After an out of control 2022, new challenges and opportunities for the foundry market
There is a definition for 2022 shared both by those who judge it positively and by those who prefer to archive it as a disastrous memory. And that is that it has been a year out of control. Moreover, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the energy crisis and that of raw materials, with the consequent volatility of prices, the fear of having to interrupt production due to lack of gas, the sudden increase in interest rates and the inflation are all events that paint the past year as a nightmare.
However, the overall results obtained in the foundry sector and, even more, the acknowledgment that the system has managed to hold up despite everything, lead to a final interpretation, at least in the short term, which is anything but negative.
Opportunities for foundry products
The economic data processed by the Assofond Study Center relating to last year tell us - while waiting for what the financial statements will certify in terms of margins - that Italian foundries have managed to effectively deal with the emergency. The work of the associations representing the energy-intensive sectors has been successful, guaranteeing listening and understanding on the part of the institutions and public opinion. This commitment led to concrete emergency measures, which supported the productive forces and which allowed us to contain the damage.
The market did the same, thanks to demand that remained strong throughout the year despite the necessary upward adjustment in price lists, which was inevitable in order not to find oneself working at a loss.
Six months after the end of this crazy 2022, however, we still cannot say we are out of the tunnel. Neither uncertainty nor absurdity. We find ourselves, in fact, in a chronically unstable global geopolitical equilibrium, for which companies must get used to operating in a context characterized by strong volatility and countless risks.
Moreover, even giving in to the illusion that energy costs have perhaps taken the path of normalisation, we still find ourselves at levels significantly higher than those of two years ago, also considering that, in Italy, we continue to pay a significant difference with respect to the prices they are seen in Germany, France, Spain. We are therefore not in an easy phase to manage even from this point of view, given that we are also moving towards the phase out of the emergency measures we obtained last year.
However, the uncertainty of the general scenario and the complexity of reading the present must not affect us negatively. The beginning of 2023, as certified by the latest Assofond quarterly survey, was positive, even if today we notice a drop in volumes.
The attention to the contingent dynamics, dutiful and fundamental, must not however lead us to neglect the long-term vision which, today more than ever, passes through the challenge of the ecological transition.
The Italian foundry is already at the forefront in terms of decarbonisation of its production process, and the sector's environmental investments which, as shown by the latest Assofond Sustainability Report, are on average close to 20% of the total, are continuing at a great pace. Moreover, we know that our products are and will remain fundamental to achieving the sustainability objectives set by Europe, because without them there cannot be wind turbines, hydroelectric power plants, increasingly lighter and low-emission vehicles, and the list it could continue for a long time.
If on the one hand, therefore, we need not fear this trend which could open up new market frontiers, on the other it is necessary that the so-called "hard to abbot" sectors such as that of foundries can benefit from community protection from unfair competition from countries outside Europe (in which companies can operate on sustainability standards that are much less stringent than ours), as well as investment support and the removal of authorization obstacles to develop renewable energy projects which, too often, make an already already bumpy path even more bumpy. complex self.
Source: In Fonderia – ll magazine dell’industria fusoria italiana