Technological scenarios, market forecasts and analysis, new products and expectations towards a key trade event such as Hannover Messe. In view of the German fair scheduled at the beginning of April, we gathered some of the companies that take part in the collective booth organized by ASSOFLUID and ASSIOT. Trying to understand their goals and probe how healthy Made in Italy in hydraulics is.
by Fabrizio Dalle Nogare
Sweden will be, as already widely anticipated, the partner country of the 2019 edition of Hannover Messe. Once again, however, Italy will be the country that, apart from Germany, will gather the largest number of exhibiting companies, about 450 out of 6,500.
Focusing on the IAMD (Integrated Automation, Motion & Drives) exhibition, more than 1,000 exhibitors are expected to attend, representing excellence in the production of those components and technologies often defined as “enabling” for “4.0” production systems, plants and machines.
Within the area devoted to the IAMD exhibition, ASSOFLUID and ASSIOT organize a collective booth (Hall 21, Stand J15) that brings together about fifteen member companies and represents an important showcase for the successful Made in Italy. Looking at their participation in the collective, we have involved some of these companies, making some questions about technology, market, expectations and next scenarios. Starting from the technological changes (in terms of materials, sensors, energy efficiency…) that have affected their daily activities and their engineering efforts compared to the last edition of the IAMD exhibition.
Sensors and controls
“The application of sensors for the fine control of motion and forces is one of the issues that the market asks us to address with increasing frequency”, says Matteo Conforti, Operation Manager at Conforti Oleodinamica. “We continue to study with our suppliers the most effective approaches to best meet the demands of our customers in terms of product range, technical support services, readiness of response and reduced delivery times”.
Daniele Giacomello, in charge of F.lli Giacomello, believes that the company focus should remain on what he considers to be the fundamental pillar for growth on the Italian and foreign markets: quality. “We have increased the workforce that deals with inbound and outbound controls as well as controls performed on 100% of finished products, flagship of our production. We pay special attention to updating the tools that we use for processing and assembly, especially those that we have made on our specific requests and needs”.
Confidence in R&D “As for sensors – says Manlio Colombo, CEO of Oleodinamica Geco – already at the previous edition of Hannover Messe we introduced the versions of our motors equipped with sensors for speed and direction of rotation control, ahead of time and, therefore, now the same systems have only been refined. Our company has always believed in R&D and is constantly researching and testing new materials or surface treatments that give the product greater performance or greater reliability and durability, or almost always an effective mixture of these elements”.
Mauro Cesana, in charge of Grices Hydraulic Cylinders, provides an interesting technological overview. “Surely a development direction to consider is the greater interconnection between cylinders and machines, from a functional, energy and diagnostic point of view. The increasing use of sensors installed directly on board the cylinders means that they can be integrated into the machines in a smart way, with consequent energy savings on customer applications, where Grices cylinders are mounted. Another aspect is the use of increasingly performing materials and constructions to allow the same force to be supplied with ever smaller components thanks to the increase in operating pressure. This makes it possible to reduce flow rates, generating a significant energy saving on the entire system”.
New products on display
Other companies are more focused on expanding the range and development of products. Starting with Tor-Mec. “Compared to the past editions of Hannover Messe in which we participated – explains Riccardo Padoan – we provide our customers with the new range of gear pumps, entirely designed and manufactured in Italy. In this way the company wants to cover the most diverse needs in applied hydraulics by making pumps that require coupling measures on specific customer request”.
Participating in a relevant fair such as the German one is of course the right event to launch some new products on the market, as confirmed by Giulio Corrada, Sales Manager at Elettrotec. “Like every edition, Elettrotec puts on display some new products: this year we will bring to light a new concept pressure switch, unique on the market for the moment, which can work with steam at 150°C continuously and can withstand peaks of high temperatures up to 200°C without changing the signal accuracy”. “The market always requires high-performance products – confirms Paolo Clerici, Sales Manager at Smart Protections -, especially with self-extinguishing features. In this edition of Hannover Messe we introduce, for example, a version of our classic textile protective sleeve in compliance with the
EN 45545 standard for railway applications”.
The market is not easy to work out
The development of new products and the search for cutting-edge technological solutions must then, of course, be tested on the market. While the latest data released by ASSOFLUID and ASSIOT seem to indicate a phase of sustained growth, the macroeconomic situation (not only in Italy) and the data on industrial production generate at least some concern. In such a context, are companies looking mainly at exports or are they aiming at the Italian market?
“In the last two years we have finally found good satisfaction from the domestic market as a result of a growth in consumption of our regular customers and for having won new market shares, but without ever losing sight of our main target, that is to expand on foreign markets, where we have had quite good shares for about 30 years”, says Manlio Colombo (Oleodinamica Geco), who considers the data released by ASSOFLUID encouraging and credible, although dichotomous with the current recession. “Our company is traditionally export-oriented”, says Paolo Clerici (Smart Protections). “About 60% of the turnover concerns sales both in Europe and in the other continents, especially those countries where the mining industry is most active or where machinery for this sector is produced. However, it is increasingly difficult to be competitive in these markets because of competition from Asian countries. On the sales side, although the first two months of the year are always the least challenging for us, our sales are quite regular, despite the news of recession circulating these days”.
Tor-Mec also looks abroad, where, as Mr Padoan confirms, “the quantity of parts in the catalogue requested are much higher than those on the domestic market”. On the other hand, the signs of uncertainty cannot be denied. “At the moment, although the working days are very intense, a sign of a growing market, with an analysis of the production situation required from both customers and suppliers, there is a strong sense of uncertainty that tends to block, or at least postpone, even our investments in the short term”.
Speed and ability to adapt
“The domestic market has certainly seen interesting growth rates in recent years”, explains Matteo Conforti (Conforti Oleodinamica). “However, our approach remains very careful to seize opportunities on foreign markets, both European and non-European, which for a long time have been a significant part of our sales. Both in terms of demand and technology, the outlook is changing very rapidly. Speed and ability to adapt will, as always, be decisive factors for success”.
Asia and the Middle East, without however neglecting important markets such as the EU area or North America, are primary destinations for Elettrotec products, as Giulio Corrada says, preaching “cautious optimism, knowing that the macroeconomic situation is not directly influenced by us, on the contrary. As per tradition, Elettrotec aims to be a partner as transversal as possible precisely because in economic situations like these the smallest niches of the market give the greatest satisfaction”.
“The Italian market has always been important for F.lli Giacomello – says Daniele Giacomello – but in recent years our quality and flexibility has brought us to the side of large foreign and global realities. Increasingly large groups operating in the hydraulic, naval, petrochemical industries are working with us because they believe that our products meet their expectations. This has led to a considerable increase in foreign turnover”.
Mauro Cesana (Grices) is even more precise. “Our data follow the national and international industrial structure. This is confirmed by the positive trend of the company which, in 2018, was positioned in the highest range of market growth recording a +22%. As far as exports are concerned, 70% of our production is devoted to Italy, while 30% is instead directly exported abroad, to over 30 countries. The situation in the sector is good, as confirmed by the data recorded by our company. On the other hand, the macroeconomic situation is worrying and this is also due to the uncertainties regarding industrial policy undertaken by the government. The Italian and European scenario reflects a strong pessimism that will easily lead to a total lack of confidence and instability”.
Let’s now talk about the expectations that these companies have in approaching Hannover Messe 2019, starting from Giulio Corrada (Elettrotec), convinced that “Hannover Messe is the main showcase on the world, organized in the main European market, a benchmark for all European manufacturers.
“Given that in the past editions new customers have been found in EU countries, our hope is to increase the share of turnover especially in countries outside Europe, where the search for Italian products, featured by excellent quality/price ratio, has always been quite high”, adds Mr Padoan (Tor-Mec). A hope also expressed by Paolo Clerici (Smart Protections), is that “ the 2019 edition will once again be the showcase on the world that has given us so much visibility in previous years”. Matteo Conforti (Conforti Oleodinamica) expects “to meet a wide audience of international visitors, of great competence, with whom to grow our business, develop strategies and new partnerships”.
For Manlio Colombo (Oleodinamica Geco), Hannover Messe is the international reference fair. “We expect from this edition to be able, as usual, to receive our customers already active within an environment that may technically satisfy their imagination and find new contacts in their first use as well as in international distribution to complement our current ones”. While recognizing the importance of the fair, Daniele Giacomello makes a significant distinction. “We must not forget that the market does not wait for a fair to evolve. The speed of exchanges and requests has increased exponentially. Efficiency in one’s work, passion in what one does must be daily and not limited to an event, however important it may be”.
“Hannover Messe is a fundamental showcase not only to introduce one’s company, but also to take a look at the latest market developments. On the one hand, the relationship with one’s own customers is consolidated, on the other, new international contacts are created, a company’s presence is affirmed and at there is the opportunity to meet representatives located around the world”, says in the end Mauro Cesana (Grices).