The point of Domenico Appendino, SIRI president

SIRI – associazione italiana di robotica e automazione (Italian association of robotics and automation) sponsors RobotHeart, the new exhibition area of 33.BI-MU, dedicated to industrial robotics, automation, connected technologies, components, systems and artificial intelligence


Interview with
Domenico Appendino, president of SIRI

Robotics is a technology that is increasingly used in manufacturing factories. What are the reasons of this exponential growth in the use of robots in the manufacturing industry?

Since its debut, in 1961, robotics applied to industry has shown an exponential growth that has never stopped, with the exception of a brief period of slowdown registered at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
There are eight main reasons that determined this growth. The first four reasons are related to established situations, whereas the remaining four ones concern the latest transformations of factories. Let’s start from the first ones. The diffusion of robots was pushed, first of all, by the enterprises’ need to ensure production flexibility, due to an increase in the number of products and a reduction in their life cycle, which implies their more and more rapid replacement. It was also due to the enterprises’ intention to improve productivity, which is necessary to win the challenge against competitors. However, the number of robots has grown also because the necessary investment amount has been decreasing, thus making automated solutions accessible also for the SMEs. Moreover, the safety standards and the attention to life quality in factories have imposed the use of robots for the most hazardous and wearing tasks, which were carried out by humans in the past.
In addition to these four reasons, there are four more recent ones: the extended use of cobots, which due to their features, can be more easily integrated in a factory besides operators; the boost to flexible automation activated by the approach 4.0, which is now a worldwide phenomenon; the development of artificial intelligence that opens up to new areas of action and application of robotics; and, finally, the outbreak of the pandemic, which highlighted all the potential in the use of robots under particular conditions, for example in carrying out services beside patients or in continuing work activities of different types, even when the staff was reduced to the minimum due to the lockdown


Do you think that the instability and uncertainty, which we are experiencing today, may have an impact on the segment of robotics?

The context in which we are operating today is extremely complicated, but I do not think that this will have a crucial impact on the sector of robotics. For example, the pandemic has shown the potential of these technologies and it has actually accelerated their diffusion.
Without taking into account the IFR forecast data, which were processed before the outbreak of the war and may thus be no longer realistic, but only by observing the trends of the last few years, we can envisage that in the next three years, the growth will continue, even if not with double-digit increases. The rise in the sales in Italy should exceed the European average. Therefore, we can feel confident


What are the future scenarios that will mainly characterise industrial robotics in the next years?

I think that the areas on which the development will focus will be cobots, sensors and artificial intelligence. Cobots will grow in number and fields of application, because, by nature, they can be well integrated in a factory, without causing big disruptive changes to already defined production cycles.
On the other hand, sensors and artificial intelligence allow an extension of the action capabilities of robots. By using AI, robots analyse and record data, which, if appropriately reprocessed, enable them to autonomously carry out tasks, even rather complex ones. This is one of the most fascinating aspects that will characterise the future of the manufacturing industry. This said, human beings remain at the centre of the production process, because they design, devise, manage and programme machines


You often speak of an anthropocentric view of robots and of environments equipped with automation systems. Would you like to tell us about this?

It is exactly what I was just saying: robots are nothing more than the tools of the third millennium. They are instruments used by human beings to achieve their goals, thus to make a factory work and to operate where necessary, within a production process.
This is the anthropocentric view, which is also an integral part of our culture. The role of the individual within any system represents one of the values at the base of the Western and, especially, of the European culture. Also for this reason, in the month of April 2021, the European Commission was called to define a regulatory framework governing the use of artificial intelligence in all areas of daily life and thus also at the workplace and in the manufacturing industry.


SIRI is sponsor of Robotheart, the new exhibition area of BI-MU. Which aspects would you point out with regard to this new initiative, which is having great success with the public?

SIRI , together with UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, i.e. the two representative bodies of the robotics world in Italy, have met the request of the different actors in the field of robotics, first of all of manufacturers and integrators, asking for a dedicated event in Italy. This should be focused on robotics, but within a well-established trade show, such as BI-MU, capable of attracting operators from the whole manufacturing industry.
The outcome is Robotheart, the exhibition area that already has the participation of all major players in the segment. ABB, ABL AUTOMAZIONE, COMAU, FANUC, LUCAS, MITSUBISHI, OMRON, ROBOT AT WORK, ROBOTECO ITALARGON, ROBOTUNITS, SIR, STAUBLI, TIESSE ROBOT, UNIVERSAL ROBOTS are only a few of the companies that have already registered to exhibit and many others are confirming their presence in these weeks.
However, a value-added of this event is its cultural dimension, relying on the presence of primary partners belonging to the world of schools, institutes and universities, which also bring new “energy” to the world of enterprises.
I would like to inform everybody that I-RIM, the Italian Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Machines, will be present at BI-MU, where, among its numerous initiatives, it will also hold its National Conference. With Robotheart, we would like to reduce the dichotomy between education and industry to the benefit of the world of research and the world of enterprises, which have a lot to offer to each other


What are the initiatives arranged by SIRI and scheduled for the next BI-MU?

SIRI will have its own information stand and will be engaged in several initiatives of in-depth cultural analysis. During our traditional press conference, we will present the trend data of the sector and also highlight the technological topics that will be the subject of the presentations given by our associate members exhibiting at BI-MU. As usual, we will re-propose a reflection on the relation between robots and ethics, a hot topic that is constantly evolving. We will support the conference dedicated to Artificial Intelligence promoted by AIA/AIxIA (Italian Association for Artificial Intelligence) and we will actively take part in some initiatives arranged by I-RIM. Many activities are scheduled and from now until October, we will surely plan more.



Venue: AREA BI-MUpiù Pad 13 – B23 - fieramilano Rho
Hours: 10.30

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