National focus MECSPE Observatory: Exports remain a driving factor for SMEs and 8 out of 10 manufacturing companies in Italy believe in their own digital transformation

  • Increasing numbers for MECSPE, the most important Italian exhibition for the manufacturing industry: 2,306 Exhibitors (including more than 200 German companies); 135,000 sqm Exhibiting Area, 12 Thematic Shows and 56,498 Professional Participants.
  • Italy II Observatory 2018 presented on the MECSPE open day: the focus in 2019 will aim at new enabling technologies.

Press release MECSPE, by Sabrina Arcagni, International Exibhition Project Manager at Senaf srl

Milan, July 2019 – Technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality are opening up new scenarios, which might change the future way of work, envisaging thereby the emergence of mixed work teams, composed of men and smart technologies. This is the opinion of 43% of Italian manufacturing SMEs, that have already adopted or intend to introduce, by 2019, innovative technologies/processes including IT security, cloud computing, collaborative robotics and the internet of things.

That is the national analysis presented by Senaf at the opening of the 18th edition of MECSPE, the reference fair for the 4.0 manufacturing sector, held from 28th to 30th March 2019 at Fiere di Parma (2,306 Exhibitors with more than 200 German companies; 135,000 sqm Exhibiting Area, 12 Thematic Shows and 56,498 Professional Participants). According to the last MECSPE Italian Observatory, related to the second half of 2018, 8 companies out of 10 believe in their own digital transformation occurred in recent years and almost all (over 9 out of 10) believe they have a medium-high level of knowledge with respect to the technological and digital opportunities on the market. The focus in 2019 will aim at new enabling technologies, continuing in the direction towards mainly IT safety (74%), connectivity (60%), cloud computing (33%) and collaborative robotics (28%) that have already been introduced, and at research and innovation: 61% will invest up to 10% of their turnover and 25% will dedicate between 10% and 20% thereof, while targeted advice (51%), knowledge transfer (42%), confrontation with competitor companies (39%), but also workshops (21%) and the tutorship of a university (15%) are considered as useful tools for the development process.


Company trend of Italian companies in the mechanical and subcontracting sector is currently overall satisfactory, in which 62% of entrepreneurs reports a very positive company trend. In the second half of 2018 compared to 2017, turnover recorded a 53% growth of companies, while 38% declared stability and only 9% a decrease. 75% of companies sees its order portfolio as “adequate” to its own levels of financial sustainability, in contrast with the remaining part according to which it is insufficient. As regards forecasts for 2019 and with reference to turnovers, 40% expect growth, 48% stability and 12% expects a decrease.

Exports remain a driving factor for SMEs and almost 7 out of 10 declare to export their products and services, with a variable incidence. 25% say they make less than 10% of their turnover abroad, 17% “from 10% to 25%”, 16% “from 26% to 45%”, 9% “from 46% to 70 %“ and 6% “over 70% “. Exports aim mainly at the countries in Central and Western Europe (78%), followed by Eastern Europe (27%), Asia (19%) and North America (18%). About 13% export to Russia, while 10% to South America and the Middle East, 5% to Oceania and Northern Africa which represent the other outlet markets. No doubt about the future market on which the single companies will be operating: over the next 3 years, 12% expect a contraction of the scenario in which it is operating, in contrast with 40% which is openly convinced of the development of its own reference market and 48% believe there will be no big changes compared to the current trend. Instead, the cases of staff growth are increasing by 52%, 43% are stable, while 32% expects to expand its workforce in 2019 with respect to 64% that declares it will not change.

Today’s sustainability has taken on a strategic role in corporate decisions: 34% declare they have increased their commitment in this direction over the last few years, 32% is aware of the importance and intend to look after this aspect in the future. 15% considers it a strategic competitive factor to distinguish themselves on the market, above all in foreign relations, and they also undertake to communicate it, but the percentage of those who believe it is a marginal factor is considerably high and go no further than doing what is required by law (19%). With a view to full attention and sustainability, the ranking of the investments, mostly aimed at, sees in the first place the reduction of consumption (61%), attention to pollution and environmental impact (57%), attention to ethics in the relationship with suppliers and customers (47%). This is followed by the focus on employees (CSR projects) (36%), support for local economy (23%), eco-sustainability of products (21%) and at the bottom joining charity/charity projects (12%).

However, if we think about the relationship with the customer and the aspects on which they are most sensitive, according to the companies, the priority (41%) is given to the environment over ethics, which constitutes only 17% according to the entrepreneurs. 18% think that both factors affect purchasing decisions, while 25% believe that customers are not sensitive to any aspect of sustainability in what they buy.

Also MECSPE, in collaboration with Tecniche Nuove, has awarded sustainable companies, through the creation of the path “I do more”, which highlights the companies that stand out for their green and eco-friendly attitude.

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