The world of measuring instruments begins the new year with a positive outlook, from the growth of exports and business related to high oil prices, to EU investments in digitisation, ecological transition and social inclusion
2021 was a very positive year for the measurement instrumentation sector, in all its forms, from the process industry to factory automation and laboratories.
The growth of the instrumentation sector, estimated at around +10% compared to 2020, was higher than that of the national GDP recording +6.3% (source: Istat) and was driven by some economic macro-trends offering a positive outlook for the year which has just begun. Let us look at some of them.
Export is supported by durable goods such as machinery and equipment
Italy is a country with a strong international commitment. According to the Export 2021 report by the Research Office of SACE (a state-controlled company supporting Italian companies’ exports), the growth of exports in 2021 will be 11.3% compared to 2020. A large part of this increase is due to durable goods such as machinery and plants, an area in which measuring instruments are widely used. Exports are expected to grow by around 5.4% in 2022, before settling at a level of +4% in the coming years, a higher figure compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels.
The rise in oil prices provides a driving force for the supply chain
The economic recovery in 2021 also brought the price of oil back up to a level which prompted oil companies to resume investments, an activity which had come to a standstill in 2020. On one hand, higher oil prices imply higher fuel and gas prices, with a considerable impact on household costs and rising inflation. But from the standpoint of the automation and instrumentation sector, this increase translates into new projects, and thus a boost to the business of the entire supply chain: engineering companies, piping manufacturers, OEMs, skid builders, instrumentation and valve manufacturers. All this has a positive impact on the market by generating new jobs, employment growth and increased safety.
Investments in research and equipment for the pharmaceutical sector
The pandemic has shown the importance of the pharmaceutical industry for health and economic recovery. The sector in Italy is of fundamental importance for the domestic economy and for exports. This country is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical centres, and with 34.3 billion of production value in 2020, it contributes substantially, together with France and Germany, to the development of the EU. The pharmaceutical sector was one of the few to grow in 2020, consolidating its growth in 2021. It will continue to evolve in the years to come thanks to investments in research and new production plants.
Opportunities offered by the PNRR
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) is part of the EU’s program for the economic recovery of European countries after the crisis caused by the pandemic (a project known as the Next Generation EU or Recovery plan). Italy has been allocated 191.5 billion euro (70 billion in grants, 121 billion in loans) for the 2021-2026 period. The PNRR national plan has three investment guidelines, shared at European level: digitisation and innovation, ecological transition and social inclusion. The theme of ecological transition is the one with the greatest impact on the automation and instrumentation sector, as it will affect various industrial sectors, in particular: the reduction of emissions into the environment to contain global warming through the use of renewable energy sources with a low environmental impact, such as hydrogen; energy efficiency and the upgrading of buildings; the protection of the territory and water resources through the reduction of water losses, water recovery, and the control and monitoring of discharges into the sea and inland waters.
A new year to relaunch Italy
The PNRR represents an opportunity to relaunch Italy, which in recent years has experienced a slow decline from an economic and social standpoint, due to falling employment and increasing poverty. We hope that our country will be able to make the most of available resources through sustainable projects capable of bringing medium- to long-term benefits for the nation and, above all, for the new generations. As you can see, the economic prospects for the automation and instrumentation sector in 2022 are very interesting. It will be the task of G.I.S.I. to keep our member companies informed about the opportunities which will arise during this new year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy 2022.