Numerous were the topics in agenda at the recent Stampi & Co. meeting that UCISAP, the Italian moulders and toolmakers association, staged in Pozzolengo, near Brescia; and as many as 180 were the participants. Most of the attention was focused on the harsh times that manufacturers are facing, given the rise in energy prices, on the one hand and, on the other, the shortage and rallies affecting the commodity market. In fact, president Cristina De Rosso, CEO at Dioma, pointed out that many companies are today forced to temporarily stop their activity due to gas and electricity fares, and urged national and European institutions for immediate support. The Italian industry is anyway well prepared to cope with working in complicate conditions and good news, brought by Bocconi professor Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, is that things could turn out a lot better than it may seem.
Skill shortage is the limit
Investments are restarting and moving from Asia to Western countries, and if one looks at Gross domestic product, then Italy is displaying an encouraging +3.3% rate, higher than the European average (+3.1%) and likely to be saluted, over the past decades, as a most satisfactory result. On top of that, Carnevale Maffè pointed out that gas prices are poised to drop and position on a much more reasonable late 2021-like level. The real issues are represented by the lack of competences, since the request for skilled workers appears largely unmet; and by the weakness of our policy on energy. Time’s up to restart the debate on new generation nuclear power and gas drilling in the Adriatic Sea: past decisions were short sighted and resulted in a 75% lower gas production rate, whereas, with different choices, and without kneeling in front of the NIMBY principles, it could have tripled.
Between geopolitics and digitalization
Professor, writer and columnist Giulio Sapelli entertained the audience with an overview on the development of international relations over the last decades, since the rise and fall of the USSR, that ended up in triggering the Russian-Ukrainian war last February (not to mention first clashes in 2014). Knowledge is undoubtedly one of the keys to interpretate and confront present challenges; innovation being the other one, as Marco Colombo, managing director at GF Machining Solutions, explained. Digitalization, as a method to optimise production processes in order to obtain the best solution possible, is the ultimate tool for moulders willing to enhance quality and preserve margins. Especially today, when the automotive market is not only slowing down significantly but also heading, pushed by such initiatives as Fit for 55, towards a massive electrification that requires suppliers to radically change their strategies, output, offer. This was one of the subjects covered by ANFIA vice president Marco Stella, who also noticed the 50% fall in Italian vehicle production over the last two decades, and the efforts that his association, representing component suppliers, is making to promote alternative green technologies such as synthetic fuel, hydrogen, plug-in hybrids. Furthermore, manufacturers are prompted to carefully look at the phenomenon of reshoring, portraited by professor Matteo Kalchshmidt, university of Bergamo, who depicted the many opportunities introduced by the ongoing return of delocalized activities from Asia to Europe.
by Roberto Carminati