Industry 4.0 and health crisis: the furniture and decor sector

24 | 03 | 2021



In February 2021 the study conducted by McKinsey was released with the aim of highlighting how the digitalisation approach of organizations has influenced their response to the pandemic. In particular, three aspects emerged:


companies that had already started to use digital technologies were able to react promptly to the crisis;


those who were still implementing these solutions had the opportunity to test them in reality;


for those who had not started adopting technologies for Industry 4.0, the crisis was a real wake-up call.



The Industry 4.0 has been already at the centre of the economic transformation in Italy and around world for some years now. But what is it exactly? It is a process, child of the 4th industrial revolution, which is bringing a fully automated and interconnected production within companies, based on the data usage, on analytics and on the interaction between man and machine.






In a recent speech of the Chamber, the president of the Council Mario Draghi affirmed that: “It is necessary to extend and make easily accessible the National Plan of Transition 4.0 to help companies in the technological innovation process and environmental sustainability”. The data collected by the OECD, in fact, show remarkable delays of Italian companies in adopting digital technologies, not just 4.0, in all sectors and company dimensions. The two main goals of the biennial plan are: to stimulate private investments and give stability and certainty to companies, with measures effective from November 2020 to June 2023. The purpose of the National Transition Plan 4.0 of 24 billion euro is to relaunch the investment cycle and, as a consequence, the productivity and competitiveness of the Italian economy. All the companies can access to the benefit, regardless of the sector, size and even tax regime for determining business income.






In particular, entrepreneurs can count on the tax credit for investments in various categories, including:


Tangible assets 4.0 (50% tax credit in 2021 and 40% tax credit in 2022 with expenditure of less than 2.5 million euros);


Intangible assets 4.0 (20% tax credit up to 1 million euros);


Not 4.0 tangible and intangible assets (10% tax credit in 2021 and 6% tax credit in 2022).



Among the tangible assets 4.0 there are machines and production plants, machines and systems for product and process control and interactive systems; allowed technologically advanced intangible instrumentals goods, on the other hand, are software, systems, platforms and applications suitable for interconnecting the goods.









In Italy, the furniture and decor world, that counts more than 72.5 thousand employees and 428 companies with a turnover exceeding 10 million euros, has been one of the first sectors to show signs of recovery. Since last June, in fact, all furniture and lighting products for the home have registered a real surge in orders and sales and, at the same time, a significant increase in turnover and exports to the USA, France, Germany and China. How was this possible? Thanks to a widespread distribution model and to the important investments realised in terms of digitalisation and communication.
In fact, the shock of the health crisis has accelerated the Digital Transformation processes in many companies; to drive the relaunch, companies of the sector have placed several initiatives related to the technological innovation, social and environmental sustainability, renewal of the company image and plans to face up to new markets and sectors.
The Manufacturing 4.0 offers a completely different point of view on production: it is a paradigm that combines the recovery of artisan knowledge and usage of new technologies, an important driver for generating economic growth and jobs.






What does the health emergency bequeath and what challenges will it bring in the future?


The strategy of the short supply chain


The proximity supply chains represent a competitive factor and respond to the need for a supply chain capable of adapting quickly to external events. In Italy, the industry of the furniture wood is highly concentrated in production districts, places that facilitate innovation and internationalization processes, providing a network of component and subcontractors able to interpret markets demands and characterized by flexibility, willingness to listen, speed and organisation.



The importance of the digitalisation in communication and production


To respond to the emergency, the strategy most used by companies has been to introduce and enhance digital solutions. Taking the road to the future industry and Industry 4.0 is a choice that allows to solve operational challenges, generate added value from production data, improve quality of products and use all data sources. Any company seeking to increase its potential, in fact, must be equipped with a “smartly-connected” system, composed by robots and automated production processes, with real-time data collection and remote monitoring from various smart devices.



The need for sustainable development


The health emergency has also relaunched the theme of a sustainable economy, highlighting the great opportunities coming from the Green Economy and development models linked to the circular economy. The competitiveness of the sector on foreign markets is also played out by rethinking the production processes of companies in a sustainable key and equipping the products with the appropriate quality and environmental certifications. For the furniture compartment is a wide thematic that starts form the usage of sustainable materials and involves all the business processes phases, with particular attention in the optimisation and reduction of waste during production phase.




Therefore, even when put to the test, production innovation proves to be one of the relevant elements in the future of furniture. With the right tools and priorities, the furniture sector will be able to overcome this crisis and confirm its competitiveness at an international level.




Find out how Salvador machinery can help your company to take up the Industry 4.0 route.