Manufacturing could play a key role in European growth
ETMM: How much has the euro crisis affected European manufacturing?
Kapp: Until recently, the manufacturing industries in Europe had been immune to the debt crisis in the Eurozone. Very high order intakes in Cecimo countries were the best evidence that there was confidence in the markets. However, the uncertainty around the Eurozone and mounting problems are effectively preventing many customers from making any investment decisions. Recently, the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for the growth of the world’s economy, primarily because of the situation in Europe. Consequently, the European manufacturers, who are often the world’s leaders, are suffering on the export markets as well.
ETMM: Tool, die and mould making businesses are often very small and highly reliant on credit. Money has tightened up drastically despite the efforts of politicians and central bankers. Do you see any chances for better access to credit in the near future?
Kapp: The feared credit crunch has in Germany, at least, failed to materialise. However, conditions for loans have become tougher. I do not believe this is going to change in the foreseeable future, because the banks are likewise subject to more stringent rules under Basel III. Companies have to adjust to this, and improve their transparency and communication in their dealings with the banks so as to spotlight their opportunities.
ETMM: What kind of new technologies can help tool and mould makers and other companies use to ensure that machining metal becomes more competitive?
Kapp: Our task is to support the customers of the metalworking sector in achieving success in their chosen fields. Against this contextual background, I believe the machine tool industry is very competitive. Its products are innovative and technologically unrivalled the whole world over. Important issues at present include new materials and alternative production processes, like generative modes. There is a particular focus, too, on measures for saving energy and upgrading efficiency levels. Thrusts for higher productivity, complete machining capabilities and process integration also contribute towards more sustainability. With a view to growth and technological developments in the Far Eastern growth markets of China, Taiwan, plus India as well, it is becoming progressively more obvious that technological leadership is crucial to success on the global market. The relatively simple machines are meanwhile available locally. And because competitors in the growth markets are not asleep, we have to work on the next generation of machine tools.