Acimall: Another positive year for the Italian woodworking machinery technology

Xylexpo 2024 can possibly boost figures for the Italian woodworking machinery technology industry next year (Image: Acimall)

The Studies Office of Acimall has released the preliminary balance of 2023 for the Italian woodworking machinery industry, citing 3.5% growth of production compared to 2022.

In spite of the “less satisfactory” orders, according to Acimall, the companies had and still have a strong order backlog, allowing them to increase their revenues also in the year.

After the 5.3% increase achieved in 2022 over the record year 2021, this trend indicates the full health of the industry companies, who had the opportunity to invest and strengthen their position in Italy and, according to tradition, all over the world.

The value of production reached up to €2.74bn, net of inflation, but still is what is said to be an “all-time record” for the woodworking machinery industry in a period when all mechanical industry domains, machine tools above all, are experiencing the same situation.

Exports increased by 7% compared to 2022 to €1.935bn in value, while sales on the domestic market fell by 4% to €805m. This is reflected by the significant decrease in import, with a 7% decrease to €270m in value.

Acimall reported that the Italian market is going through a less positive period. The reduction of apparent consumption amounted to 4.3%, down to €1.075bn, showing the consistently strong demand of wood and furniture technology in Italy, which remains the fourth global market after China, the US and Germany, and before Vietnam at number five.

In terms of trade balance, the wood and wood-based material technology industry maintained a good performance of €1.665bn, 9.3% higher than in 2022.

After a booming performance in the previous two years, Acimall said it is expected for this year and the next to move back to more ‘normal’ figures.

“Such values can hardly be estimated today, due to the tragic international events we all know, that might have a heavy impact on the global economy,” said Acimall’s director, Dario Corbetta.

“Our industry is also subject to ups and downs, with positive periods alternating with less satisfactory ones. The news — so to say — is that the growth in the past years was so powerful to generate a peak, a strong discontinuity that will require a slow return to normal, hence the persistence of negative values over a long time, though with lower rates.

“However, there is a feeling that the industry is worrying excessively for what can be considered a natural slowdown. 2023 figures are showing this, and today, the companies are definitely much stronger in terms of financial capacity and organisation, compared to previous, much more difficult periods.

“As a result, they will be able to face a business reduction that we can call ‘normal’, though apparently magnified by the extraordinary results of the previous three years.”

Next year’s economy might be stimulated by measures included in the Industry 5.0 plan, within the framework of the national recovery and resilience plan that is approved by the European Commission as consistent with the “REPower EU” plan.

This plan aims at accelerating the transition of EU countries to clean power, and more generally, at the adoption of energy-saving measures.

The new facilitations introduced by Italian financial institutions fit into this context, supporting investments that meet the standards of connectivity and integration into the enterprise management networks envisaged by Industry 4.0, and ensuring less power-hungry operations in addition.

Xylexpo 2024, the biennial international exhibition of technology for the wood supply chain organised by Acimall to be held at Fiera Milano-Rho from 21-24 May, might also help potential customers and users leverage the innovation in terms of energy efficiency that will characterise the entire portfolio.

“For the 2024-2025 period, companies will have access to tax credits for a total value of €6.3bn, to be added to the benefits of ‘Industrial 4.0’, a plan created to support all measures for the energy efficiency of machines and plants,” added Corbetta.

“The shrinkage of recent months might have been driven by many companies which decided to wait for the full deployment of the new measure before making new investments.

“Saying that such measures are ‘appreciated’ is a clear understatement, despite their ‘elastic’ effect on demand. Longer-term policies that do not overlap year after year would certainly have more enduring and structural effects on demand trends.”