Exports Help Italian Construction Machinery Industry

Exports of Italian construction machinery were up 23% in 2011, helping the industry stay afloat during the European national debt crisis.

Exports once again saved Italian construction machinery, always held in very high regard abroad. Unacea (National Union of Construction Equipment & Attachments Companies), the association representing a significant number of Italian companies in this sector, suggests that the overall export volume in 2011 came to 2.26 billion euros with an increase of 23% compared to the previous year. This growth is also expected to continue in 2012, in the light of forecasts that analysts have developed for the European and international market.

CECE also confirms the positive mood among European entrepreneurs; 71% expect growth in turnover in the next six months. Absolutely similar conclusions were also posted by the Construction Europe Barometer, by specialist publishers Khl for Construction Europe magazine. In particular, encouraging results were seen for exports of earth moving machinery (+42% compared to 2010, equal to 982 million euros), tower cranes (+23%, 120 million euros), drilling machines (+20%, 501 millions), road building machines (13%, 126 millions) and concrete (+8%, equal to 315 millions).

Machinery for preparing inert materials went against the trend with a downturn of 9%. Overall, the value of exports in 2012 accordance to Unacea processing of Istat data grew to 2 billion 225 million euros.

Substantially similar figures were also developed by Ucomesa (Building, Road, Mining and Related Machinery Manufacturers Union) that, in particular, emphasises that a further increase in exports of around 9% for 2012 may be expected; it is calculated that exports on average represent 75% of company turnover.

The economy and the construction sector in particular therefore seem to have resumed a positive trend in Europe and worldwide after an absolutely negative two-year period. Exceptions are to be found in the markets of certain European countries - such as Greece, Spain and Italy - that last summer suffered from the Euro area national debt crisis.

In Italy in particular, Ance - the Italian Association of Construction Companies - estimates that investments in the sector in 2011 were reduced by 5.4% and envisages a further downturn of 3.8%. Between 2008 and 2012, the sector has lost 24.1% in terms of value. Cuts in the public works sector have had a dramatic impact, coming to 37.2% over the five-year period.

In this context, the financial statement on the domestic market is very negative: Anfia, the National Automotive Industry Association, calculates a fall in sales of quarry-site vehicles in 2011 equal to 15.2%. This setback is all the more striking when noting that in the same period the heavy vehicle segment (over 16 tons) grew by 12.8%.

Cantiermacchine, the association representing companies importing and distributing site machinery in Italy, indcates a fall in sales of around 21.5% (in 2011). The downturn especially concerns track-laying excavators above 6 tons, wheeled versions, wheel-loaders and wheeled skid-steer loaders. Mini excavators, wheeled mechanical shovels and tracked loaders were less heavily affected. Overall, Cantiermacchine highlights that the Italian market collapsed by 65% between 2007 and 2011. Unacea also emphasizes that the Italian market in 2011 saw sales of little more than 10,000 earth moving machines with a drop of 21.2% compared to the same period in 2010. The setback was even worse for road building machines (-43.6%), while machinery for concrete (truck mixers, concrete pumps, truck- and trolley-mounted pumps, plant, concrete sprayers) was down, albeit the last quarter of last year saw a slowing down in falls (about -7%).

Ucomesa says that the construction market in Italy is afflicted by a full scale recession that will presumably continue throughout 2012.

Once again, the road to be taken by Italian companies is that of exports, achieving leverage thanks to the renowned excellence of Italian technology in the sector. Such quality is known and appreciated by international clients but, if continued success is to be assured, it must be sustained even more by modern and efficient technical after-sales services. This is one aspect where improvements can still be made.