robot - trapianto di fegatoThe Mechanics and Mechathronics sector

In these two particular sectors, mechanics and mechathronics, the Sicilian Region has identified the production district as the new territorial/sectorial governance instrument.

The decision of promoting the institution of production districts was taken having as priority the concept of “being in a network to grow”, in order to develop forms of cooperation between enterprises and institutions.

The industry production districts (PD) acknowledged by the Sicilian Region are 12. The industry districts in the strict sense of the word are 8: Etna Valley (CT), Eastern Sicily Textiles Division (CT), Logistics (PA), Mechanics (SR), Mechathronics (PA), Pleasure Boating (PA), Two Seas Sailing (ME), Plastic (SR). The remaining industry 4 PD in a broad sense are formed by the industrial handicrafts and are the following: Sicilian Ceramics (ME), Caltagirone Ceramics (CT), Valuable Stones (PA), Lava Stone (CT). These 12 PD involve 1265 enterprises, among which some are production enterprises, other are enterprises dealing with the services and marketing linked to the production districts products.



Sicilian Mechanics Production District

The territory concerned by this district is in the island’s South-East, between Siracusa and Augusta and it extends to the West as far as Gela and, to the North, as far as Milazzo. Further extensions towards the Ragusa industrial area make this district one of the largest industrial poles in Europe.

In this district there are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises working in the Mechanics sector and in particular in the mechanics planting engineering and they supply: designing, assembling and maintenance of the industrial and technological plants, methane, oil and gas pipelines, waterworks, rotating machines, safety and quality diagnostics, software.

It is in particular possible to classify this division enterprises in the following three macro-categories:

1) General contractors: these are the biggest enterprises, carrying out the whole productive process in the vertical chain. They produce and maintain big industrial plants, methane and oil pipelines of technological plants for civilian use, dealing with all the production process phases (from raw materials supply to turnkey delivery and testing): order collection; design; raw and semi processed materials purchase; manufacturing and assembling of the mechanical structure; safety and quality control; testing and delivery.

2) Mechanical firms included in the vertical chain: they make up the greatest part of enterprises which, as they aren’t big enough to cover the whole chain, they are in charge of part of the production process. The activities carried out by these enterprises are: manufacturing of parts of industrial plants, methane/oil pipelines, technological plants for industrial and civilian use; plants maintenance for the industry and for civilian use (with workshop for cutting, sandblasting, replacement and reconstruction of plants); manufacturing of parts for plants assembling and building; manufacturing and assembling metal carpentry; industrial buildings construction; processing through machines tools; mechanical, electrical and building industrial planning; industrial diagnostics; planning and management of industrial safety systems; mechanical industry software planning.

3) Enterprises which are part of the horizontal chain: these enterprises deal with the raw materials and additional services supply. They are interconnected and interdependent as their production processes are vertically and horizontally connected. In particular, they carry out the following activities: improvement and redevelopment of the industrial sites as well as water analysis and treatment; human resources training; supply of raw materials to the mechanics industry; supply of logistics and transport services; supply of real services to the district enterprises (data processing, specialized advices, implementation of safety systems and of quality certification, analyses laboratories, etc.); recycling wastes; security service to the yards; informatics and network links services; packaging, brokerage and marketing of the mechanics products.

 Mechathronics Production District

The creation of new industrial products requires a global and multidisciplinary approach: the products the industry needs to produce are more and more often “smart” objects or require very elaborate automatic production systems. The proper use of new materials, the integration of automation technologies, the use of more and more complex planning, simulation, analysis methods are just some of the new mechanics challenges. That is why the word ‘Mechathronics’, coined some decades ago to indicate the union between mechanics and automation in the industrial operation, well represents this new vision of mechanics.

Mechathronics can be defined as the technological discipline concerning the Information involvement (Automatic Electronics, Informatics and Telecommunications) in the mechanics sector. It deals with the study, optimization and monitoring of the production processes and systems that are today involved in everything surrounding us.

During the last years, the industries’ need to automatize machines and plants has reached very high levels. Enterprises need to compete in terms of quality, precision, quantity, times and costs. In the industrial automation field, as a consequence, the need to connect control devices, even different one from the other, has become a primary requirement.

While in the past, even recent, the principles and techniques governing the plants automation were a well established patrimony and as a consequence their running and maintenance didn’t require any particular knowledge or skill, the development speed of microelectronics, robotics, CNC and CAD-CAM, programmable controllers and personal computers integrated in local networks has provoked a urgent demand for adaptation of the enterprises, both in terms of plants and workers.

Even at an International level, enterprises work predominantly more on the integration of the technologies (mechanical, electronic, computerized and of the automation) in order to propose to the market integrated solutions for the management, production, handling and logistics.

  The “Mechathronics” production district extends over all the territory of Sicily. It is mostly represented by the province of Palermo, where about 63% of the adherent businesses work; it also includes enterprises operating in the main region provinces: Caltanissetta, Trapani, Catania, Agrigento, Ragusa, Siracusa.

The district has been promoted by the Italian Manufacturers’ Association of Palermo, who, together with the University of Palermo, drew up the Pact.

It took its origin from the idea of increasing the value of a border area, highly specialized in the technological field, involving mechanics, automation, electronics and informatics. The proper use of new materials, the integration of automation technologies, the use of more and more complex planning, simulation, and analysis methods are some of the challenges the new mechanics has to face.

The district totals, together with some Institutions/Associations/Syndicates, 148 enterprises (D.A. n. 894 of 21.04.2010) within the whole production chain, including metal and mechanical, electronic and computerized productions.

Within the manufacturing division, especially in the province of Palermo, the more representative categories are: production of semi-processed and non-ferrous metals, steel fusion and, above all, motorvehicles production, railway rolling stock manufacturing and of motorvehicles parts. And then, there’s a significant presence of small businesses, highly competitive thanks to their specialization in particular products like, for example, components for the automotive sector.

The district includes both the industrial enterprises linked to the production of components and electronic and computer devices, and the so called high value-added tertiary industry enterprises, concerning the informatics, research and development and communication divisions.