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It’s time to our annual date with the students of the Automation of Electric Transport Systems course of Politecnico of Milan.

The lesson was held by our colleague Alberto Colombo, who again this year had the honor of taking on the role of a teacher.

We talked about many issues related to communication networks, systems design and controls in railway application.

During the lesson various examples were proposed and many questions from students, which demonstrate the interest of the students and the undisputed validity of these initiatives.

The goal is to proactively engage students to create a union between theory and the world of real applications.

We thank once again our colleague Alberto Colombo for his availability, Professor Michela Longo, as organizer of the event and the assistant Cristian Giovanni Colombo.

SPII has always actively collaborated with the Politecnico di Milano through degree theses, research doctorates, internships and events.

About events, we remind you of the PMI Day event on November 19th.

See you next time,
Simona Gianoli


How many things can you do with your feet?

How many things can you do with your feet? 1000 600 Spii

The human foot is a work of art and an engineering masterpiece (Michelangelo Buonarroti)

How many actions do you perform with your feet, often even without thinking about it?

Don’t just consider common actions such as walking or running but for example when you drive your car, when you practice your favorite sport and, perhaps, even in the workplace.

The position of the legs, and of the feet in particular, plays a central role in the work and driving stations, especially in cases where there are pedals or other controls to be operated with the feet.

While driving a train, for example, the driver operates the pedals to activate various functions, including the confirmation of “person presence and altertness” (dead man function), the operation of the sandboxes, of the horn and the adjustment of the footrest height.


As a center of competence for human-machine devices, we design and manufacture pedals according to the specific requirements of the customer, as well as use them integrated in our footrests and driver desks, always making available our expertise in Technology, Ergonomics and Style.

The main feature that identifies a pedal is the number and type of positions it must have.


For workstations subject to more severe working conditions, we offer products available in the catalogue but, at the same time, we are always looking for new solutions developed according to the customer’s needs. Products with IP protection, designed to withstand the access of water, dust and foreign bodies, are essential in these circumstances.

Our high-quality pedals offer high performance, reliability in any environment and durability and are present on driver desks all over the world from Europe to Australia, passing through Russia and America.


The output interface is customizable and configurable, via electrical connections, and / or communication protocols (Can Open, ethernet, Profinet etc). It is also possible to define the most suitable degree of safety, even with SIL certification.

Would you like to learn more? Visit our website:

See you on the next time,
Stefano Milani




SPII and Italdesign welcome you to the new future!

Train drivers were asked to imagine and create their workplace with the new #V-Desk.

They were the first to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new reality that combines creativity and technology.

Watch the video and find out their reactions!

We look forward to seeing you from 28 to 30 September at ExpoFerroviaria.

Hall 16, Stand P90.

See you next time,
Simona Gianoli

avanchair project

When your Vision shapes your Future: SPII & Avanchair

When your Vision shapes your Future: SPII & Avanchair 1443 1211 Spii
crowdfunding avanchair
Avanchair’s crowdfunding campaign

June 13th, 2021 was a very special day.

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but on that day the life of 130 million people worldwide may have taken a turn for good.
That’s how many people would benefit from Andrea Depalo’s invention, Avanchair, according to the Wheelchair Foundation.

On that day, indeed, his “smart” wheelchair reached its crowdfunding goal on Eppela.

Now a new chapter begins: Avanchair needs to move from “dream” to “reality”.

And we at SPII are happy to be part of it, lending our knowledge and experience in Human-Machine Interfaces to this amazing project.

Not only because it will help millions of people overcome their disability and live a better life.

But also because Avanchair is an original and beautiful manifestation of our Mission and Vision.

And when you let your Vision shape your Future, great things happen.

When innovation is born

wheelchair classic
Some of the everyday actions disabled people need help with – before Avanchair

Andrea Depalo is an Italian entrepreneur who had a dream: help people with a disability like himself move more freely.

A dream that started to become a Vision some years ago, when he first pictured the idea of Avanchair.

A wheelchair that could help its users perform a number of movements, thanks to a motorized seat that can move vertically and horizontally.

With this simple but essential innovation, the persons using the chair can get closer to a car, a bathroom, a bed or any other surface they may want to move to, empowering them to be more autonomous and free during their everyday life.

An innovation that is simple…but also enormously complex.
It needs, among the rest, a human-machine interface that is essential, easy to use, precise and effective.

Something we at SPII know well about.

The initial connection between Andrea and SPII was totally random: by chance, the entrepreneur lives maybe 300 meters away from the company’s headquarters, in Saronno.

So at the very beginning of this journey, few years ago, we met, we exchanged opinions, we gave him suggestions about the technological side, we pledged our interest to the project.

During the following years, Andrea went on “building” his idea: he found sponsors, partners such as Enel, and the project grew stronger and stronger.

And now, with the crowdfunding campaign successfully concluded, it’s closer than ever to becoming a reality!

There is still much to do before some actual work together can begin, but we knew from the very beginning there was something there – a bond, a connection.

A shared Vision.

intelliarm and avanchair
The HMI from Intelliarm could be similar to the one of Avanchair

When a shared Vision is born

If you have read our story so far, you know that our company has always been strongly tied to the train industry. As the market leader for components and safety devices for railway and industrial applications, we have always been very focused.

But we also had something else, something that made us look further away and beyond our industry.
Something that would later become our motto, synthesizing our Vision and Mission in a sentence:


Wheelchairs are not SPII’s specialty for sure…but mobility is.

Wherever we can” is not only a slogan, is a way of being: it’s the way we look at the world, the recipe we use to navigate decisions. It’s how we want to be, and how we want other people to be.

Mobility is in our DNA – as it is sustainability, diversity, inclusion. All values we strongly saw from the very beginning in Avanchair.

When, in recent years, SPII had to rely more than ever on its resilience, we decided to look deeply into our company’s soul, with an effort to grow with the times and stay relevant to society’s needs.

What emerged is well summarized in our About Us page:

  • It’s a Vision that sees a human being at the center of an automated and robotized world;
  • and it’s a Mission that sees us providing the best possible solutions for the interaction between humans and machines, through technology, style and ergonomics.

This consciousness is what led us so far, what informs our decisions and the projects we work on.

It’s what allowed us to build an innovative solution like IntelliArm, which was awarded with a RedDot for its design.

It’s what led us to support Elli&Rini with their last creation, PIANETA. Or to partner with ItalDesign and work on a solution like V-Desk to integrate AR into the industrial process.

And it is what makes us want to contribute to Avanchair: because we see technology as a tool to improve people’s health, happiness and freedom.

So what is a better fit for SPII than a robotized wheelchair, which leverages automation to allow its users to be all of the above?

Interview to Andrea Depalo, Avanchair’s founder

Our expertise goes well beyond trains: it goes wherever we can.

And we want to help allow people with disability do the same.

Are you curious to know how the Avanchair project evolves?
Keep in touch with us and follow the dedicated website and Facebook page.

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol


One vision: from competition to cooperation

One vision: from competition to cooperation 1024 684 Spii

What do you think is the best way to make people cooperate?

Give them a common goal? Make them feel part of something greater, you say?
Yes, sure, it may work.

But what we found out to work best is something slightly different.
If you want people to truly cooperate at a deeper level you need to…add instead a little bit of competition!

You don’t believe it? Well, look at what happened with SPIIEvo and you will think again.

Divide to unify: the formula of Evolution

We have already told you how with SPIIEvo the whole company was divided into smaller groups, each of them identified by one Element (Water, Air, Earth and Fire). And how they all went separately through a journey of change, in order to find one game-changing idea each to propose to the management.

They would then compete with each other to become the “winning Element” that would offer the most interesting idea to improve the company.

What we didn’t tell you yet is that this all was a well-defined plan to actually make them cooperate at a higher level than ever before!

Every Element would include more than one group: week after week, during every edition of the activity, every one of them would experience the same thing, and they would be evaluated with a grade based on their results.
Water, Air, Earth and Fire 1 each got a grade, then Water, Air, Earth and Fire 2, and 3, and so on…

They were all separated. But really they were all the same, because each Element would then be counted together, as a whole: so the score of the group “Air 1” was added to “Air 2”, and so on. In order to win and gain more points, a transversal cooperation between competing groups was actually essential!

Edition after edition, a ranking of the 4 Elements was generated, to which every single team has given its contribution through its own overall score: this ranking is the basis of the gamification system of a program such as Evolution, which involves, focuses, and unites.

After each edition, the updated rankings are posted throughout the company.

The effect is twofold: on the one hand, the increasing involvement of those who have already participated in the event, and on the other, the increasing expectations of those who have yet to participate and don’t know what is going to happen.

This generates an incredible hype and also a transversal group spirit.
People from one element or another would wear the same colors, the same branded pins, and develop an incredible sense of belonging.
You’re creating not only attachment, but also a growing, exponential sense of expectation – all towards the final event.

But at the same time something special happens. A paradox.

By separating people into 4 different teams and many more groups, you create competition.

But on the other hand you promote identification with the company as a whole, you create a strong and cohesive company culture, based on a common language that can be understood and spoken only by the ones who feel part of it.

Human beings are programmed that way, attachment to the team is inevitable.

And the entire EVOLUTION path leverages exactly this factor: edition after edition, people become more and more attached to the Element of their team, generating a spirit of unity and support.

One vision is all you need to have

So what?

After months of this both playful and serious competition, the day of the final event comes.

The 4 best groups from each edition and Element are on stage, in front of all their colleagues and friends, and have to present their ideas and convince the jury their one is the best.

So you will find yourself with 4 different groups, united under the flag of 4 different elements, competing against each other for the first prize and for the glory.

How can you make it possible for EVERYONE to win, at this stage? How can you keep everybody engaged, actively and purposefully participating?

This is where the real trick is done.

A new rule is introduced: the audience is divided once more into the 4 elements, and then additional points are offered to the element that belongs to those in the audience who find ways to improve on the ideas of those on stage!

Can you see it? This is explosive.
This way:

  • the audience must listen actively to understand and propose new solutions;
  • those who participate feel engaged because they contribute to make their element win;
  • but they ultimately find ways for EVERYONE to win, because it’s good for the company.

This is what you mean when you say “win-win solutions“!

Are you building a cathedral?

Do you see it now?

Competition doesn’t have to be a tool to declare a winner and a loser.
It can be a metaphor, a way to stimulate a company culture that is cohesive and cooperative.

It can transform the way people work, engage and consider themselves within a company.

Have you ever heard the story of the three bricklayers?

A traveler came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing and the man said he was laying bricks.

He asked the second man the same question and he said he was putting up a wall.

When he got to the third man and asked him what he was doing, he said he was building a cathedral.

They were all doing the same thing. The first man had a job. The second man had a career. The third man had a calling.

The path of EVOLUTION that Unreal Training helped us walk by was not only designed to improve our company culture and stimulate new, innovative solutions. It was aimed at building a cathedral, and have everyone on board knowing they were working with a purpose.

Within SPII we all participated in SPIIEvo, everyone had to take part in it; the degree of discretion was with what commitment to do so.
Everyone had to decide which of the 3 workers working on the cathedral to be.

What do you think? Have you ever seen competition in this light?

See you next time,


Company processes at the service of products – SIL master controller

Company processes at the service of products – SIL master controller 1000 600 Spii

Company processes are the way to achieve the best possible quality for products designing, manufacturing and validation. In this article we will focus on the quality process applied to validation, especially the activities from the customer needs to the completion of the product SIL assessment.

SIL stands for Safety Integrity Level and it is intended as a risk reduction upon a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF). These risk levels, linked to customer defined safety functions, are identified through risk matrixes and other mathematical calculations function on how the total safety is allocated upon the entire train system. SIL lever are going from Basic Integrity Level (the lowest, less safe) to SIL4 (the highest and safest).
Achieving a certain SIL level means having a sufficient organization to guarantee existence and independence of the involved company functions. Moreover, a design, verification and validation process for both hardware and software able to manage requirement and to generate drawings, source codes, type tests and report is essential for this goal.

SPII is able to provide SIL products solutions for both hardware and software according to standards EN 50129 and EN 50657 and manage its own design process in quality according to standard ISO/TS 22163

Master controller functions such as dead-man device, operator presence control, analog and digital encoder outputs, even if developed with software assistance, can be SIL certified, fully embracing the fusion of technology, ergonomics and safety, at the basis of SPII working philosophy. 

Do you want to learn more? Click here:

See you next time,
Davide Rossi


RECEPTION 2.0 2560 2113 Spii

 “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” (Oscar Wilde)

We have decided to give our company a new face!

We started from the place where hospitality originates and which represents our business card: the reception.

This area represents an image of the team, the cleanliness of the spaces, the services offered and the care we have towards our guests.

A good experience starts from the first second a person enters our work environment, until the moment they leave it, and we already begin to offer the best possible experience.

It is therefore about our image, the vision and the mission that we convey.

We felt it was our duty to give our reception an image that reflects us, both in terms of appearance and hospitality.

As soon as you walk through the doors of our company, our philosophy of thought is clearly visible: “Think different” – a message that invites you to think outside the box to be projected into the future in search of innovative and unconventional ideas.

Continuing towards the entrance, on the ceiling you can see a black symbol, which tells the story of a journey and expresses the soul of our company.

The symbol is oriented towards the people represented on the bottom of the wall and shapes the segment of a track in a central perspective: imagine you are driving a train observing the two parallel lines that converge to infinity.

And here we are. Projected towards a road to go and a goal to reach …. together!

Our Vision sees the human being at the center of an automated and robotic future world.

Creating the best conditions for interaction between humans and machine, through technology, style and ergonomics is our Mission.

The source of inspiration are people, their desire to grow and learn with enthusiasm and passion, their proactive contribution to create a place where creativity, skills and different cultures can coexist.

People represent the origin of technological change.

SPII technology is designed to be at the service of people, evolving while respecting the environment, thus ensuring a unique value.

This image also represents our Community: a space designed to inspire new ideas, share technologies and experiences, among people from all over the world.

During the stay at our company, the first moments of contact are relevant.

The welcome will be given by the smile of our receptionists, who will take care of creating a welcoming and warm atmosphere upon entering the company.

During the short moments of waiting, you can sit in our relaxation room and have a coffee or a glass of water offered by our staff.

Inside the room, a display with a video shows our company reality: who we are, what we do and how we do it.

We started by giving our reception a new look, but there are still a lot of projects in the pipeline and we can’t wait to show you our next changes!

Stay tuned!

WhereverWeCan – wherever inspiration lies, with passion, curiosity and courage.

See you next time,
Simona Gianoli

Innovation and the power of a train drivers’ community

Innovation and the power of a train drivers’ community 1024 576 Spii

We ended our latest technical article on “How to include train drivers in the design process” with a rather open question: how can you overcome all the problems and obstacles that obstruct the way towards a true User Centered Design (UCD) of train desks?

How can you really involve train drivers, the actual users, in the design process, overcoming the limits given by time, space and limited resources?

If you remember, though, we also gave you a peak into our answers: we need to make good use of the last and most evolved digital innovations.

This can be done in two ways: one is creating new innovative solutions, and it’s the direction we are working on with ItalDesign and our incredible V-Desk.

The other one is leveraging on the existing solutions, bending them to our needs towards a “social innovation”.

Today I want to tell you more about this second kind.

It all starts with a question

We started from traditional driver desks, from a console that identified us as a manufacturer of train parts.
In time, we raised our mission to man-machine interfaces that adapt to everything, a new kind of ergonomic products that opened up new scenarios: everything became possible.

A new question popped out in our heads: “what if…?”.

We understood it was not just about updating our main product, it was time to actually restart from scratch.

We wanted to challenge ourselves, our competitors and our clients.

To guide them into worlds they could not have imagined, with the courage to ignore outdated paradigms, but without totally destroying them. We wanted to connect with what already was, without precluding new worlds that we couldn’t even imagine.

So, when we started the process of designing IntelliArm, we didn’t know much.
We just had this epiphany: that we couldn’t give anything for granted.

The way things had been done until now was not clearly the best in terms of ergonomics. They were what we believed to be the only options just because no one had ever tried something different (except for Star Trek, of course).

So we knew we needed to start from scratches. From a blank space, at which center we had to place a human being, to start designing around him or her.

Not just any human being, though: we needed a train driver.
Possibly we needed more than one, so that we could confront different opinions, bodies, ways of driving, etc.

But where could we found them? And how could we convince them to offer us their practical knowledge and to spare their precious time informing our design choices?

We realized that we had the answer before our eyes.

A powerful tool at our fingertips

What am I talking about, you ask? Simple: the social networks.

Where else can you find hundred, thousands, possibly millions of people who have exactly the characteristics that you need? Where else can you interact with them as if they were one, asking them to express their opinion and listening to their voices?

We were lucky enough to have this amazing opportunity at our fingertips: SPII’s community online is strong, cohesive and engaged. The visitors from our website span to almost every Country in the world.

SPII’s LinkedIn profile in particular had grown over the years organically, counting thousands and thousands of followers from all over the World. They span among train drivers, train managers, train crew, technical personnel and so on.

We had seen it over the years, through their comments, their social shares and the technical answers they gave to our posts. We knew they had something to say.

A comment on one of our articles

This is why we did the simplest thing, something that no one had done before: we just asked them what they wanted to improve.

We wanted to lead the way.
But they needed to tell us where to go.

We didn’t know the answers…but we did know the questions!

Use the tools you already have wisely

So, we had our human being(s). We just needed the tools to listen to them and put them at the center of our design.

Wait, we had the tools! LinkedIn allowed us to do something really powerful: polls.

So we started creating polls at every step of the way, to verify and inform our choices about IntelliArm’s design.

One of our Polls on LinkedIn

The answers were extraordinary.
We knew we were on to something.
So we kept questioning.

People clearly had something to say. And they wanted to say it, eventually!

Suddenly we were swimming in comments and feedback on what was wrong and what needed improvement, directly from the people who would know it best.

We let these informations lead the way at every step of our design process, and when we were done, we knew we had something really disruptive. Not so much as to be frightening, but just enough to be a real change in the industry.

What we didn’t know was if the community of train workers would agree with us.

So we asked them.

Innovation is a delicate thing

You need to push the boundaries of what is known and is working, but not so much that people will not follow you because they are scared.

When a community of thousands of train staff confirmed our theory, we knew we had done it right.

And the success of IntelliArm, including prizes like the Red Dot we were awarded with, definitely confirmed it.

We knew it was not only a design exercise, or a new product development.
It was the beginning of a new era for the industry, one where we could change the rules of the game. 

We pictured a future that involves the users in the creation process. And we made it real.

One where the design process is bent to the human being at its center, as stated in our Vision.

Just wait and see what this “social innovation” will do when combined with “hard innovations” like V-Desk…

Until then…

See you next time,
Ilaria Cazziol




The world is evolving, especially towards the technological path.
It is changing faster than ever and we are changing with it!

During the last few years, the collaboration between SPII and Italdesign has been strengthened and new ideas and projects were born. 

The combination of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and physical products are the essence of V-Desk

The new product was created thinking about the train driver’s needs in terms of Ergonomics, Design and Technology but also the car builder’s needs of reducing time to market, customization and flexibility. 

In a few months HMI devices will get a boost towards the future!

SPII and Italdesign are pleased to announce a première dedicated to TRAIN DRIVERS

In September, at Italdesign’s headquarter, a selected group of train drivers will be the first to see, to touch and to test the V-Desk.

After that, the official presentation to train operators and car builders will be during the Expo Ferroviaria Fair!

Welcome to the future…

No, to the present!

V-Desk is now reality.

See you next time,
Simona Gianoli

sezionatore modulare

Let’s make safety a team goal!

Let’s make safety a team goal! 1004 602 Spii
Picture 1 – source: Verga Formazione – Electrical Risk Course

We speak more and more often about workplace safety referring to the set of measures and assessments that must be implemented to protect the health and integrity of workers from surrounding risks.
Each company, therefore, cannot exempt itself from giving the subject the attention it deserves by leveraging on two dimensions: prevention and protection.

Whether it is a construction site, an office or your home, risk factors, accidents and injuries, occupational diseases must be eliminated or, at least, reduced and controlled. This is certainly also reflected in the productivity and development of the company itself.
Certainly some types of work present greater dangers than others; for example, the maintenance of railway vehicles and exposure to high voltage electricity requires the presence of highly qualified and trained personnel in addition to the presence of safety devices, such as voltage detectors, earthing switches, insulation sticks.

The protection and safety of maintenance systems, on board trains or infrastructures, is therefore guaranteed by means of devices capable of ensuring maximum reliability for operators, even in the most severe environmental conditions (for example, in coastal or industrial areas or in presence of extreme temperatures …).

Picture 2 – manually operated earthing switch complete with safety locks.

Interrupting the power supply and then grounding a high voltage circuit efficiently before performing maintenance is essential for the safety of personnel.

The human factor is fundamental and our goal is to allow the operator to act easily and without the possibility of error, in complete safety and serenity.

In this context, our manually operated earthing switch is a valuable ally in the daily work of thousands of maintenance workers. Ergonomics, ease of operation and certainty of the result are essential features for these safety devices. At SPII we design solutions that want to make life easier: easy to define, configure, install, use and maintain.

Picture 3 – manually operated modular disconnector

The modular and multipole disconnector is used for applications from 600V to 3KV DC. It is highly configurable according to the specific application: it can vary in the number of poles, in the switching sequence and in the operating mode (manual, electric, pneumatic).

Picture 4 – earthing switch, front view (operating lever and safety lock)

The safety of our devices can be further increased by integrating diagnostic modules for sending information, for example temperature, position or contact wear, to CBM systems or they can be equipped with safety devices such as locks, exchangers or key holders.

Picture 5 – knife switch (1)

Our traditional knife switch is also used for grounding the HV circuits downstream of the traction converter. The blades, in this configuration, are operated directly by the maintenance operator by means of an insulation stick.
The range of application is very wide in terms of both voltage (from 600-750V DC to 3KV DC) and rated operating current. Also in this case, the solution is plug & play and can be supplied with an integrated box for all components, complete with wiring and pre-tested in the laboratory.

Our disconnectors are compact, flexible in use, reliable and require little maintenance.

Picture 6 – knife switch (2)

Technology, Safety and Ergonomics? These are the keywords.

Learn more:

See you next time!
Valentina Marrese