Proteo Engineering pushes factory 5.0

5 min read

It is a climb powered by artificial intelligence that is repositioning Proteo Engineering, a historic plant engineering and industrial automation brand from Spilamberto, in the Modena area, among the main strategic partners of Emilian manufacturing for the 5.0 revolution. A climb that has become very rapid in the last five years, since the Marchesini Group – among the top players in the packaging valley – entered the capital, first in a minority and then gradually reaching 80% of the shares. Now destined for further acceleration: the group has launched a 20 million euro investment plan over three years in digitalisation and artificial intelligence, which has its ram’s head in Proteo.

Having archived the pandemic parenthesis with a doubling of turnover in the last two years, from 20 to 40 million euros for 2023, the Modena-based company has double-digit growth prospects ahead of it, year on year, and a tight hiring program : «We have gone from 46 employees in 2018 to the current 70 and we have opened the selection of another dozen profiles, to reach 80 employees in 2024. Three out of four of the new entries are Stem figures. Counting the collaborators who work with us every day, we rise to 150 people, 60% of whom are engineers specialized in new technologies and over half of whom are under 35, in short, digital natives”, explains Andrea Savigni, commercial manager of Proteo Engineering and second generation at the helm of the company. The company, founded by his father Marco and four other partners in 1986 with the name Proteo Castelvetro, has become the reference in the nearby ceramic district for process automation.

Andrea Savigni. Sales manager of Proteo Engineering and second generation at the helm of the company, co-founded by his father Marco

«Ours was love at first sight – says Pietro Cassani, CEO of Marchesini Group and vice president of Proteo Engineering -. I had already dealt with Savigni and his team in my previous career in the mechano-ceramic sector and I was struck by the fact that German manufacturers relied on an SME from Spilamberto for the automation of the kilns: it is really rare that Germans they buy hardware and software from Italians, if not forced because they are the best on the market!”. The Marchesini Group’s decision to enter the capital was «made at the table in a few hours – continues Cassani – knowing that some shareholders wanted to exit and that there was a competitor ready to take over the assets with a financial, not industrial, logic. At Marchesini we were suffering from a shortage of software engineers, fundamental profiles for customizing packaging lines to customer specifications. This alliance is strategic, because human resources are the competitive asset for growth. However, as the parent company we represent a minority slice of Proteo’s turnover, around 20%, the company continues to move freely on the market. I sit on the Board and deal with strategies, the old remaining partners and the managers who hold the minority shares manage the business independently and this freedom is a precious added value for Marchesini too”.

Pietro Cassani. CEO Marchesini Group and vice president Proteo Engineering

The logic of sharing the supplier chain – which has become a distinctive feature of the Emilian packaging district studied in economics textbooks – is expanding to new links. Proteo Engineering, which today has two offices and a warehouse in Spilamberto, has in turn acquired majority shares of the Bolognese M-Point (PLC software development, AI and motion control solutions, with a team of engineers and technicians specialized in IT industrial) and Cat Progetti (another historic Bolognese name in automation, including electrical panels and process monitoring technologies). While Marchesini Group entered the former spin-off of Alma Mater Eyecan, which in the computer vision segment patented “neural twins”, advanced versions of digital twins in which robots trained by other computers recognize and select real objects. A team that today has few competitors in terms of sensor skills, artificial intelligence, IoT, industrial and collaborative robotics, which attracts partnerships and also has an easier time attracting and retaining young talent.

Among Proteo Engineering’s partners there are now international software houses such as Wonderware (the corporate big data platform, to collect the information generated by all processes in real time, create a single, large smart factory database and power AI solutions) and suppliers of energy technologies such as Esco Co-Ver, since the analysis of all process data combined with the use of AI in predictive logic allows enormous savings on energy consumption and polluting emissions, as well as great efficiency in use of clean sources. And Proteo is also riding the green conversion, starting with photovoltaic systems. «Digitalization and sustainability are truly two sides of the same 5.0 investment, essential today to meet the challenge of increasingly complex markets and increasingly severe climate objectives. From power and automation experts we have become accelerators of the “AI r-evolution” of the factory, where AI means artificial vision, predictive solutions, decision support, transfer of skills” remarks Savigni, taking up the title of the conference which a few weeks ago, at the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, marked the debut of the new Proteo Engineering 5.0 on the Via Emilia. A region where it is estimated that the AI ​​market will grow from 30 million euros in 2022 to over 50 million in 2024. And where today only 5.3% of small companies have already adopted advanced artificial intelligence solutions, compared to 25 % of large corporations.

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