DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - A devalued lira and better after-sale service have helped Italy boost exports, causing concern in Germany, its main European competitor, according to officials from both countries gathered at K'95 in Dusseldorf. Italian exports of machinery and molds for the plastics and rubber industries should grow by 12 percent this year, to $1.86 billion, up from $1.66 million in 1994, according to the industry's trade association, Assocomaplast. Machinery demand within Italy also is strong.
The Italian government's lira devaluations within the past several years had an immediate impact in Europe, especially Germany, where the lira plunged against the ever-solid German mark, officials said. That made Italian machines cheaper by 30-40 percent in Germany, said Bernd Knorr, director of the Rubber and Plastics Processing Machinery Division of VDMA, the German trade association for factory equipment.
Shipments to Germany - Italy's top export market, accounting for 12 percent of exports - grew after the devaluation, said Mario Maggiani, marketing manager of Assocomaplast.
``You can be a better competitor if the machines cost less than the German ones,'' he said.
Still, the largest Italian injection press maker, Sandretto Industrie Srl of Turin, has chosen to target France, England and Spain - not Germany.
``We know Germany is important in the market, but we are trying a different strategy,'' said Philippe Rupp, an official in the firm's Commercial Department. ``We are trying to diversify.''
Italy has enjoyed surging exports to the United States, which accounts for 10 percent of Italian plastics machinery exports. According to Assocomaplast figures, exports of injection molding machines and presses to the United States grew by 50 percent from January through May of 1995 compared with the same period of 1994. Exports to all countries grew by 11 percent in those five months.
Giving exchange-rate economics all the credit is too shallow, said Francesco Valsecchi, who heads the England office of MIR SpA.
``The exchange has been a factor of the booming Italian machine sales, but certainly it has not been the only one,'' Valsecchi said.
The European recession forced larger Italian makers ``to shake a bit and revise what they were doing,'' he said. Many are now ISO certified.
The Italians showed off new technology at K'95:
MIR, of Brescia, Italy, showed a 1,212-ton machine in its Ecologica line of toggle presses. In North America, MIR is represented by MIR USA Corp. of Leominster, Mass.
andretto showed its Mach series of high-speed packaging machines, with wider tie bar spacing. Clamping forces range from 60-410 tons. Sandretto moved its U.S. office from Cedarville, N.J., to Middleburg Heights, Ohio. (See story on this page).
Milan, Italy-based Negri Bossi SpA showed its new NB 800 machine, the first in a new series of toggle presses with clamping forces of 605-1,485 tons. Negri Bossi is owned by John Brown Machinery Trafalgar House Inc. of England.