BOLOGNA, Italy: There’s nothing quite like the harmonized hum of robotics, or the perpetual pounding of punching machines to let one know they’re at a metal production trade-show. Thankfully, those theatrics only add to an atmosphere only matched by exploring shop floors themselves. Only at this year’s Lamiera metal forming and production show, the environment’s a little cleaner, and maybe a touch quieter.
(For some Plant Magazine Lamiera 2012 show floor photos, click here)
The show, which happens every two years, is organized by Federmacchine’s UCIMU – SISTEMI PER PRODURRE, the association’s organization for machine tools, robots and automation.
The show, which spans more than 430,000 square feet, features the latest robotics, automation, metal forming and production technologies from 451 companies, 42% of which are from outside Italy. Companies with a Canadian presence such as Prima Power, Fien, and Salvagnini are all here. Attendance numbers are expected to top 25,000 visitors.
At an early morning press conference, UCIMU – SISTEMI PER PRODURRE’s vice-president, Luigi Galdabini discussed Italy’s metal forming and production industry, describing it’s importance to the country’s manufacturing presence on a global scale and how metal forming equipment and machinery has grown since the global economic crisis, which has been boosted by increased production and export volumes.
He also described how Italian firms have focused on the customization and personalization of equipment to differentiate themselves from competition in China and Japan.
“If you need anything formed, you can find it here,” he says. “China doesn’t know how to do it, neither does Japan. We have a different mentality. Toyota taught the world how to make things in big numbers. We are not that. We are SMEs. We are artists—we’re innovative and unique.”
Italy’s metal forming and production equipment and machinery industry enjoyed significant growth in 2011, rebounding from significant losses during the global economic crisis. In 2011, Italian production topped $2.7 billion, an 11.6% increase over 2010 according to UCIMU – SISTEMI PER PRODURRE. Exports topped $1.8 billion, up 26.6% from 2010.
The association says Italy is now third in international producers of metal machinery and equipment, behind only Germany and China. Germany, however, bought 52.7% of the $2.7 billion in Italian sales.
The Italian industry is also enjoying a $1.5 billion trade surplus, which highlights the importance of exports to the country’s economy.
Galdabini says the industry expects to top $6.2 billion in sales in 2012, a 13.5% increase over this 2011. He also expects exports to grow by 25%, reaching a value of more than $4.2 billion.
“Italians are champions of specialized machines,” says Galdabini. “We are showing what automation of the future looks like and how connectivity will continue to changes the ways machine shops operate.”
It’s obvious Galdabini is a big fan of Italy’s metal machinery and equipment industry. He’s also the president of a local manufacturer, Caesare Galdabini, which specializes in material testing instruments that analyze the mechanical properties of various materials and components. The company also produces precision straightening machines for shafts, profiles, rings and bars.
“Moving towards increasing flexibility is a must,” says Galdabini. “Enhancing productivity is still crucial, but we’re starting to move away from an emphasis on productivity to focus on personalization, customization and making sure we’re producing intelligent machines that are easy to maintain and easy to use.”