Italian tiles: excellence built on research and investments
Product and process innovation has always been a characteristic feature of the Italian ceramic tile industry. It is the result of research activities conducted in the laboratories of individual companies backed up by the joint efforts of organisations and institutions such as the Centro Ceramico di Bologna, the University of Bologna and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, which through cooperation with national research organisations (CNR and Enea) contribute to the creation of a network capable of supporting the entire ceramic industry.
An essential factor for maintaining productive efficiency lies in the investments that the Italian ceramic industry channels each year into technological innovation. In the year 2001 alone, the ceramic tile manufacturers set aside more than 300 million euro for maintaining existing plant and purchasing new technologies with the precise aim of achieving the highest levels of automation and optimising the entire production process at a world level. In recent years the investments made by the Italian companies in the sector have accounted for between 4 and 6% of total turnover. This has contributed to the growth of the production system and has consolidated the Italian ceramic industry's excellence at a world level. As a consequence of this unceasing quest for technological innovation, Italy has always been the country where new product types first develop. This was the case with monocottura in the 1980s, and the process has now repeated itself with porcelain tile, the latest product innovation developed during the 1990s.