Industrial automation returns to pre-pandemic levels

by Renato Uggeri

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many user companies to reduce or even stop production, creating a significant loss in the Industrial, Process and Laboratory Instrumentation and Automation (SAIPL) sector, especially in the first four months of 2020. Nevertheless, the industrial instrumentation sector recorded a smaller drop over the year (-7.5%) than the national GDP (-8.9%). This is what can be read in the 2021 Observatory on the national SAIPL market trend recently published by G.I.S.I., which we discuss in the article on page 56. Many indicators confirm that the recovery has begun. According to the International Monetary Fund, world GDP is expected to grow by +6.0% by 2021, although slower in the EU area (+4.4%) and in Italy (+4.2%). This is an indicator supported by Confindustria (the Italian Industry Confederation), according to which the index of propensity to invest in industry rose to 55.1 in January, demonstrating a strengthening of the ongoing recovery: production started 2021 with a 1% increase, after a weak closing in 2020. Istat (the Italian Statistics Institute) data also indicate slight growth in the industrial sector, against a decline in services activities, which are still partly affected by the measures introduced during the health emergency. The majority of G.I.S.I. companies expect an overall recovery in orders for the current year of around +4-5%, albeit with different scenarios depending on the target market. During our informal survey, all the G.I.S.I. companies interviewed stated that they had concluded the first four months of 2021 positively, with an average growth of around 10% compared to the previous year. The SAIPL sector has therefore returned to the pre-pandemic period earlier than others, while advantages and incentives (such as the Industry 4.0 plan) have encouraged the improvement of production plants. At last we can look to the future with greater optimism.