With more than 80 billion in aggregate turnover at the end of 2019, the electrical engineering industry is one of the essential components of Italian manufacturing.
Numbers made possible by the work of more than 500.000 people, as confirmed by ANIE, which has been bringing together companies in the sector for more than 70 years. Companies that have made R&D the focus of their daily work, achieving notable successes inside and outside the domestic market.
Industrial automation systems, plant engineering, electrical components and more: the products are numerous and highly innovative.
What are the latest trends in the sector? What opportunities are there in foreign markets?
The industry figures: components, plants and more
To speak of the Italian electrical engineering industry is to speak of a broad and varied system: within the sector there are many different companies.
These range from manufacturers of industrial automation technologies to companies specialising in components for energy production plants, as well as electrical cables and conductors.
There is no shortage of excellence in any of these areas, which are successful on international markets. This is also proven by the most recent export figures, with manufacturing production in January-May 2021 exceeding the levels of the same period in 2019.
Specifically, an increase of 11.8% was recorded for electrical engineering: the most immediate sign of a market that is recovering and capable of achieving its objectives.
The ISTAT data analysed by the Economic Observatory of Foreign Affairs allow us to identify the most requested products on foreign markets: electric motors and transformers dominate the ranking (22% of exports in January 2021), equipment for distribution networks (12.7%), batteries and accumulators (3.6%).
Taking a closer look at the market, what are the prospects for the various sectors?
With revenues in excess of €5,076 million in 2019, automation systems have always been a key segment of the industry: with an overall turnover drop of 10.3%, companies in the sector have faced major difficulties. And even in 2021 the challenges are not lacking, as ANIE Automazione tells us.
First and foremost, the rising prices of the raw materials used, together with a lack of basic electronic components. A circumstance that is pushing many companies towards a review of their supply chain.
Electronic components in particular have also been going through a complex period, with production stoppages having an impact on the supply chain and its growth.
The production of lifts and escalators – among the most representative of the Italian electrical engineering industry – also saw a contraction in turnover, continuing with a negative trend that had already begun in 2019 (-0.8% of turnover compared to 2018).
This short list allows us to understand how the recent scenario has reserved lights and shadows for operators in the sector: however, there is no lack of opportunities to be seized. These include those offered by the international political and economic scenario, where environmental transition and digitalisation are increasingly topical issues.
A look at the future of electrical engineering: exports and innovation
The adoption of new production paradigms is now an imperative for global industry.
Proof of this is the increase in sustainable investments within the global financial market: more than 36% of assets under management, as revealed by the biennial survey of the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.
In this context, electrical engineering and its innovations could play an essential role, encouraging a radical transformation of manufacturing plants, automation systems, machinery and more.
Greater efficiency, lower resource consumption and higher quality are the starting points for a complex process, in which companies will have to prove themselves capable of developing new solutions with new partners and exploring as yet unknown markets.
The internationalisation of activities is therefore a fundamental step towards a full recovery in the coming months.
Alongside historical partners such as Germany, non-European destinations will be increasingly important, where economic development projects supported by local authorities can be translated into opportunities for Italian companies.
Which countries should be taken into consideration?
Some suggestions come from the Economic Observatory of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in South America identifies new opportunities in Colombia, especially for designers of turnkey solar and wind power plants.
In North Africa, Morocco remains an attractive destination in 2021, with a 2.2% growth in the market for Italian electrical appliances.
So there is no shortage of avenues to follow for increasingly solid growth, in the name of technology and increasingly advanced solutions.