Italian Textile Machinery – ACIMIT Conference confirms industry downturn

The world that awaits us in this post Covid-19 era was the dominant theme discussed at the conference of the trade association ACIMIT, held in Milan on October 6, 2020. “In the coming years, the climate of uncertainty we are experiencing will worsen, and health emergencies will combine with further geopolitical tensions which are already heavily affecting business,” stated ACIMIT president Alessandro Zucchi, as he submitted the final data for 2019 and the current year’s forecasts.

In 2019, Italy’s production output of textile machinery dropped by 11 % compared to 2018, while exports fell 12 %. The sharp decline in manufacturing activity in 2019 was common to both foreign and domestic markets in Italy. This widespread lessened demand in the main Asian and European markets has weighed heavily on machinery sales abroad, also affecting the United States and South America. A similar scenario was observed in Italy, where both imports of machinery of foreign origin and deliveries by Italian manufacturers decreased significantly.

This precarious economic situation, which in early 2020 hit Italy’s textile machinery industry – already affected by a weaker global demand – then suffered from the strong impact brought on by the pandemic. The repercussions are highlighted by a severe scaling back in orders for Italian producers, as monitored by our Association on a quarterly basis. The order index for the first six months of the year dropped 39 % compared to the same period for January to June 2019; a recessionary picture that remains confirmed for the whole of 2020, despite some timid signs of recovery in the third quarter. A recovery towards export levels resembling those of the period prior to Covid-19 can only be expected in 2021.

“Even after the restart following the lockdown,” said Zucchi, “objective difficulties remain in daily business operations, mainly related to foreign travel for our employees, given the limitations that remain on the free movement of people.”

The experience of recent months has brought to light the urgency of accelerating the digital transformation of businesses. ACIMIT, for its past, has continued to support its associates in this development process. It did so, in particular, by starting the digital certification project, which is being promoted in collaboration with Prof. Marco Taisch and his Manufacturing Group research team at the School of Management of Milan’s Polytechnic University. As Zucchi explains, “We’ve developed a conceptual model of machine and process production management data that can be useful to customers in identifying and calculating related production KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The data model will be one of the requirements for obtaining ACIMIT’s digital certification, which will attest to the ease of integration of textile machines at our manufacturing customers’ production sites.”

ACIMIT represents an industrial sector that comprises roughly 300 manufacturers (employing around 12000 people), which produce machinery for an overall worth of around EUR 2.3 billion, of which 82 % are exported. Creativity, sustainable technology, reliability and quality are the hallmarks that have made Italian textile machinery worldwide leaders.

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