IT & Big Data for future ceramics | by Andrea Serri

With all probability, 2017 will end with an absolute record of investments in technology for ceramics, driven by the launch on the market of ceramic slabs, an economic situation showing positive signs in different markets, and by the Industry 4.0 tax incentives envisaged by the Italian Government. It is a new technological revolution where competitiveness in the Italian ceramic industry is facing new fields, from information technology to Big Data.

At the heart of this technological revolution is information, whose presence inside and outside the companies is one of the main features of the ongoing process. The Italian ceramic industry, thanks to extremely high and constant investment flows, already owns highly automated machinery where man's presence is only seldom required.  A further step forward actually lies in the gathering, organization and analysis of this almost endless amount of data and information. What appears as a small step is in fact concealing a deep and structural revolution in terms of knowledge and learning capacity.

Today ceramic plant design and installation follow preconstructed rules: the entire range of solutions is programmed, and when a specific event takes place the machine automatically knows what to do. The future starts now by analysing the clear signs all along the production process. The emerging picture is that of a reality which, properly analysed and understood, will be able to further improve the manufacturing process. It is a changing innovation, not a static one; hence it can make the entire system evolve into a more efficient and effective way.

Not only. These new approaches can also be applied to the analysis of the surrounding reality, from actual  sales to prospective feelings of the different markets, from consumer buying process to factors influencing purchases. What mostly differs from the past is, maybe, this new ability to analyse through a quantitative method the outer world extending beyond the factory gates. It is a strong innovation which, if paired with the manufacturing skills and their potentialities in terms of automation and flexibility of production, is able to produce a further, fundamental step forward into the Italian ceramic field.

December 2017