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Italians Celebrate Design, Invest in Water Projects

Automation news from Italy this month involves waterworks projects and automotive design.

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Everyone knows the importance of the main global resource—water. Italy is apparently rich in it, but the 8 billion cubic meters of water the nation annually has at its disposal are wasted on an average of 27 percent, because of leaks in the pipelines. This is according to Siemens, who said old and poorly managed distribution systems contribute largely to the problem.

The Italian water system includes 13,000 pipelines for a total length of 270,000 km, built almost a decade ago. According to Siemens, the Italian water market is worth 1.5 billion euros, with a predictable annual growth of 4 percent to 5 percent. Traditionally dominated by municipal companies, this market is rapidly changing with more private companies entering the market. Some of them have successfully gained the light and gas business and are looking with great interest to water—especially now that, according to a recently approved law, water management has to be assigned to private utilities. These utilities could adopt the solutions they are using for energy and light management and apply them to controlling and monitoring the water systems, creating interesting synergies. They would also act to reduce energy consumption—which is another question that is in the spotlight in Italy, attracting many big players.

Many investments are expected, to innovate processes, explore new water treatment processes or to upgrade old technologies. Speaking specifically about automation, components include instrumentation, automation systems and remote control solutions that, for example, will discover leaks in pipelines in real time or identify pump failures, giving operators the ability to solve problems immediately and avoid waste.

Ferrari design contest

“Our company is strictly linked to the local territory, though always keeping up with innovation and new technologies to produce not ‘cars,’ but ‘dreams,’ ” said Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari, during the press gathering organized at the end of July in Maranello, a few kilometers from Bologna in the middle of Italy. The well-known carmaker has its headquarters there, and was conducting its Ferrari World Design Contest award ceremony.

The 50 universities and institutes of design around the world that took part to the competition this year were asked to develop the “Ferrari of the Future—a car for the III Millennium.” Projects were judged on areas of innovation that included design, technologies, performances, ecology and use of materials. All the competitors were provided with a free copy of the software platform Alias, from Autodesk, the same used by Ferrari’s designers.

The winner was the Hongik University of Seoul. Brenda Discher, vice president of industry marketing of Autodesk, gave the award to the Korean group. The second place team was Ied Institute of Turin, while the third prize went to the London Royal College of Arts. A special award was given to the Jiangnan University (China) for its two-wheel car said to be “re-configurable according to the driving conditions.” 

Ilaria De Poli, ilaria.depoli@fieramilanoeditore.it, is an editor at “Fiera Milano Editore,” a magazine covering automation and manufacturing in Italy.

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