20 Years Together Towards the Future

AIdAM celebrated its first 20 years of life with a conference held on October 4th at the Palazzina Appiani in Milan entitled “New business models for the evolving company. Purchase or pay per use? “. Always looking at the future, the Association explores pay per use as the main business model in the world of automation and mechatronics.

by Giordano Bracco

AIdAM, the Italian Association that represents one of the most vital and promising industry sectors, automation and mechatronics, celebrated 20 years of life. Today, the Association is formed by dozens of companies that represent the visionary spirit of made in Italy entrepreneurship: not only machine builders, but also systems engineers who translate vision technology into automation applications, component manufacturers and robotics specialists, united in a unique network in Europe. Strengthened by that design creativity that is a national distinctiveness, Italy is – together with Germany – at the top of the sector in terms of absolute value of the products, second only to Japan. A surprising result, especially if we consider the limits that the sector faces: typical limits of a relatively young sector that, despite the clear potentialities, struggled to find the right space within the economic system.

Twenty years ago a cohesive system was born to strengthen individual companies
The birth of AIdAM, strongly desired by a small group of companies and grown over time to count today over 70 companies, was a turning point: the Association represented the opportunity for companies to join together in a cohesive system, giving strength to the individual through the strength of the group. AIdAM has been able to do what the automation and mechatronics companies do every day: it has looked far ahead, imagining the future and tracing the way to reach it, with the aim of creating the best conditions for the development of the associates. It did it and continues to do so with an open mind, able to identify issues and tackle them through effective interventions, which range from education to actions in the field of internationalization. “It is necessary to have a natural sense of observation, curiosity and ability to grasp the best from what is around us,” explains Massimo Vacchini, historic director of the Association “but above all, the ability to find solutions to problems is essential: not only in assembly, but also in processes, in business management, in the management of human resources and in the macro environment in which we work”.

A reference for companies
First Association to sign a protocol with MIUR to redesign the school programs of technical institutes, first to deal with the drafting of a manual on machine assembly, first to propose an agreement with the SIAE for the protection of intellectual know-how in the sector, AIdAM is also committed to set standards for machine testing, to define supply contracts and intervention fees, providing useful guidelines to all mechatronic companies to present themselves to their customers in strong and authoritative way, as a guarantee of the quality of work. “We are in an economic context characterized by a continuous and rapid evolution,” says Michele Viscardi, President of the Association, “which asks our entrepreneurs to run their companies not only thanks to strong ideas and the ability to dare and risk, like in the past, but increasingly following business rules. Our talent lies in balancing market needs and creativity: people who work in this sector are skilled in managing processes and managing chaos, channeling it without harnessing it within pre-established and, therefore, unproductive schemes”. Companies operating in the field of automation and mechatronics are research and development centers. Their laboratories do not manufacture products ready to be industrialized, but unique pieces, prototypes specifically created to meet specific production needs. This is why they must always work in a long-term perspective: the result of their work must be at the forefront not only in the design phase, but at the end of the machine construction process, which can take up to several months.
“What we do today is prehistory, what we will do tomorrow is already old, what we will do the day after tomorrow is maybe okay. Customers choose us because we know how to look at the future “explains Michele Viscardi, bringing the essence of his work into a sentence. He continues by outlining the sector scenario: “We are moving towards an integration of services. mechatronics companies will increasingly be asked for consultancy on automation and logistics, because the know-how is concentrated in assembly and it is from this stage that it is possible to optimize the performance of the entire production process”. In this perspective, AIdAM stands as a strategic reference point and a facilitator of relationships between companies, institutions and trade Association, operating from a network perspective. “Our task is not to offer financial agreements or facilitations,” explains Massimo Vacchini, “but to provide associates with access to the best and worst practices, as well as qualified and functional services for business development: shared management, for instance, for all those companies that understand its potential but do not have the financial capacity to support it”.

Pay per use: is it the business model of the future?
The conference promoted by AIdAM is in line with this perspective. On October 4th, the Association offered at the Palazzina Appiani in Milan a moment of encounter between entrepreneurs, associates and stakeholders. The event, entitled “New business models for the evolving company. Purchase or pay per use? ”, hosted by Marcello Boccardo, addressed a challenging idea for companies: the pay-per-use solution, which is spreading across all sectors and fits well into the new scenarios, requires an analysis of the potential offered by this approach and a comparison of the necessary path to implement it. Introduced by the President of AIdAM Michele Viscardi, the conference gave voice to the contributions of Sergio Terzi, Professor at the Faculty of Management Engineering of the Polytechnic of Milan, Tullio Tolio, Professor at the Faculty of Systems Engineering of the Polytechnic of Milan, Sergio Cavalieri, Professor at the Faculty of Management, Information and Production Engineering of the University of Bergamo, Luciano Sottile, General Manager at Goglio Group, Roberto Vavassori, Business Director, Development & Marketing at Brembo, and Stefano Firpo, General Manager of Mediocredito Italiano.

The pillars of the Association
Thus, AIdAM celebrates its twenty years planning the future for the second generations, who will find themselves doing business in a global market characterized by strong competition. And AIdAM does this by focusing on two main pillars: on the one hand supporting a real “humanism of the industry”, in which companies share know-how and economic resources to feed, starting from the first grades of education, the minds of tomorrow; on the other hand promoting the creation of a co-operative system structured as a single large company, in which individual players do not lose their identity because they are strong in their specialization. This is an ambitious step, which implies a change of mentality and the willingness of all members to take a step backwards compared to traditional business systems, but to the advantage of a great common goal and enormous long-term potential: to propose oneself in the global market with the size and diversification necessary to make made in Italy win, also in this sector, on a global scale.