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Manufacturing the future

“Manufacturing the future”, writes the McKinsey Global Institute in research from November 2012. Re-evaluate industry after the years of the inebriation of speculation, the source of the economic crisis. Build new theories of production, distribution and consumption, in the awareness that the future, even in countries which were industrialised many years ago, lies in quality manufacturing, socially and environmentally sustainable. A clear prospect for Pirelli corporate culture and already described in the periodical considerations of this blog.

A focus on manufacturing therefore by one of the leading global consulting firms, McKinsey. With a relaunch too in those countries (USA and Great Britain) which from the Eighties onwards have neglected industry, preferring to stake on so-called “innovative services”, beginning with finance. Now instead there is talk again of quality in “doing things and doing them well”. Corporate culture in design and products. German strength, with Europe in its sights, and Italian excellence, on whose products, as well as increasing manufacturing quality (safety, efficiency, practicality, sustainability, high-level performances), design also has a positive influence. Industrial design which gives aesthetic shape to the product, both in items of clothing and furniture and in chemical and rubber ones (high-level design for example, as in the tread of a tyre) and in cutting-edge mechanical engineering products, from the automotive sector to highly automated machines.

The Italian manufacturing industry ranks second in Europe, behind Germany, and fifth in the world, even though followed closely by particularly dynamic countries such as Brazil, Turkey and South Korea. A positive assessment should be made of the Fondazione Edison data which mention (2011 data) 1200 products for which Italy as an exporting country beats Germany. If we leave out of the commercial balance oil and food products and concentrate instead on non-food manufacturing products, according to the statistics of the World Trade Organisation, we discover that Italy is one of the 5 G20 countries (with China, Germany, Japan and Korea) to have a structural surplus with foreign countries of manufactured goods. And, due to a series of activities, better than that of Germany.

How can such a record be defended in increasingly selective global competition? In other words how is it possible to strengthen the contribution to development which comes from the best manufacturing industry? An “industrial policy” is needed to stimulate research, innovation and growth in size of companies, tendencies towards internationalisation, in the dual dimension of exports and direct investments on the more dynamic markets, from Asia to Latin America. “An agenda for the manufacturing industry”, maintains Fondazione Edison, also through a reduction in the fiscal wedge with priority given to those in the industry. A support plan is needed in other words, targeting the four main production areas in Italy (food and agriculture, clothing and textiles, furniture and automation, advanced mechanical engineering).