Corona causes problems especially for international business
Despite a second lockdown and the associated restrictions, the VDMA Woodworking Machinery Association continues to see good opportunities for a revival in demand and has started 2021 with optimism. "We continue to anticipate a 3 percent increase in the current year," Markus Hüllmann, the new chairman of the woodworking machinery association, reiterated the production forecast in an online press conference this morning. "In view of the many problems once again caused by Corona, this is definitely ambitious." Hüllmann elaborated on the obstacles encountered in international business, particularly when it comes to the delivery of larger systems. "Where our employees cannot travel to the site for installation and commissioning, or can only do so under the strictest regulations, we try to use digital aids to enable operators to take their own measures. Sometimes this succeeds, but often it doesn't. If acceptance at the customer's site does not take place, revenues are then received with a long delay. Without highly flexible and committed employees, nothing works in such a situation," Hüllmann explained.
However, Hüllmann also sees a great opportunity in digitization and draws optimism from this for the entire industry: "The manufacturers of woodworking machines are leading in this area - in many areas we are ahead of the entire German mechanical engineering industry. We naturally want to maintain and further expand this technological lead. To do this, the service structures have to fit."
However, he also points to the changes brought about by digitization: "As an individual company, it is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, to develop innovations and push your own progress. The time of individual patents is running out. Instead, we have to strategically address working together. In other words, we need to push new things forward together with our market partners. One example where this is already the case is OPC UA, where we are even pulling together at the European level for the benefit of our customers.
Overall, Hüllmann sees the political environment for German and European manufacturers as positive, highlighting in particular the dismantling of trade barriers in the European Union. "We are well positioned, we all certainly still have to become a bit more international, but then we can look to the future with a good feeling."