Special on ACE and off-road vehicles. It includes also the insert ICT_Industrial Cleaning Technologies.
It has only been two years since 2019, but it feels like we have experienced a time jump that nullified one of them. Yet, we have lived through both 2020 and 2021, albeit for most of the time without certainties and above all without making plans and with only limited visibility of the future, including the immediate future. In the same period, the digital world has colonised large portions of our private and professional lives, becoming something pervasive, which we perceive as an important advance, but also as something inescapable.
Such lack of planning, together with the fluctuation of raw material prices, the demand for just-in-time rather than just-in-case production, the crisis in maritime transport with the shortage of containers and skyrocketing container prices, and the spread of Industry 4.0, is reinforcing a trend that had already emerged before the pandemic: that of re-shoring, i.e. the return to local manufacturing, in which companies enhance the value of their country (or continent) of origin by bringing back to it economic activities that had been transferred outside its borders.
The continuing pandemic and macroeconomic instability are changing the pattern of the global value chain. This is the opposite of delocalisation – going local instead of going global.
“According to experts at A.T. Kearney, one of the world’s leading consultancy firms, the digital revolution is fostering re-shoring. Companies that want to reach the highest technological levels do not need cheap labour specialising in single operations (essential elements of assembly lines), but they rather look for qualified and competent personnel. In short, Industry 4.0 is transforming the production models, defining new essential figures for companies, and calling for different places and ways than the past. Advanced countries that have retained a large manufacturing base, such as America, Japan, Germany, and Italy, will be faced with great opportunities, if they are able to seize them. It is about bringing back the highest value-added productions, focusing on quality and not quantity, while continuing to work for the whole world.”
This editor’s letter, which is too brief to go into such vast topics destined to affect the whole world’s economy, is only intended to provide some food for thought and a key to interpreting some of the reports and articles you will find in this year-end issue, traditionally one of the most important and rich in content.
2022 is fast approaching. It is impossible to make predictions, because there are still too many elements in play to determine what it will be like in terms of economy and if the positive parameters recorded since the beginning of the summer will be confirmed.
However, I believe that one thing is for sure: we should not lose the optimism and resilience that have brought us this far.
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 From an article by Stefano Cingolati, a professional journalist specialising in foreign policy and economics, in Il Foglio, 17-18 April 2021 (my translation).