Philip Morris smokes-out cigarette production with Industry 4.0 pyrotechnics in Italy
Cigarette brand Philip Morris International has signed a deal with Italian tower operator INWIT to build a 4G LTE network at its new €1 billion research and production plant in Bologna, in Italy, to headline the firm’s developing Industry 4.0 agenda.
The facility makes combustion-free cigarettes. The deployment is for a neutral-host distributed antenna system (DAS) using micro-antennas from JMA Wireless, which supports LTE connectivity from “all mobile operators”. The network will support sundry mobile devices, as well as a new tranche of IoT sensors and factory automation tools.
The factory is the company’s flagship research and development centre for combustion-free products, based on electronic heating (rather than burning) of tobacco-based products (different from tobacco-less ‘e-cigarettes’, which produce a nicotine vapour).
The site, in the province of Valsamoggia in Bologna, covers 110,000 square metres and employs 1,200 people. Built in 2014, the plant is the largest factory to have been built in Italy from scratch for two decades. Philip Morris said it is where “industrial processes for the creation of high-tech products are defined”, before being transferred to the other production facilities.
INWIT (Italian Wireless Infrastructures) is the leading tower operator in Italy, having consolidated and expanded legacy cellular infrastructure from Telecom Italia (TIM). It said the new DAS will “immediately improve the current technologies [at the factory] up to 4G, and… will give great impetus to the implementation of Industry 4.0, which will be essential for the economic recovery of Italy.”
Oleksiy Lomeyko, director operations for manufacturing and technology at Philip Morris in Bologna, said: “Our goal of building a smoke-free future, replacing cigarettes with innovative combustion-free products, sees digitisation as one of its fundamental cornerstones.
“The digital transformation actually involves the whole of our business, from product to processes, and finds in our production plant in the Bologna area one of the maximum expressions of Industry 4.0 at a global level. This agreement… will mean we can continue to push and accelerate using the lever of innovation: a strategic asset not just for our organisation but for our entire Italian supply chain, which together plays a leading role in the transformation of our sector.”
Giovanni Ferigo, chief executive at INWIT, said: “This agreement represents a new step in our company’s undertaking to raise awareness among national businesses and social enterprises on the need to equip themselves with mobile micro-coverage to fully exploit the development opportunities available with new mobile connections.
“We have done this, with excellent results, in hospitals, museums, large railway stations and sports facilities, as well as with business enterprises such as shopping centres and large office buildings. Now the agreement with Philip Morris will allow us to address the Industry 4.0 sector where the development of new services and applications linked to Iot will represent a great opportunity for growth and efficiency.”