Column number 81 – 2021

The recovery of markets and production continues, even if the situation linked to the pandemic still causes considerable uncertainty as to how solid this recovery is actually. In spite of the lock-downs of last winter and spring 2021, of the forecasts of further restrictions related to the Delta variant, the machine tool sector is showing optimism, in a growth curve that has now lasted for several quarters.

At a European level, the machine tool industry is experiencing a moment of particular enthusiasm, not only from the point of view of production, but also from the point of view of orders which, during the first quarter of 2021, have seen growth both in terms of of the previous quarter, and compared to the same quarter of the year 2020. If in the latter case the growth was almost predictable, even if at the European level the lock-downs in 2020 took place between the beginning of March and April, that is, between the first and second quarters, the growth compared to the already positive fourth quarter of 2020 marks a point of particular optimism and positivity in the sector. Optimism and positivity that apply both to orders on the domestic market, which increased by 47% compared to the first quarter of 2020, and to those on the foreign market, which grew by 31%. Orders are also growing in Italy: in the first quarter of 2021, orders for machine tools from Italian manufacturers return to growth. In particular, the UCIMU index, prepared by the Association’s Centro Studi Cultura di Impresa, shows, in the first three months of the year, an increase of 48.6% compared to the same period of 2020. In absolute value, the index is is attested to 169 (base 100 in 2015).

The overall result was mainly determined by the excellent performance of manufacturers on the domestic market. On the domestic front, in fact, the Italian manufacturers report an increase in orders of 157.9% compared to the same period of the previous year. The absolute value of the index stood at 195.5. On the foreign front, orders grew by 30.5% compared to the period January-March 2020. The absolute value of the index stood at 155. Still at a European level, the industrial production index has returned to pre-crisis levels, another important sign of absolute positivity.

Another element of great importance that is still lacking in the global industrial landscape, beyond the possibility of moving easily for reasons of work and commerce, and directly connected to this, is the restart of the exhibition activity. There are events of great importance on the exhibition scene: in October it is time for Made In Steel, the event of the steel supply chain which in the spring was always postponed due to the pandemic; in November it is the turn of EMO, one of the world’s largest machine tool fairs that this year will see its stage in Milan, as part of the rotation with Hanover. These are two fundamental moments, which we will discuss in detail in the next issue, which should give the definitive signal to restart also for a sector that has suffered particularly in the last 18 months and which in history has represented a fundamental vehicle for promotion, marketing and sales.