WORKSHOP EQUIPMENT: MOBILITY REVOLUTION AND GLOBAL PRESENCE, GREAT CHALLENGES FOR THE NEAR FUTURE
AICA’s 41st National Assembly
In a rather uncertain and ever changing International framework, the ability to seize the many opportunities created by new automotive technologies becomes paramount, especially for the garage equipment sector. Focusing on the international dimension of both the institutions and promotional activitiesI
Clear strategies to face the sector’s rapid changes.
It is no coincidence that AICA’s 41st National Assembly was held last December 5 in Bologna during the Motor Show, which led many companies to the exhibition ground that will soon host the next edition of Autopromotec, in May. Once again, the Association’s Assembly was rather rich in contents, directions and perspectives in view of the important challenges that the automotive equipment sector will have to face in the next few years. President Mauro Severian, after remembering the figure of Giorgio Cometti, founder of the Association who passed away just over a year ago, started his introductory speech urging all entrepreneurs to face with optimism the current uncertainties, both at institutional level as well as in terms of international economy, with the growing concerns created by the resurgence of protectionism, considering that much of the success of the sector lies in export. Encouraging signs, though, – continues Severi – come from the automotive market with a positive 2015 for the automotive industry and an equally positive 2016, driven by a steady rise in new registrations on the Italian market. Besides mere numbers, the market will soon be flooded by major technological challenges, a decisive factor for all the main actors in the supply chain: "all new vehicles, not just cars, but also industrial and even farming vehicles will be increasingly connected and computerized. Furthermore, a number of technological and market trends, will invariably change both the type of client and new garage equipment requirements" said the President. Not to mention new competitors: vehicle manufacturers are increasingly aware that sales margins are destined to drop, margins that must be regained through the aftermarket, placing service centres right in the centre of the picture. Moreover, as the Industry 4.0 framework is looming on the horizon we will see important alliances and mergers with some of the main actors in the hi-tech sector. A clear strategy is therefore needed, for the coming years, both as far as businesses are concerned as well as the role – increasingly important –played by the Association. Severi went on to highlight three main areas of intervention, the first is legislative: these changes will have to be regulated, and all the more so as one of the main obstacles to self-driving vehicles lies in the complexity of the legislative definition of this new type of vehicle. The second refers to the all important relations with the institutions, where efforts must be multiplied in pursuing effective strategies on behalf of the companies involved in the sector as well as complex topics such as the support and promotion of the "Made in Italy" around the world, not to mention protection against unfair competition. The third subject refers to promotional activities: a study is currently underway to investigate the needs of member companies in the field of globalization, while the joint work of AICA with the Emilia-Romagna region on promotional initiatives focuses on turning the spotlight on the supply chain. An additional proposal relates to giving greater impetus to the different working groups within the Association, in order to cooperate more and more closely with the institutions in the development of technical standards for the whole industry.
After the introductory report, the Treasurer Antonio Valli took the stand and produced last year’s financial report to the members present.
AICA’s European efforts essential
Massimo Brunamonti followed outlining the Association’s activities as far as automotive equipment is concerned, as well as regulatory developments and proposals and national and international partnerships. During 2016 a number of issues were dealt with, ranging from national authorities, associations and European institutions. A great deal of work has gone into a variety of working groups at Community level: starting with the revision of standard EN 1490:2013 on lifting equipment to be monitored by EGEA; another working group deals with the Standard CEN for roller brake tester safety for heavy vehicles; a new proposal to be outlined first at national level and than in Europe through a dedicated CE working group, relates to the safety of tire changers; still other crucial issues are being dealt by EGEA, such as the creation of a protocol for a communication network between different tools and equipment as well as the definition of a European standard for testing suspensions. At a national level, AICA continues to cooperate with the Ministry of transport (especially as far as the implementation of the 2014/45 directive) and with CUNA, which now sees AICA as a valued technical partner.
Autopromotec too keeps looking at overseas opportunities
Emanuele Vicentini, Brand manager of Autopromotec, co-owned by AICA, reported on the prospects for further international developments of the event. The results of the latest edition were flattering indeed, with 42% of all exhibitors coming from overseas markets with significant room for improvement, currently about 20% of the total, with a special focus on non-European exhibitors. International promotional events during 2016 included road-shows in Korea, Turkey and the United States during SEMA, while 2017 began with a launch event in Paris, and two more road-shows are planned before the fair in South America (Colombia, Peru and Chile), and in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Indonesia).
2016 was also the year of "Autopromotec Conference - State of the Industry 2016", a project which enabled to take the Autopromotec EDU project out of the fair and create an event that brings together all the major automotive companies giving much more visibility to the aftermarket industry, ushering in a new path that can lead all AICA members to grow through new relationships. Still with a view to an international growth of both the event and member companies, global synergies with other trade fairs around the world are currently being investigated.
Side by side with the Emilia Romagna Region to revamp the supply chain
A long standing partnership with the Emilia Romagna Region represents one of the most interesting promotion opportunities for companies in the automotive equipment industry as well as for Autopromotec, which is precisely the reason why Ruben Sacerdoti, the Regional Service Desk Manager for Globalization, also took part in the meeting and explained in detail the 2016-2020 strategy to support the Region’s enterprises, focusing on the strategic opportunities for the automotive sector. Future prospects, for AICA member companies, are represented by a dimensional shift thanks to the regional cluster project: which means joining forces with other players in the automotive industry who are not part of AICA in order to be stronger, more competitive and have a better chance to be heard by the institutions. Even at a national level, promotional activities on behalf of the automotive sector are based on international strategies, on unity of intent among manufacturers of vehicles, component and the whole aftermarket sector: if the system does not provide for such a united effort, effective promotion becomes much more difficult. Therefore, the Region is soon to launch a cluster building project designed to build a strong identity as well as shared strategies aimed at bringing, within the next three or four years, all automotive companies to work together in developing a series of instruments whose benefits will be both clear and ratable. Globalization, training, start-ups, innovation and research represent the playing field where the future of the sector will be played, the exact same assets on which the Regional promotional approach is based, with the aim of building an international strategic project able to promote, in a number of countries, a strong industrial identity. Focusing on the automotive equipment industry, Sacerdoti also stressed how Big Data represents one of the most important industrial opportunities: the production system must be able to read and attribute the right value to the large amount of data created by digital systems.