Machines that are simpler to use, lighter and more beautiful to look at. Here are those who, in Italy, work for human-scale factories

You enter the factory and find the design. Not the product, but the production itself. And his cars. "We are happy to break a prejudice: the machinery sector in Italy is strong: not only from a production point of view, but also from that of innovation", explain Edgardo Angelini and Pasquale Cirulli, respectively Partner & Managing Director and Lead Product Designer of Design Group Italia, an international multidisciplinary studio based in Milan and strong specialization in factory design.

"From the world of packaging machines to that of injection and molding machines, in our country there are large companies, but also small and family-run businesses, led by entrepreneurs who look forward and have a certain energy.

There are also several companies that have approached digitalization with the theme of 4.0 because the factory is digitized and consequently the machine must be too."

In recent years, business culture has been able to transform the mechanical workshop from a dirty, dark place with unbreathable air into a bright, clean and safe space.

Italy is the second largest manufacturing country in Europe and the machinery sector represents excellence within excellence. A world, calculate the experts Filippo Astone and Laura Magna, which in the next six years will be worth 435 billion by 2030 and which will be driven by software, services and solutions that will have an impact of77 percent of turnover.

The circular economy in factories (and therefore the recovery and recycling of materials and components) is already a very current challenge for a sector worth 50 billion euros and is one of the pillars of our industry.

When we talk about factory design, we talk not only about the design of spaces and machines, but also about the interaction between them and humans. A world in which Italian design stands out thanks also to the contribution of studios such as Design Group Italia, which with the recent project of a new machinery for a company specialized in >flexographic printing (mostly used for packaging and marketing products) has won a German Design Awardand is now competing for the next Compasso > Gold.

OnyxGo, the new machine designed for Uteco, is a project that their authors themselves define as disruptive. "We used a pragmatic and rational approach. The functionality and reorganization of the machine's volumes were the basis from which an extremely compact but separated into two functional blocks machine was designed.

This two-volume organization offers order, simplicity and compactness, making operations organic, no longer dispersed and safer.

To give an example: normally some units of flexographic printers are located too high to be reached by an operator of medium height.

So we introduced two pneumatic lifts that can be easily activated, while the operator can now manage the entire machine from a single position benefiting from completely touchscreen controls.

Let's say that the design has allowed us to overcome the limits of an exclusively engineering design that often juxtaposes the different functions of the machine: thanks to the design we have created two volumes that accommodate these functions in a harmonious, clean, hierarchised way, orderly, understandable".

The sensitivity for a modern and rational factory and for user friendly machines also sparks the interest of schools. Some time ago, the students of the Abadir academy in Catania attempted a challenging brief, led by the tutor Odo Fioravanti and coordinated by Vincenzo Castellana.

He explains the latter: "We took up the challenge of innovating the very semantics of a difficult machine like the welding machine for a leading company in the production of polyethylene fittings, Plastitalia.

The welding machine is by definition an impractical machine, difficult to transport and use and which raises non-trivial safety issues. The summer school with eight students produced eleven machine projects with strong usability and above all light weight, which we have yet to reveal".

But how do you set foot in the factory as a designer to design cutting-edge and empathetic machinery?

Angelini and Cirulli of Design Group Italia say: "The knowledge of Uteco was born first of all from the brand identity project. When we started working on OnyxGO, we could count on the knowledge of the company acquired by our brand design team which, to develop a new corporate identity consistent with the company history and aimed at new strategic objectives, immersed itself in the company reality and its potential, even through a series of workshops through which we came into contact with the management.

This was a great advantage - and we can only thank our multidisciplinarity - which allowed us to arrive at the design of the machine relying on our long-standing experience in designing of machinery and solutions for the industry, but also on a specific basic preparation on Uteco".

The design was guided by a principle of all-round coherence: "From the brand identity, to the commercial strategy, to the narrative of the machinery, each element contributes to creating a unitary and convergent system.

It took us six months plus all the investigations, activities and tests carried out by Uteco's engineering and R&D teams because it involved co-design and great collaboration".

Because the theme, even in machinery design, is getting in tune with people: "In addition to the days of coaching in the factory we had daily contact with the technical office which, in parallel with our work on the design, developed the mechanical and functional parts of OnyxGO". There is always dialogue and discussion behind good design.