technology

  • By Giovanna Matrone and Simone Bambagioni English Version The manufacturing process is currently living its fourth revolution: Industry 4.0. Based on a wide range of new technologies combining physical, digital, and biological aspects, this means taking an enormous step forward compared to the previous revolutions mainly characterized by technological advancement. These new technologies are impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries, as well as challenging ideas about our conditions as humans. The main characteristic of Industry 4.0 is the connectivity between machines, orders, employees, suppliers, and customers. This digital transformation – based on Internet-of-Things and electronic devices – impacts the entire value chain of the manufacturing process. Within this revolution, some trends are receiving more attention and investments due to their high potential: Smart factory, Predictive maintenance, and 3D printing. 3D printing is a computer-controlled process serving object production by adding sequential layers of material (metal, plastic, composite). The evolution of this technology, mostly used for prototyping of low volumes, is the Additive Manufacturing (AM) aimed to support a real serial production. This manufacturing process significantly differs from conventional subtractive methods, mainly based on removing material from a solid block. AM offers significant advantages: production innovation can be accelerated, while product customization and functional integration can be reached quickly and at lower costs. This makes AM attractive for many companies to differentiate themselves on the market and reach sustainability targets. Indeed, AM becomes a fundamental step in transitioning from a linear to a circular economy, disrupting current supply chain in terms of design, materials, manufacturing, and products. DESIGN AM basically expands the scope of design to a wider range of factors, asking engineers for a real mindset change. Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) is not just focused on the manufacturing step itself, but it also considers the material properties, part parameters,...
  • English Version Pietro Lanza General Manager of Intesa (IBM Group) and Blockchain Director of IBM Italia was with us at our Re-think Circular Economy Forum in October. Together we discussed how the transition towards the Circular Economy and the Green Deal create new opportunities for businesses in which technology and digital innovation play a key role. According to Pietro Lanza, what we are experiencing is a new industrial revolution that is based on exponential technologies, such as IoT, AI, cognitive computing, and Cloud. These technologies are growing at a global scale and allow companies to move towards new business models, enabling the Green and Digital Transition to a Circular Economy. The technology sector is then becoming a key player in redesigning businesses for Italian mid and big-size companies, especially because the supply chains of many industries are becoming more complex. Why are these technologies important? To unlock the potential of a Circular Economy through these new technologies, it is useful to highlight seven essential steps. First of all, it is necessary to understand and leverage the usage of IoT platforms. The second step is about focusing on the right data and analyzing them. This step is usually supported by AI combined with Machine Learning. The next one deals with rethinking the operations, an area in which Intesa is deploying a lot of effort, helping its clients in redefining their processes from the product design to the supply chain to the overall industrial processes. In this step blockchain, augmented reality, and optimization of the processes through innovation are often used. The fourth step is about connections: we are living in an interconnected world, which means that it is important to leverage on open platforms to connect in real-time actors across all the network. The blockchain is an example of a connected...
  • By Benedetta Esposito English Version The agri-food sector has been severely affected by many problems, such as resource scarcity, food loss and waste generation along the worldwide supply chain which, in 2019, counted approximately 1.3 billion tons, generating a cost of more than 1000 billion dollars per year (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2019). The decline in biodiversity and the improper management of resources and processes represent only some of the causes of such problems. Accordingly, a need has emerged to radically redesign the traditional linear economic path of production and consumption. In this scenario, Circular Economy emerges as a possible strategy that is able to overcome these critical issues, especially in the state of emergency generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, the need to adopt models and tools of Circular Economy in the agri-food sector is imperative to overcome these problems. Under this lens, the company’s performance should be guided towards consumption reduction, optimization of resource management, reduction of environmental impacts, waste reduction, and the reuse of leftovers. Moreover, the literature has shown that stakeholders’ engagement plays a pivotal role in catalyzing the shift towards the adoption of circular economy models, which is required at the supply-chain level rather than the individual company level. Indeed, one of the main barriers to circular economy implementation is the lack of information about the stakeholders involved in the supply chain. In addition to primary producers, numerous categories of subjects should be involved, such as customers and consumers, investors, public decision-makers, the process and transformation industry and distribution. Insightful information about companies’ practices can support sustainable business systems in the agri-food sector. Consistent with this statement, researchers have demonstrated that incorporating social and environmental considerations into the decision-making process and customers ‘reuse activities’ yields significant economic benefits. Therefore, sustainability commitments and the actions of...
  • English Version Italian version below A few months ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Ivan Calimani, founder of Krill Design, at our Re-think Circular Economy Forum, the event that we created as a meeting opportunity for those working in the Circular Economy sector. Krill Design is a startup, founded in October 2018, that puts design and technology at the service of the Circular Economy. In his speech, Ivan Calimani, first explained how the need to launch this startup was born from an understanding of just how critical it is that we redesign the way we think about waste. Every year in the world, hundreds of millions of tons of organic material are generated as waste and 98% of these materials end up in landfills to be incinerated or rot in open bins. European companies generate 88 million tons of waste per year, or 20% of all European food production, resulting in an economic loss of 143 billion euros per year. It is estimated that wasted food generates around 3.3 million tons of CO2 per year, representing about 8% of global emissions. This is why the food and beverage industry is looking for effective and sustainable solutions to recycle and reuse waste. In fact, food waste can be used today to realize raw materials for high-value products and help build a circular bioeconomy. Of course, new solutions often require a long phase of experimentation and don’t always prove beneficial to companies, but Krill Design has developed a Circular Economy model that starts and finishes within the same company, using the waste it produces to easily make a finished product. How does it work? How is it possible? Homogeneous food waste, such as peels, seeds, and shells, is transformed into a 100% biodegradable biopolymer. Through a 3D printer, it is then...
  • 7 February 2020

    H2Boat

    By Thomas Lamberti – CEO of H2Boat English Version Thomas Lamberti started his speech by introducing the current ecological situation, underlining that thanks to the abundance of energy provided by fossil sources, mankind has experienced unprecedented growth, thanks to a rapid but not sustainable economic development based on a linear model of continuous growth. The cycle of oil formation and its consumption travel on two incredibly different time scales. Furthermore, the rapid release of fossil CO2 has brought the planet into the Anthropocene era, characterized by strong ecological imbalances. The future of humanity will require more and more energy, but in a sustainable way, within a circular economy approach. Lamberti then continued his discussion focusing on the importance of hydrogen as a new source of energy; he explained that the hydrogen energy is among the most promising solutions for storing energy produced from renewable sources. H2Boat, is a spin-off of University of Genoa, born within the Department of Mechanical Engineering DIME and they work together on the technology transfer. H2Boat was born out of the desire to concretely realize its ideas at an industrial level, always maintaining the innovative and enterprising spirit that characterizes the university activity.Among his projects, Lamberti is researching and developing innovative solutions in order to introduce hydrogen technology on the market and make it available in every sector and to engineer energy systems for sailboats and motorboats, with the intention to start a successful entrepreneurial initiative able to contribute to the clearance of fuel cell and hydrogen technology in the nautical/naval world and beyond. The launch product of H2Boat is the Energy Pack, an energy storage system produced from renewable sources for sailboats. H2Boat Energy Pack is a system that uses hydrogen technology for autonomous pleasure boats – in particular sailboats – from the on-board electrical...
  • 14 October 2019

    An urgent opportunity

    By Francesco Castellano English Version Francesco Castellano started his speech by explaining the reasons that drove him to create Tondo and ReThink. It all started from a beach, a place where he loved swimming, that place changed dramatically during the years because of the plastic and the waste. Trash created by human beings, which denotes, in part, the failure of the current system, a system that doesn’t take into account the impact of our actions on the environment. ReThink – Circular Economy Forum Without any doubt, we need to rethink our economic system, to reconsider its elements and the path we are following. The necessity to rethink led to the birth of “ReThink – Circular Economy Forum”, with the purpose to question some of the elements of our economic and industrial system and to show concrete applications of some interesting trends in the Circular Economy. Problems To understand the importance of the Circular Economy we need to show firstly the problems that humanity has to face at this moment. One of the most important issues is global warming caused by the CO2 issued for energetic production, for industrial activities and for transports. In particular, Castellano reported, that according to the last IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)’s study, dated October 2018, to avoid the increase of the global temperature over 1.5°C (temperature that is considered the maximum limit to avoid effects that could be catastrophic on the global ecosystem and for the humanity in general), we have circa 12 years to reduce the 50% of the CO2 emissions and circa 30 years to delete them completely. Otherwise, some effects, that are already present, will expand more and more, with a devastating impact of drought, fire and flood. These events have already caused damages for 320 billion dollars in 2017 (https://newclimateeconomy.report/2018/)....
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