Technology time: we’re talking about it with Dario Corbetta

Alright, exhibitions are no longer what they used to be. We have discovered new tools and realized that marketing has more arrows in the quiver, that you can show even the most complex lines via web, that you can skip some business trips, that meeting in person is nice only if it bears fruit, otherwise…
So, more than ever, it’s time to ask some questions, to look around, to try and understand what really matters and what we can do without.

Maybe you have already heard about these concepts, maybe they sound banal, but they come back on the eve of every exhibition, which is not just a showcase, but an opportunity to look inside and around you, to draw some conclusions. Or, at least, try to…
That’s what we do in this issue of Xylon: in the next days you will be projected into stories with many tellers, about what wood and furniture technology is today. We have cast our spotlights onto this business and created a collection of stories, previews, product factsheets, reviews, interviews, that, among the lines, will tell you more than it seems.
So, enjoy your reading and get ready to see what is going to happen from now on.

We decided to start with a few figures. We turned to Dario Corbetta, director of Acimall, the Italian association of woodworking machinery and tools manufacturers, which is also the publisher of this magazine. The Studies office of the association has just published a report that provides an overview of the big world of “our” technology. Starting from Italy, of course, knowing that our country is a global reference, second to Germany only in terms of total production, with 2.5 million euro versus 3.5 of the German industry.

Italy has excellent cards to play in this game: a deep knowledge of all value chain production processes and excellent technique and technology“, Corbetta said. We are by far the best in surface finishing, with an economic system mostly made up of small and medium businesses, few giants and a bunch of companies we can consider “big”. Our industry was not disrupted by the pandemic, on the contrary, after the falling trend due to factory lockdowns, it recovered immediately. It’s a highly specialized industrial organization which, due to industry inflation and boosting demand, has recorded an increase in revenues that has even resisted the invasion of Ukraine by Russian (a “shrinking” market in any case) and the closure of the Chinese market.
The war regions absorbed an estimated 5 percent of our export, and we cannot exclude that, as some indexes suggest, there are still goods “in transit” to those destinations”.

Can we continue to be optimistic?
Figures don’t lie: the recent past has been a record period and end-of-year figures are clear, with production passing the 2.6-billion-euro threshold in 2022. We must also say that our periodical surveys indicate decreasing orders in the past three quarters, due to the difficulties we all know, open questions about the “hot spots” of the planet, and the fact that all the markets are “overfilled” with new technology, investing in equipment that will now be up and running for a long period. Also the reduction of state incentives, in Italy and in many other countries, is not helping.
However, we have experienced fifteen years of substantial growth, following the same trend of the global economy, which suffered from the crisis of 2008 and then settled during the subsequent years, until achieving excellent results in 2018, followed by a phase of stagnation that we interrupted by the Covid pandemic, which took the indexes back upwards in 2020 and 2021, continuing, thought at a slower rate, through most of 2022.
This trend benefited the Italian companies, which this year should suffer from a reduction estimated between five and ten percent, which would bring it back to the excellent levels of 2021”.

Looking at the world, we can say that the competitors are still the same: Germany, China, partially taking over the role of Taiwan; the United States and Japan, which have a less global scope.
Italy has achieved excellent results on a global scale, with the Unites States confirming their role of best customers (220 million euro of “made in Italy” purchases, 34.6 more than in 2021), followed by France (155 million, plus 28.9 percent) and Germany Germania (129 million, plus 16.1 percent). These figures confirm that Italy’s key destinations are the countries with mature technology, interested in advanced technology. The figures of China (46 million euro export, down by 23.5 percent from 2021) need some attention, as this is a huge market where a myriad of domestic manufacturers are emerging“.

And what about Italian import?
In 2022, Italia purchased technology from abroad for a total value of 286 million euro, 13.7 percent more than the previous year. Germany, China and Austria are at the top of the Italian suppliers ranking: based on current information, Germany supplies high-end technology, while import from China surely include “made in Italy” machines manufactured in China by Italian companies, which are then “Europeanized”, a more and more popular approach that, in our opinion, deservers great attention.
We believe the same is true for India, while it’s hard to explain the strong growth of Spain (plus 120.8 percent of wood and furniture technology sold to Italy in 2022 compared to the previous year) and Poland (plus 292.8 percent), although we are talking about marginal volumes”.

Should we fear our competitors more than in the past?
“If we look at the data processed by our Studies office, we need not worry too much. On the export side, they all did worse: Germany recorded a 7.6 percent reduction, China decreased by 5.7 percent, Taiwan by 12.2 percent. OnlyAustria (652 million in value, plus 8.8 percent versus 2021), Japan (175 million, plus 15.8 percent) and Turkey increased, with the latter exporting machinery for 161 million euro, 37.6 percent more than the previous year, with an excellent result towards Russia, whose purchases increased by 150 percent, showing that the Erdogan-Putin alliance is consolidating also in this sector, or simply that through Turkey it is easier to ship embargoed machinery and technology. Good export results also for Switzerland, reaching 153 million with a 27.1 percent increase.
Going into the details of the data published on our website, China remains a dominant exporter of technology to the United States (422 million, down by 6.3 percent) and Vietnam (405 million, minus 17.89 percent), which are among the world’s top furniture producers.
Germany exported 271 million euro to the US (plus 6.3 percent) and 225 million to China (plus 12.4 percent), leveraging traditionally favorable relations”.

The figures remain good, but there are a few challenges, it seems…
“That’s right. Our industry is hardly attractive to young people, we have an enduring problem with generational change, and the average size of companies is definitely a drawback. It’s a mature industry where many excellent entrepreneurs are involved, and they must face a future that will evolve more and more rapidly”.

by Luca Rossetti

Technology time: we’re talking about it with Dario Corbetta ultima modifica: 2023-04-26T13:05:10+00:00 da Francesco Inverso