1. After a difficult year for all industrial sectors, how will the packaging machinery sector close the year?
What data would you highlight?
In general, in the packaging technology sector in 2020, companies have had a lot of work, especially those oriented to the food and pharmacy sector. For the packaging technology sector, 2020 is not going to be a bad year, but not a good year either, as we anticipated at the beginning of the pandemic. This is because companies in the sector had high growth expectations as it was INTERPACK's year, a fair that has been definitively postponed until 2023.
2.- The year 2020 has been the year of COVID-19 and rethinking, what have been the trends in the sector?
And what response are you getting to these trends?
I would highlight three important aspects that are taking place:
On the one hand, the acceleration of digitization: The demand at the moment takes into account the degree of digitization of companies and how they can give an effective response to the customer, either for the commissioning of a machine, or for assistance technique required by the client. That is why, if it was important before, now it has become a priority. Therefore, the main investment of companies is in digitization.
The proximity factor also gains weight, which is why companies with establishments abroad or consolidated distributors have an advantage over the rest.
Another important factor is immediacy and high production. The customer wants the machines for now, so some Spanish companies tell us that they have opted for the manufacture of large standard machines.
One of the key trends in the industry in recent years has been the big shift in consumer confidence in favor of environmentally friendly packaging solutions. While COVID-19 is unlikely to end this conviction in the long term, there may be some impact on the speed of change in the short term, as product safety, hygiene and integrity have come to the fore. during the current crisis.
Even so, the manufacturer of packaging technology is increasingly aware of the need to work towards the 3 R's: REDUCE, RECYCLE and REUSE.
Other important trends that are also taking place are the automation of processes and Industry 4.0, the adaptability of machines to changes in packaging formats, the evolution of e-commerce and product packaging, smart packaging, application of the ECO DESIGN concept in machines. Furthermore, energy efficiency is a growing factor in competitiveness.
3.- And foreign markets, how has purchasing demand behaved in the main export markets?
And what trends would you highlight?
The United States is the main destination country for Spanish teams in the sector. It has maintained a positive trend since 2016, the year since exports to this market have been increasing.
The exponential increase in exports to Russia stands out, little affected by the pandemic since in the first half of 2020 they have practically reached the import levels of 2019.
France, Poland and Italy maintain stable growth rates. We cannot say the same for Germany and Portugal and Algeria, which in 2019 have slowed down their import pace. Mexico maintains, as at the world level, a mild negative trend. The United Kingdom too, but in this case world imports followed the opposite direction.
The companies claim to have experienced very significant growth in sales in the last two months, October and November.
4.- The packaging machinery sector is, like the rest, imbued in the technological transformation, what investment capacity in this transformation has been maintained during 2020?
It is still too early to give figures, but we know that companies have continued to invest in technological transformation and, especially this year, in digitization, both to be able to commercialize, and to provide a good remote technical service to their clients in the face of the impossibility of travel due to mobility restrictions.
5.- What differentiating element can we find with respect to other industrial sectors in this regard?
The container and packaging sector is a technologically very advanced sector, made up of leading international companies, with direct competition from German and Italian companies, so they must be prepared for any challenge.
6.- Regarding human capital, this digital transformation is accompanied by new skills and new developments, what investment is the sector making.
Companies are dedicating real efforts to developing talent, and most companies are committed to training the staff they already have, both from courses outside the company, and highly personalized courses in company. amec accompanies companies in their main challenges, and has developed tailor-made training, either collective or in-company. amec is developing and applying the new Talent Plan with the main objective of making it easier for our members to search for, attract talent and develop more than they already have. We do it by connecting companies and potential candidates; through training; and helping the company to show itself with all its appeal. We also turn to the administrations so that they facilitate the industry access to talent.
7.- What are the sector's objectives for 2021 in the long and short term?
The main objective of the companies will be commercialization, and for this it hopes to be able to have adequate tools, be they traditional such as fairs, as well as new opportunities from online channels. At amec we have intensified actions so that companies maintain their international promotion activities while the fairs cannot be resumed through new proposals that also bring them closer to their potential customers.
To do this, amec member companies will be able to participate, in addition to national and international fairs, in virtual missions, online technical conferences, meetings with prescribers ... We also bring them closer to B2B marketplaces, a channel that will increase in the coming three years.
On the other hand, we are starting a new era, in which companies are transforming, facing digitization and new requirements. At amec, therefore, we attach great importance to foresight. Our community has access to important prospective information, thanks to the intense work carried out by the Amec Observatory. For example, we have recently published the Market Prospective Report 2021, which we have made interactive so that each company can find its markets of interest for the next year according to its sector and characteristics. In this change of era, which entails a great transformation, forward-looking information not only enables companies to adapt to the new environment, but also to advance to what may come. Collaboration between companies is also essential to face new challenges, which is why the amec community has for the first time a platform in which they share project proposals. Companies can request help or collaborations from other companies directly. These collaborative experiences have already been developed by numerous companies at amec and have made it possible to carry out projects that would be much more difficult to carry out alone. The transmission of knowledge between companies certainly avoids falling into errors and saves time and money.