The Italian machinery market

Q&A with Cinzia Schiatti, president of GIMAV, the Italian Association of Glass Processing Machinery and Accessory Suppliers

Glass Magazine: How has the market slowdown affected Italian machinery companies?

Cinzia Schiatti: The market slowdown has [focused] Italian machinery companies on optimizing their production cycle in order to reduce as much waste as possible. More and more, they are trying to improve their machinery to satisfy the demands of the big industry, automating the process. At the same time, they do not discriminate against the small glass processors, offering them semi-automatic or small automatic machines, keeping, in both cases, a high quality level.

GM: How have market conditions changed for Italian machinery companies since the Vitrum 2009 event? What do you expect market conditions to look like over the next year?

CZ: 2009 was a terrible year. We had a sudden and unexpected drop in sales after an excellent 2008. The worst period was the first half of the year; the second half was a little bit better and allowed the industry to close the year at -30 percent. Since that period, the market has improved and has [made up] part of that 30 percent loss.

It is, however, unstable, and we have an alternation of positive and negative periods. The first quarter of 2011 was good, but then it suddenly dropped down. For this reason, it is difficult to predict how it will be in the future. Still, there are some countries that have economic difficulties, like the United States, for example, and others that have a political situation that is not [conducive] to economic development. However, we must be optimistic and confident in a better and better market.

GM: What product, technology or market segment do you think offers machinery companies the biggest growth opportunity?

CZ: "Green" energy, in terms of energy saving and renewable sources. The world of glass―in all its components―is on the front lines. The glass machinery industry and suppliers of glass processing products and tools have been busy, for some time, supplying customers with solutions that are more efficient and [have] a lower environmental impact. Our customers are directly involved in the development of photovoltaic and solar panels [for example].