BIEMH seems to be quite successful this year. Can you highlight the success factors of the show?
In my opinion, there are several factors that explain the success of the BIEMH. In the first place, I would highlight the strenght of the Spanish advanced manufacturing and machine tools sector with a powerful presence in the Basque Country - Spain is the 9th largest producer and exporter in the world. Our manufacturers came to the fair with an avant-garde offer that includes solutions, machines, systems and equipment of last generation, which will allow the most advanced sectors of the economy to improve their competitiveness. BIEMH showcased around 3,000 products, 1,200 machines and 300 novelty solutions in operation, in an unprecedented technological window display.
Second, we are in a favourable economic situation: the best data of the Spanish market of recent years and abroad, the European market has had a great performance in 2017. Not only Germany, our main destination, which has grown by 20% compared to 2016, but also Italy, France, Portugal, the UK and Poland. China has maintained its second position in the world ranking although the figure drops by 7.7% compared to 2016. It also highlights the good performance of both Mexico and the USA and Canada, which have grown almost 15%. After a good year, India has also regained positions. In addition, Brazil and Russia have slightly improved their figures but are still far from recovering the levels they achieved in 2013 or 2014.
In third place, Bilbao and specifically the BEC site offer the best conditions for a fair of these characteristics since it is an adhoc-designed venue for the exhibition of capital goods, as reflected in the 42,000 visitors it has received during its celebration. The offer of this edition has been more complete than ever, since it has included a fair dedicated to digital manufacturing, ADDIT3D, a space for digitisation, BEDIGITAL, as well as an industrial employment fair, WORKinn.
What is your outlook on the performance of the Spanish manufacturing industry?
Production in the advanced manufacturing and machine tool sector increased by 12.96% in 2017 (year-end data), exceeding the growth forecasts and reaching a record for the sector with 1,690 million euros. The boost in turnover is largely the result of growth (+47.76%) in the metal forming sub-sector, which in 2017 managed to complete most of the order backlog accumulated since 2016, with a 56% growth in the number of orders. The metal cutting sub-sector also grew, but much more moderately, with a 4.71% growth during 2017, starting the year with irregular results and finally achieving sustained growth. Other sub-sectors have also remained in positive figures, with the parts sub-sector growing by 4.54% and the cutting tool sub-sector by 6.53%.
The forecasts for 2018 show a stable scenario, in which we expect the turnover of the sector to maintain the levels of 2017. Although the high turnover level of 2017 has reduced the order backlogs, the good figures for the new orders during the first months of this year, lead us to think that achieving the 2017 figures during 2018 will be possible.
What are the future plans and initiative from AFM for the development of the Spanish manufacturing sector?
From AFM we are working on three major challenges in the sector: The first has to do with the adaptation of the offer to the needs of the clients and it goes through a greater flexibility and proximity with the client, a disposition to innovate continuously and an even greater reinforcement of the internationalisation of the companies.
The second is the digitisation of the industry. It opens a world of new opportunities - the connected machines, the knowledge of the manufacturing processes, the contribution of services that complement the sale of equipment, etc. New ways of delivering value to the customer are born.
The third challenge has to do with people, the main asset of a knowledge sector like ours. We need to continue adapting the profiles of our companies to a totally globalised competitive context which is immersed in a technological change plan for digitisation.