With a production value exceeding 6.3 billion euros, Italian machine tools closed in 2021 with an increase of 22.1% compared to the previous year. A strong recovery, which according to forecasts from Ucimu Business Studies & Culture Center – Sistemi Per Produrre, will continue in 2022, where production will exceed 7 billion (+ 10.9%), and return to above pre-pandemic levels.
Revenue in 2021 also grew significantly and exceeded the value of 9 billion euros after the collapse to 7.5 billion registered in 2020 (approximately + 20%).
Both national consumption and exports are growing
To return to the preliminary figures regarding the value of production for the current year, the result (6.325 million euros to be exact) was determined by the growth in both domestic and foreign sales.
In particular, domestic deliveries by Italian producers increased by 27.8% to 2,965 million euros. National consumption (the sum of the sales of Italian and foreign producers on the Italian market) was even more lively, recording a growth of 30.4% worth 4,645 million euros.
Exports, on the other hand, amounted to EUR 3,360 million (+ 17.4%). The export-to-production ratio is now 53%.
Italian exports of machine tools began to grow again in almost all exporting countries, with the exception of China: in Germany, the first destination country for the Made in Italy sector, sales grew to 256 million euros (+ 38.4%); in the United States they reached 251 million (+ 9.7%), in China 154 million (-5.3%), in Poland 118 million (+ 29%), in France 117 million (+1.2%).
The brake for lack of components and raw materials
“2021 proved to be a definite positive year for the Italian manufacturers of machine tools, robots and automation. Only the lack of some electrical and electronic components and raw materials prevented the loss recorded in 2020 from being fully recovered by the end of the year, which coincided with the outbreak of the pandemic “, stressed Barbara Colombo, President of UCIMU – Sistemi Per Produrre. “On the other hand, we still notice a large discrepancy between the trend in order collection and turnover, a sign of the extension of delivery times on the machinery due to the expectations of the deliveries that we manufacturers face”.
In particular, according to the survey conducted in October by the UCIMU Study Center on a representative sample of companies in the sector, 95% of companies declare that they experience delays in deliveries. The average delay is quantified at 3 months, which, added to the traditional one and a half month normal waiting time for the material, increases the delivery time on the delivery of components and materials to 4 and a half months. The effect of this delay on the delivery time of the machine is quantified by the survey respondents in 4 months. As a result, the average delivery time of the machinery is currently 9 nine months versus the 5 months traditionally insured by the manufacturer to the customer.
Hence the urgent request from Italian producers to include an extension in the budget law to overcome the “trap” that sets the deadline to 30 June 2021, which allows Italian production companies to benefit from the higher tariffs set in the Transition 4.0 plan for placed orders. and confirmed by 31/12/2021 (50% for 4.0 items and 10% for non-4.0 items, which will be reduced to 40% and 6% respectively in 2022). The proposal is one of the amendments being considered by the Senate Committee on Budgets.
The positive trend recorded in 2021 will also continue in 2022, a year that will coincide with the full recovery from the collapse due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
In particular, according to the forecasts prepared by the UCIMU Study Center, production will grow to 7,015 million in 2022 (+ 10.9% compared to 2021), driven by the recovery of exports, which will reach 3,620 million euros (+ 77.7%) and the increase in deliveries from domestic producers, which will increase to EUR 3,395 million (+ 14.5%).
Domestic consumption will also continue to grow, reaching 5,205 million euros, equivalent to 12.1% more than in 2021. Although imports are less than producers’ supplies, imports will also benefit from lively domestic demand, marking an increase at 7.7% (compared to the 2020s), which will bring the value up to 1.810 million euros. The export / production figure falls again and stops at 51.6%
The confirmation that growth recorded in 2021 will continue in 2022, as projected, also comes from the analysis of the order book for Italian producers for the third quarter of 2021 (latest available data), which stood at 7.6 months of production insured , the highest value recorded in the last 30 years.
According to Colombo “By 2022, not only will we have regained all the land that was lost with the health emergency, but for many indicators we will be able to return to record levels in 2018 because the market, especially the domestic one, is really bubbly. Especially in the light of a slower recovery of activity in foreign markets due to the restrictive measures still affecting human mobility, we note instead a great liveliness in Italian demand supported, at least in part, by government incentives for new investment. in production technology “.
The extension of the incentives to 2025 is good, but the reduction in rates is too abrupt
Ucimu is pleased with the extension provided for in the Transition 4.0 plan in the current Finance Bill, which allows for an extension of the incentives for the purchase of interconnected machines until 2025, however, at the cost of a significant halving of tariffs.
“The confirmation of the operation of these measures at least until the end of 2025 is certainly good news, because the process of updating and digital transformation of the Italian factories is still in the full implementation phase and must be supported and stimulated in every way. . ” .
Although within the framework of general appreciation, the President points out “some corrections which are necessary for the measures provided for in the plan to be truly effective”.
The first point is, as mentioned, the request for an extension of the deliveries of goods ordered in 2021. And then there is again on 4.0 machines the core of the tariffs. “While we understand the need to lower rates, we are calling for a softer peeling to be adopted so that it gradually accompanies the withdrawal of incentives set for 2025.”
In addition to the incentives for the purchase of 4.0 goods, Ucimu signals the possibility of also confirming the incentives for the purchase of non-4.0 machines and for 4.0 training.
With regard to the tax deduction for non-4.0 machines, which has not been confirmed for the period 2023-2025, “In our opinion, incentive measures for the replacement of obsolete machines and the digitization of production facilities should be structured so as to accompany Italian production companies – mostly family-run SMEs. ‘s and therefore with limited willingness to invest – in a process of continuous updating “, says Colombo.” The proof of the benefit of this operation is demonstrated by the results of the study on the Machine Tool Park installed in Italian engineering companies, conducted by UCIMU and presented last spring, which shows that not only the number of acquired machines has grown. , but that the digitization rate in factories has also increased, measured by the presence of CNC machines “.
In particular – Colombo concludes – “in the period 2015-2019, which coincided with the plans for the transition 4.0, 60,000 new machines entered the Italian factories, 50% more than the machines acquired in the previous five-year period, where there were fewer Furthermore, in the last study, 60% of the new machines were equipped with CNC, against 37% in the previous study (2014) ”.
Regarding the tax deduction for education 4.0, also unconfirmed and therefore only valid until 31.12.2022, the association requests an extension. “Never before has the importance of training and updating staff to work on the latest generation of machines and technologies, and in decidedly more complex contexts than before, become apparent to those working in business”.
Interview with Alfredo Mariotti