The world of machines: marginal notes

We already announced it in the June issue and in our webmagazine: the packaging and wrapping machine sector continues to turn out record figures. We have had further confirmation during the press conference organized 26 June at Baggiovara (MO), alongside Ucima’s annual assembly, attended by a hundred or so heads and top managers from machine builder companies. Choice titbits of news offering further insight were not lacking. Stefano Lavorini

President Enrico Aureli and Director Paolo Gambuli appeared pleased, if not euphoric.
Together they summarized the most significant data of the 5th national statistical survey on the sector and talked about the prospects for the current year.
To sum things up, in 2016, the total turnover of the sub-sector exceeded 6.6 billion, exports 5.3 billion and the Italian market 1.3 billion, respectively up  by  6,6%  5.8% and 9.8%  on 2015.
The number of active companies - 601 against 588 in 2015 – has increased, so too the number of employees, totalling 29,644 (+ 6.2%). The growth prospects are good. According to data for the first quarter of the current year, both sales generated by the Italian market (orders + 9.9%) and sales abroad (+ 13%) showed growth.

Question and answer
We don’t give you figures. Gambuli strove to underline that not only were new estimates provided during the assembly, but the variance between previous forecasts and final balance figures were given: «the margin of error lies between 0.8%, in terms of the world market and 3-5% according to some specific geographic areas».

Customer sectors see-sawing. Aureli remarked that, for the first time in 2016, in the break-down per customer sector, food, that has grown 11.4%, has outstripped beverage. A result to be put down in part to the promotion of flagship Italian products, drawn on by Expo, that also had positive effects on machinery, in part «due to the capacity of our builders to adjust the offer to the new market demands quicker than the Germans». The cosmetics sector shows a counter-trend, having registered a 9.7% drop in turnover, due to the smaller size of the companies in the sector, compared to food and pharma, that has penalised their performance on the international markets. Despite this the sector, along with the pharmaceutical sector, is best in class in terms of profitability.

Ally to compete. The world packaging machine market in a few years will by worth around 50 billion dollars and continues to draw new competitors.
In order to be able to seize the opportunities implicit to this growth dynamic, the president stated, «we are set on creating a network of global fairs which sees Germans and Italians as allies».
Considering the fact that these two countries are the biggest players at world level, invoicing more that 50% of instrumental goods for packaging, there is every reason to set about jointly pinpointing the fairs and the states to invest in.
«This is why Ucima has invested in Ipack-Ima and has sought an agreement with Messe Duesseldorf (interpack), that we completing, with the objective of best promoting the technology of our associates».

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Time for shopping…for China and not only her. The purchase of key Italian and European machine-building companies by Chinese groups is a threat. Aureli does not mince words. Figures for 2015 already indicate a worrying turnaround in China’s packaging machine trade balance, with an increase in exports towards main markets, like the USA: the alarm bells are already ringing.
In 2016 this growth slowed but, against that, certain «local for local operations took place that stunned us». First and foremost the buy-up by Midea Group of  Kuka, one of the most technologically advanced German companies, as well as the more recent purchase of Romaco by Truking Group, with all indicators and multiples for evaluating sector companies  having been resultingly shifted off balance.
«The Chinese have shown they are even prepared to pay a high price in order to enter into our industrial fabric and gain a market position».
And  yet at this point in time the machine market is not just interesting for the Chinese, but also for the Americans, as the purchase of P.E. Labellers by the Pro Mach Inc shows.
«To avoid what happened to the Italian luxury sector, that “went over” to the French, as an association we are set to encourage networking, so that we might be in a position to dialogue among ourselves, before offering our companies to “the foreigner”.

Industry 4.0 «We have striven a lot for Industry 4.0, because we saw our companies geared to offering the Italian manufacturing market the possibility of renewal, of modernizing their production systems. We are proud of the results obtained, despite the fact that a project of this kind needs much more than a year». The president then reiterated that, at any rate, the sector will benefit from the same and that the Italian market is expected to grow even more than it did in 2016, already a bumper year. He then warned: «It’s just the start of things, because we have to stimulate and ready our customers to make best use of the new technologies to be able to draw the maximum benefits from the same».

Ipack-Ima on my mind. That not only the German, but also the Italian machine segment has the right to present the world its own technology, is Ucima’s salient thought.
«More than a year from Ipack-Ima, that we experience as our fair, we have a lot of faith», Aureli stated. «Our first user catchment area will be the countries around the Mediterranean rim, but our objective is to develop a fair that is co-leader in the packaging sector. We have invested considerable association resources to make sure that the 2018 edition is the first of a new era».
That is to say we expect a true and proper rebirth, with the return of the larger companies and quality contents.
 

07/07/2017