NEXT GENERATION UPP: a project to improve the justice system in Northwest Italy

NEXT GENERATION UPP seeks to provide a more efficient method for managing judicial affairs and thus help reduce the backlog and the average length of judicial proceedings.

 

NEXT GENERATION UPP is coordinated by the University of Turin in partnership with eleven universities in Northwest Italy – including the Politecnico di Milano with the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering and the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies. The project is promoted by the Ministry of Justice within the framework of the NOP on Governance and Institutional Capacity 2014-2020 and carried out in synergy with the interventions envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) in support of justice reform.

Next Generation UPP aims to improve the justice system in Northwest Italy through the strengthening of Trial Offices (UPP), technological innovation, and trialling new collaborative schemes between universities and judicial offices. It is aimed at courts in the Macro Area 01, which includes the Appeal Courts of Brescia, Genoa, Milan and Turin, the Courts and the Juvenile Courts of the corresponding districts.

In particular the working group from the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, led by Prof. Giancarlo Vecchi, is mapping the organisation of the Trial Office at the Appeal Court and the Court of Milan.
The analysis seeks to show in detail the organisational solutions put in place, the strengths and weaknesses and the impact in terms of reduction of backlog and disposition time, i.e., the time taken to reach final determination in judicial proceedings. In addition, it will design and trial innovative organisational solutions to consolidate, strengthen and transfer the obtained results.

The project, launched on 1 April 2022, will be concluded on 30 September 2023.


For more information:
Prof. Giancarlo Vecchi: giancarlo.vecchi@polimi.it

Food Policy. The fifth district hub against food waste opens

A new collection and storage centre for surplus food from various large-scale distribution chains to expand the network of district hubs that are taking action against food waste, set up by the City of Milan in collaboration with local partners and associations.

 

The new Centre Hub, which officially opened today, is located on the premises of Associazione IBVA, on Via Santa Croce 15, next to Solidando, the social market that has been committed to fighting food poverty for years.

Alongside the Gallarate, Isola and Lambrate Hubs, as well as the Foody Hub in the Milan agri-food market, the opening of the Centre Hub signifies a new point of contact in the City of Milan’s network that is fighting against food waste and supporting food aid initiatives in the city – a network which has already been awarded the Earthshot Prize in 2021 and is setting an international standard.

The opening of the Centre Hub was possible thanks to a tried and tested public-private partnership model. In particular, the initiative has been promoted by the City of Milan’s Food Policy department, IBVA, Municipality 1, Fondazione Cariplo, Assolombarda and the Politecnico di Milano through their Food Sustainability Observatory. The Hub was created thanks to the generous contributions of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Milano. A fair and green product collection and delivery service will be provided thanks to the partnership with So.De, the socially-conscious, supportive and sustainable delivery service.


District Hubs against food waste: statistics

A total of four hubs are already active throughout the Milan area: the Hub in Zone 4 at Foody – Milan’s agri-food market – which represents the evolution of the Fruit and Vegetable Hub, developed during the 2020 lockdown and thanks to which 138 tonnes of fresh produce were distributed over eight weeks; the Isola district Hub (Zone 9); the Lambrate Hub (Zone 3); the Gallarate Hub (Zone 8).

The initiative’s data monitoring is carried out thanks to its collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano’s Food Sustainability Observatory, as well as the support of Assolombarda with the Isola, Lambrate and Gallarate Hubs, and its collaboration with the University of Milan for the Foody Hub.

In 2021, the two hubs that had been set up in the Isola and Lambrate districts collected a total of over 170 tonnes of food, equating to about 340,000 meals. In the first half of 2022, these two hubs were also joined by the Gallarate and Foody hubs, which in the first six months of that year alone collected 130 tonnes, equating to over 260,000 meals.

In total, more than 3,000 households have been helped thanks to the work of the district hubs and the cooperation of a dozen brands involved across almost thirty outlets.

BUDD-e: a project to support citizens with visual impairments

The Budd-e research project is a programme committed to improving the quality of life of visually impaired citizens to help to build a more equal and inclusive society by taking advantage of technological innovations.

 

The SARS-COV2 pandemic has significantly impacted everyone’s life, changing our habits and how we interact with others and our immediate environment. Among those most affected are people with visual impairments, who are considered to be at greater risk of contagion due to their need for tactile contact with people and spaces to be able to move and orientate themselves more easily.
Therefore, without touch, these people have seen their autonomy and quality of life become increasingly limited.

Isolation was even more severe for those with severe degrees of visual impairment. There are around 2 million such people in Italy, while at the global level they represent around 4% of the population. It is a significant “slice” of society for which technology could play a significant role in improving quality of life.

How can technological innovation be exploited to ensure independent and safe access to various spaces such as shopping centres, museums, hospitals or even athletics tracks?

Improving the quality of life of citizens with visual impairments through the opportunity to enjoy these and other spaces independently and safely is the ambitious objective of the multidisciplinary “BUDD-e” (Blind-assistive Autonomous Drive Device) research project, which was among the winners of the Polisocial Award (2021 Edition) – the Politecnico di Milano’s social responsibility programme financed with “5×1000” funds.

BUDD-e is an innovative person-robot system that incorporates a self-driving robot and was conceived based on the specific needs of blind or partially sighted people and the design of spaces made accessible thanks to the functionalities of the robot. BUDD-e will contribute to building a more equal and inclusive civil society.
BUDD-e will be capable of guiding and supporting blind or partially sighted people during their day-to-day activities – including the possibility of transporting goods – while maintaining the required speed and/or trajectory, by transmitting relevant information on the available routes via audible signals, thus avoiding collisions.

The research project – which will last 15 months and is coordinated by Prof. Marcello Farina from the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering and Prof. Emanuele Lettieri from the Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering – is characterised by the integration of several distinct areas of expertise within the Politecnico di Milano, ranging from engineering to management economics, from architecture to service design.

The research group may rely on the involvement of partners such as the UICI (Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted), the ASST Niguarda Hospital regional healthcare agency, the non-profit organisations ICM (Milan Institute for the Blind Foundation), DISABILINCORSA, Tactile Vision and GSD Non Vedenti Milano (NVM) amateur sports group, as well as ASP Golgi Redaelli, YAPE S.r.l. and POLIMISPORT.
Lastly, the project will be conducted under the clinical and medical supervision of Dr Luigi Piccinini from the Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care (IRCCS) Medea.

The team of researchers from the Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering, headed by Prof. Emanuele Lettieri and Mr. Andrea Di Francesco will be committed to assessing the social impact generated by the BUDD-e project through the development of a specific methodology that allows the relevant details to be understood.

 

For further information you might refer to the website of the project BUDDE-e and to the website of the Interdepartmental Laboratory “Engineering for Sport” (E4Sport).

Symplatform 3: the conference on digital platforms

There is a word that is appearing more and more frequently in the newspapers, in our meeting and in the LinkedIn feeds and that word is “platform”.

Whether talking about a new scandal by one of the big tech companies, the new innovation strategy of a large industrial group …or just a new digital service, the word “platform” appears in a variety of sectors.

But what does platform really mean? What do Uber, Amazon, Apple and any old daily newspaper have in common? Or why it is correct to consider an app like Strava, the famous service for tracking sports performance, a platform? These and many other issues are at the heart of Symplatform: an event where academic knowledge encounters the world of practitioners to construct a critical discussion on what platforms are, how they work and what they can become for people, organisations and our society as a whole.

We are pleased to launch the third edition of Symplatform, a symposium on digital platforms that aims to bring academics and practitioners together.

Symplatform is a joint project developed by Trinity College Dublin, the Politecnico di Milano School of Management and the Audencia Business School.

Here is a short video presenting the conference.

The event programme and registration can be found at this link: https://symplatform.com/

For further information, write to daniel.trabucchi@polimi.it and tommaso.buganza@polimi.it.

Neighbourhood Hubs against food waste win the Earthshot Prize

Dedicated to environmental protection actions, Milan’s anti-food waste project won £1 million and support from the Royal Foundation for the next few years.

 

Milan, 18 October 2021 – On the night of Sunday, 17 October 2021, Prince William announced that the City of Milan, with its Neighbourhood Hubs Food Policy project against food waste, is the winner of the first prestigious international Earthshot Prize for the best solutions to protect the environment.

A month ago it was announced that Milan was one of the 15 finalists in the “a world without waste” section, and yesterday, live on the BBC and Discovery Channel, Prince William unveiled the winners after an international panel of experts selected Milan from 750 candidate initiatives from around the world.

Along with Milan in the other four categories of the award were winners from the Republic of Costa Rica for the protection of forests, India for the reduction of smoke emissions into the air, Berlin for the development of hydrogen technologies for energy production, and the Bahamas for the protection of coral reefs.

In Milan, the BBC arranged a link to London from a terrace overlooking the Duomo, which was attended by Deputy Mayor Anna Scavuzzo, with representatives of all the partners who bring this project to life.

The £1 million prize will be used to further develop these hubs and open new ones, ensuring their long-term sustainability and replicating this excellent practice in the network of cities working with Milan on food policy, starting with the network of C40 cities and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

Winning the Earthshot prize is the recognition of a great team effort that has involved the entire city: thanks to the City Council and many organisations from the third sector, universities, large-scale retail trade and philanthropy operating in the area, Milan now has 3 neighbourhood hubs at Isola (2019), Lambrate (2020) and Gallaratese (2021).

The project was born in 2017 as a result of an alliance between the City of Milan, Politecnico di Milano (with the research group of the Food Sustainability Lab, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering) Assolombarda, Fondazione Cariplo and the QuBì Programme.
The creation of the first Hub then brought in Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and saved over 10 tonnes of food per month, ensuring a stream of 260,000 equivalent meals in one year, reaching 3,800 people, thanks to the contribution of 20 supermarkets, 4 business canteens and 24 Third Sector organisations.

In particular, the Food Sustainability Observatory conducted a network feasibility study and monitored the hubs’ operation and the impact generated by the project, thus making it possible to build an extensible logistic model replicable in other areas of the city.

Indeed, this was followed by the launch of the Hub in Lambrate, immediately after the first lockdown in spring 2020, also managed by Banco Alimentare della Lombardia in a space made available by AVIS Milano and with the support of BCC Milano. The third Hub, at Gallaratese, is managed by Terre des Hommes with the support of the Fondazione Milan.

Another one, currently in the planning stage, will be the neighbourhood Hub in Corvetto, managed by the Banco Alimentare della Lombardia and with the support of the Fondazione SNAM; while the City of Milan has recently started the co-design process for the Hub in the city centre with Associazione IBVA and the support of BCC Milano.

 

The team of the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering:
Alessandro Perego, Marco Melacini, Giulia Bartezzaghi, Annalaura Silvestro and Andrea Rizzuni from the Food Sustainability research group.

Partners involved:
The project involves major retailers including Lidl Italia, Esselunga, Carrefour, NaturaSi, Erbert, Coop Lombardia, Il Gigante, Bennet, Penny Market with the support of Number1 Logistics Group who provided the vans for the Isola and Lambrate hubs. Also involved were the canteens of Pirelli, Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Maire Tecnimont, coordinated by Gruppo Pellegrini for the Isola Hub.
With Fondazione Cariplo and SogeMi, the City of Milan has also launched the Foody zero waste initiative to replicate the hub model at Ortomercato and recover fresh food together with Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, Recup, Croce rossa sud milanese, Università degli studi di Milano and many other supporting partners.

Announcing the start of the TREASURE project

New testing opportunities for new technologies to make the automotive sector more circular

 

1 June 2021 marked the start of the TREASURE project (leading the TRansion of the European Automotive SUpply chain towards a circulaR futurE), coordinated by Sergio Terzi and Paolo Rosa from the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering of the School of Management.
Co-funded by the European Commission with the H2020 programme, TREASURE is a Research and Innovation Action (RIA) that aims to offer new testing opportunities for new technologies to make the automotive sector more circular.

Its main objectives are:

  1. to guarantee sustainable use of raw materials in the automotive sector reducing the risks linked to supplies;
  2. to apply the circular economy paradigm to the automotive sector, acting as examples for the manufacturing macrosector;
  3. to deliver better economic, environmental and social performance for vehicles for all users;
  4. to create new supply chains around end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), focusing on the circular use of raw materials.

In this way, TREASURE will deliver tangible support for companies in the automotive sector, providing a practical demonstration of the benefits obtainable from the application of the circular economy paradigm, from the point of view of both business and supply chains and also of technology and sustainability, through the adoption of industry 4.0 technologies in the management processes of ELVs and their parts.

The primary results expected include:

  1. the development of an AI-based tool for analysis and comparison of possible circular supply chains in the automotive sector;
  2. the realisation of a series of successful cases for key players in the management of ELVs, such as car wreckers, scrap metal shredding plants, raw material recycling plants and vehicle manufacturers;
  3. the integration of key enabling technologies for the design, dismantling and efficient sustainable recycling of electronic auto parts.

Partners in the project, coordinated by the Politecnico di Milano, are the Dutch research centre TNO, Zaragoza University in Spain, the professional school at the Università della Svizzera Italiana, the Università degli Studi dell’Aquila, the Dutch consultancy agency Material Recycling and Sustainability B.V., the Estonian company for social studies Edgeryders OU, the Lithuanian LCD screen manufacturer EUROLCDS SIA, the Spanish auto parts manufacturer Walter Pack SL, the vehicle demolition company Pollini Lorenzo e Figli Srl, the leading Spanish car manufacturer SEAT SA, the software developers TXT E-Solutions Spa, the Spanish scrap metal recycling company Industrias Lopez Soriano SA, the Italian National Unification Body, and the French automotive cluster NEXTMOVE.

New life for electronic waste thanks to the circular economy

This virtuous example of circular economy is the result of the Horizon2020 FENIX project in which the Politecnico di Milano is a partner.

 

Like a phoenix rising out of its own ashes, the FENIX project has achieved its aim of giving new life to electronic waste, turning it into raw materials for eco-compatible products such as new metal filament for 3D printing, eco-friendly metal powders for additive manufacturing and sustainable 3D-printed jewellery.

The Horizon 2020 FENIX Project, in which the Politecnico di Milano is a partner, has drawn to a close after 40 months of work and achievement of its objective to develop new business models and industrial strategies with a view to a circular economy.

The Industry 4.0 Laboratory of the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano has in fact implemented an automated station for the disassembly of mobile phone circuit boards by collaborative-robots (cobots), one of the most advanced automation solutions in robotics technology, as they guarantee operational flexibility while permitting interaction with their surroundings and with the operators who share their tasks.

Thanks to a semiautomatic process, the cobot manages to unsolder the electronic components of the circuit board while preserving their chemical characteristics: it uses a jet of hot air to melt the solder holding together the components so that these can then be detached and processed separately from the board.

Thanks to the circular supply chain set up by the consortium participating in the project, the circuit boards disassembled by the Politecnico di Milano are processed by the University of Aquila, which recovers pure materials (such as copper, tin, gold, silver and platinum) from the boards and their electronic components. Copper and tin are then transformed into metal powders (by MBN Nanomaterialia SpA in Treviso) and filaments suitable for 3D printing (jointly by MBN Nanomaterialia SpA and I3DU and 3DHUB in Athens, Greece), both then tested at the Fundació CIM in Barcelona, Spain. Whereas the precious metals are used by I3DU and 3DHUB in Athens, Greece to create eco-compatible jewellery. Produced and sold through the consortium, these jewels can also be personalised with a 3D scanner service and given the shape of objects or people’s faces.

The hope is that when the project ends, the business models conceived and tested by FENIX will be replicable by other external parties, with a view to promoting the setting up of new circular supply chains.

Also worthy of note is that two of the results developed by the Politecnico di Milano team involved in the FENIX project have been cited by the EU Innovation radar and that an article written by the team received recognition from the publishers Taylor & Francis and appears on the website of the International Journal of Production Research as top cited article. Click here to read the article.

Source: https://www.polimi.it/pressroom/comunicatistampa/

For more info about the project: http://www.fenix-project.eu/
Link to the Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEg3DZSWyo62lSaMg7xxZrg

Work inclusion: knowing we are all different increases competitive potential

Can we still accept that in-clusion is often replaced by re-clusion? It is not just a matter of ethics: acknowledging that each worker has a potential value for the company becomes a lever for configuring increasingly competitive production systems.

 

Guido J.L. Micheli, Associate Professor of Industrial Plants Engineering and Management
School of Management Politecnico di Milano

In everything, there are minimum time periods necessary for an evolution to start having an effect. In our Country, the constitution states that Italy is a “Republic […] founded on labour”; however, it is only in the last few decades that the problem of job inclusion of disabled workers, who – except in very rare cases – do not have the “standard” characteristics that companies look for in their employees, has begun to be addressed in some way.

To put it simply, the process is currently moving on two fronts. On the one hand, a large number of companies are obliged by law to employ disabled workers; on the other hand, there are companies (type B social cooperatives) whose ultimate aim is to prepare disabled people (also called “disadvantaged” in this case) for work. In the large number of companies that are obliged to employ disabled staff, the very frequent outcome is either the hiring of a person who is then “isolated” in tasks of little value to the company itself (in other words, hired but not included) or the deliberate choice to pay the penalties attached to not hiring, which are considered paradoxically “sustainable” when compared with the burden of managing a person considered of little value.
Why is this? The motivation is, after all, quite simple: companies are used to and want to continue working in situations where every activity, machine, equipment, place, process is designed for “standard” people. Every difference is experienced as a source of inefficiency.

It is undoubtedly true that the initial and continuous training of disabled workers is in some cases significantly higher, but why? One of the answers is easily identifiable: the effort in training/preparing disabled workers for any job task is linked to the very purpose of such training, i.e., to provide them with the same skills as non-disabled workers. In other words, even the training that companies design and implement is not inclusive, but rather aimed at bringing disabled workers into line with others.

What should be done to change the status quo?

A profound cultural change is needed. Companies need to critically study their processes, in order to identify those aspects of them that can be carried out with “different” characteristics; by doing so, these “different characteristics” no longer require an effort to be adapted and included, but become naturally functional, and therefore naturally included.

This type of analysis is what social co-operatives (manufacturing or agricultural companies in the true sense of the word, which primarily employ disabled workers) must undertake on a daily basis in order to understand, for example, how an assembly process can be “subdivided and supported” in order to be efficiently and effectively carried out by a wide range of disabled workers.

This focus on processes has the secondary effect of simplifying them, and therefore reducing errors, which translates into a reduction in waste and an overall increase in efficiency.
So, being aware that everyone in the company is “different” can become an important lever for change: every activity, machine, equipment, place, process, which used to be designed for “standard” people, can finally be designed in an worker-centric and non-standard-centric way.

What is the point of the flexibility of the components of production systems (machines, lines, roles, …), which has been much sought after in recent decades, if it is not then used on an ongoing basis to review processes and tasks in the search for an ever better overall system configuration? If this were the approach, inclusion would no longer be sought as such.
We are realising that inclusion cannot be forced: if it is imposed, as is the legislative approach, it turns into reclusion in many cases. Instead, acknowledging that each worker has her/his own potential value for the company becomes a lever to configure production systems and make them increasingly competitive.

After all, who among us has never thought “I have the right person in mind for this”? It is simply a matter of starting to acknowledge the individual strengths of all people – including those with disabilities.
Let’s start here. And let’s not close our eyes: some companies already do!

Scientific research: Covid-19 changes activities and spaces

More research is done individually and women in the Italian academy have returned to university environments less than their male colleagues

 

The pandemic also has an impact on the way research is carried out and consequently on the way university environments are experienced. An interdisciplinary research group at the Politecnico di Milano, consisting of Gianandrea Ciaramella, Alessandra Migliore and Chiara Tagliaro from the Department of Architecture, Construction Engineering and Built Environment (DABC) and of Massimo G. Colombo and Cristina Rossi-Lamastra of the Department of Management Engineering (DIG), collected the experiences of 8,049 university academics (49% women, 51% men, average age 51 years) throughout Italy between 24 July and 24 September 2020.

University researchers, like other high-capacity workers, have changed their ways of working because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The implications of this phenomenon, which the research group calls Covid-working, are multiple, particularly in terms of organising the space for their work. The questions addressed to the academics concerned the way of carrying out research (individual or collaborative) and the spaces used to carry out their research activities (as research enablers) in the period before and during Covid-19.

The results show very clear trends. Firstly, the data shows a general trend towards a more individualised approach to research activities compared to the pre-Covid period. Due to physical distancing, research has become an activity that is more individual than collaborative. In particular, researchers in the Life Sciences (LS) and Physical Sciences and Engineering (PE) are moving from work mainly balanced between individual and collaborative research to research that is drastically more individual (from an average of four times per week at the university to little more than once). Researchers in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities (SH) undergo a less drastic “individualisation”, as they are already used to this kind of activity.

Second, with the progressive relaxation of the lockdown, a different scene is playing out in the return to university spaces: gender differences are emerging in terms of workspace organisation. In fact, at the end of the first wave of the pandemic, most women continued to do research from home, while men started to use other workplaces to a greater extent: not only the university, but also third-party spaces such as laboratories and public libraries. This trend already began to take shape during the first period of severe social restrictions.
Women seem to be penalised, in particular, because in the pre-Covid era they used shared spaces in greater numbers than men and now, because of the need for physical separation, they find it more difficult to return to their usual place of work. In fact the data shows that men, during the gradual reopening of university campuses, have returned more than once a week to their predominantly single offices, while women, with predominantly shared offices, work from home more than their male colleagues (4-5 times a week).

The first results of the analysis therefore show how research is becoming more individual in general (the percentage of collaborative research activity increases from 42% pre-Covid-19 to 31% today, while individual activity increases by about 10%) and how men, both before and during Covid-working, have more access to diverse working environments.  The effects of this new organisation of work are still to be studied in depth, especially with reference to the categories most penalised: not only women but also young researchers who, according to the data collected, have suffered a substantial decrease in their collaborative research activity at a crucial stage of their academic career.

The data on Italian researchers therefore raises important questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the characteristics and quality of scientific research:

  • Is there is a causal relationship between individual or collaborative research activities and the spaces available? Will the space for scientific research maintain its primary function as a meeting point between the individual and the collective dimension?
  • What is the impact of new ways of spatial organisation of research activities on the home-work balance and the production of scientific results? Is it the same for men and women?
  • How can university campuses of the future be redesigned to fully promote equal opportunities in research and career progression? How much can physical space favour these objectives?

 

For more information, read the press release.

Symplatform 2021: an international symposium on digital platforms

 

Over the last years, the relevance of digital-based business model increased significantly. AirBnb, Uber or BlaBlaCar showed the great potentialities of companies that aim to get together different groups of customers – like travelers and hosts – through the opportunities provided by digital technologies.

We are pleased to launch the second edition of Symplatform, a symposium on digital platforms that aims to get together both scholars and practitioners.

Symplatform is a joint project developed by Trinity College Dublin, Politecnico di Milano School of Management and Audencia Business School. 

The second edition will take place digitally through 4 sessions between May 17th and May 20th from 2 pm. To 3.30 pm (CET).

The symposium is going to be based on various formats: parallel sessions with academic papers, “Pitch your challenge” sessions led by practitioners and collaborative workshops to help the platform field to move forward.

Further information can be found at Symplatform.com.