FederUnacoma: a strategic plan for agromechanics

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The annual Think Tank of the Federation of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers was held in Serralunga d’Alba, in the heart of the Langhe area in Piedmont. Market data, scenario analyses and a focus on training needs were at the centre of the proceedings, during which the strategic role of EIMA International in relaunching the sector’s market was highlighted. The AFI Higher Education Academy, a new FederUnacoma project to strengthen skills within companies, was presented.

The Italian agricultural machinery market is marking time, waiting for the public incentive system to be unblocked and for purchases to restart. Exports are also down, due to the unfavourable economic situation and higher production costs affecting the final price of machinery. To relaunch the sector, therefore, the Italian manufacturers’ association FederUnacoma is intensifying its activities on the political, promotional and training fronts with a packed programme to be implemented by next autumn. This emerged from the Think Tank on ‘From business management to trade fair marketing: the winning skills for the agri-mechanical industry’, which the Federation organised on 28 March – at the conference centre of the Fontanafredda winery in Serralunga d’Alba in Piedmont – involving member companies and a panel of experts from the various disciplines. After the opening greeting by businessman Oscar Farinetti – owner of the host winery – the plenary session opened with a speech by FederUnacoma President Mariateresa Maschio, who provided updated data on the market (a generalised drop in tractors in the first two months of the year, with a 14% loss for the USA, 22% for India, 3% for France and 25% for Italy), emphasising how the Federation has a well-constructed intervention strategy precisely to react to the risk of a stagnation in the sector.

“The low profitability of agricultural enterprises does not facilitate investment in the purchase of new technologies,” said the President, “and this is why it is necessary to work with the government and the ministries to speed up the procedures for the incentives of the PNRR and the Innovation Fund, as well as to relaunch the tax credit for 4.0, and make the 5.0 transition, which is already being talked about, feasible.”

The proceedings continued with the speech by economic analyst Gabriele Pinosa, who outlined a market scenario highlighting the financial and geopolitical variables that are bound to influence trade flows throughout the year. “If the energy transition is a worsening element of the inflationary pressures already present at a global level,” Pinosa explained, “the presence of conflicts in different parts of the world (there are currently 30 in the various continents, eight of which are prioritised for geopolitical consequences) produces fragmentation and uncertainty in the markets.

The agricultural machinery sector must therefore defy an unfavourable economic situation – this emerged during the meeting – and be able to count on specific forms of incentive, but first of all it must be valorised with effective marketing and communication initiatives, leveraging high-calibre exhibition events. “It is primarily up to trade fairs to promote the agro-mechanical sector – said FederUnacoma Director General Simona Rapastella in her speech – by connecting the global demand for technology with the very wide range produced by the manufacturing industries.

” Speaking about EIMA International – the highlight event of agricultural mechanics, organised by FederUnacoma and staged at the Bologna exhibition centre from 6 to 10 November – Rapastella recalled the record numbers expected for this edition (about 1,800 exhibiting industries expected, official delegations from 80 countries, exhibition space fully committed to the 14 traditional product sectors and the 5 theme shows), focusing on the positioning of the event in the international exhibition context. “EIMA has established itself in the agricultural mechanics sector as one of the very few events that cannot be missed by operators,” said Rapastella, “because it has a strong international character, optimises commercial activities thanks to an increasingly efficient service system, and offers very high return-on-investment indexes for exhibiting companies, because it channels all the key marketing tools, from brand management to direct relations with sales personnel, into one place and at one time.

Marketing techniques, as well as business management, approach to foreign markets, regulatory compliance and communication today require constant updating and continuous training at every level. For this reason FederUnacoma has set up a specific structure, the AFI Academy of Advanced Training for Industry (which includes the Trade Fair Management School specialising in training for trade fair events) with the aim of responding to the need for new skills emerging within companies not only in agricultural mechanics but also in related industrial sectors.

“The imbalance between the professional skills currently present in companies and those that would instead be required – recalled AFI Director Girolamo Rossi – ‘is increasingly accentuated, and field surveys such as those carried out by Unioncamere show that in the current year 74% of Italian companies in industry and services expect to have to invest in upgrading their internal staff.”

The FederUnacoma Academy – it was explained – will have a wide range of courses and seminars, with a system of formal recognitions and partnerships also with Regions and Universities that will make it possible to certify the skills acquired. The AFI project – which will be fully operational from January 2025 – starts from an analysis of the actual needs of companies, and for this reason the Think Tank has scheduled discussion tables for member companies in the afternoon session, with the presence of representatives of the FederUnacoma structure and renowned experts:

Paolo Gay, of the University of Turin, for the round table on new technical profiles; Maurizio Forte, of the ICE Central Export Department, for the round table on foreign markets; David Jarach, of SDA Bocconi University, for the working group on marketing; and Debora Giannini of the Unioncamere Guglielmo Tagliacarne study centre, for the discussion on business management and organisational structures. Other focus groups will be held in the coming months – the Federation says – to fine-tune an increasingly timely and competitive training offer.