasing production performance. Data and predictive analysis thus become one of the areas of development in which IMA is concentrating its forces.
“Thanks to the in-depth knowledge that IMA has of the product,” explains Dario Rea, Research & Innovation Director, “it is possible to interpret complex data obtained during production, improve strengths and work on weaknesses. Making products smarter and interconnected with modern technology platforms is undoubtedly the way to offer superior service to our customers“.
Thanks to the acquired knowledge and innovative machine learning techniques, the Group is creating new Smart Machines, equipment easily adaptable to the surrounding conditions and able to suggest improvements or adjustments during use.
“The natural next step” continues Dario Rea “sees the Group concentrated on the creation of Autonomous Machines and the introduction of collaborative robotics in processes to carry out repetitive power supply and recovery functions. Objective: the reduction of low value unplanned operations”.
Connected Field Force
However, making digital machines and platforms increasingly interconnected is just one of the areas of development of the IMA Digital project. According to Pier Luigi Vanti, ITC Director, the digitization and optimization of technical assistance processes is fundamental. Today technicians of the first pilot divisions, for customers service interventions, are using a tablet containing all the back-office information including the history of the product, user and troubleshooting manuals. The technician has full access to the documentation in 3D format, thanks to which, explains Pier Luigi Vanti “is able to explore all the components before interacting manually with the systems. The operator not only uses information, but is able to benefit from them: entering all the implementations in the system, he contributes to building the history of the machine and achieving technological and engineering improvements”.
To improve the exchange of information and better manage the quality and life cycle of the product, IMA has worked on integration and innovation: “We have launched PLM, a worldwide collaborative platform, accessible to all our stakeholders: customers, partners, technicians departments and others” says Pier Luigi Vanti. “Everyone collaborates for the part of their competence. Suppliers can access technical drawings with the guarantee of always having updated documentation. The Group companies, which collaborate in the construction of a customer’s plant, can share tests results“.
The goal is always to monitor the life of the product, and not only if this represents a new model. The management platform makes it possible to record the changes made, “an operation that is extremely important for a group like IMA, which produces extremely customized machines based on customer requests“.
However, it makes no sense to make the systems more efficient and digital if the human component is unconsidered. Two main projects in Human Resources.
The first one saw the launch of MyIMA a few months ago, the global intranet open to all 5,500 internal and external employees of the Group. “A digital space where everyone shares information. This allows the creation of new organizational methods and a closer collaboration between offices and group companies, from Argentina to China to the United States” explains Pier Luigi Vanti.
The issue of digital transformation of internal company communication, which have to be focused on its function by redefining the tools through which information is disseminated, is in fact at the heart of the digital development process. From here, according to Monica Cervellati, Digital Communication Manager “experience and professional skills are developed; MyIMA is therefore the workplace of the future, a synthesis of new technologies and human factors“.
The second project, Human Capital Management (HCM), was introduced to improve and contribute to the growth of workers. According to Massimo Ferioli, Director of organization and IMA Digital coordinator,“HCM is the PLM of human resources, a global platform that monitors the employee’s working life, from the moment he enters the organic to the retirement age; the various aspects of the career and the ability of the individual to hold different roles are highlighted; as well as the remuneration and professional growth linked to training and experience acquired on the job.” The HCM is a fundamental element for investing in the culture of personnel. Without this step, the digital innovation cannot guarantee the company the goals it aims for.