The history of rotary transfer machines is undoubtedly rooted in the province of Brescia, Italy. Until the late 90s and early 2000s, there were producers scattered in Europe and America but during last 10-15 years, the province of Brescia has had a quasi-monopoly in this sector.
A new element is added to the world panorama, The Chinese Rotary Transfer Producers. Numbers and speed of growth cannot be left to chance, they must be taken into consideration, even more at this time when the markets are in serious difficulty and will undergo probable and unpredictable changes.
With the growth of China, intermediate markets have also grown, the production of Chinese machine tools is rapidly advancing in technology and this will erode market share for Europeans and Americans.
From the development, which began in the 1950s, of machines that were projected to the production efficiency of very few and inflexible products, until today where manufacturers continue in the frantic search to increase CTE performance, the sector has seen very few newcos grow, in practice It is a sector in the hands of a handful of families who have handed down the business for 60 years and more.
(C – cycle time and production reliability T – system tolerances and reliability E – efficiency)
Maintaining these 3 factors at very high values requires a continuous and proportional increase in research and development, a function now performed by highly specialized figures with highly sophisticated tools. All accompanied by the relatively high costs.
Today the Transfer machines are complex systems that are no longer manageable by specialized workers, the operators of modern machines are technicians with specific skills and need a long training before being able to operate independently.
In practice, technological progress has led modern machines to have high production efficiencies but with equally high investments and risks. There are sectors, still well anchored in the European industrial fabric, which requires and maintain production of pieces with high volumes and low-level technical requests (non-critical tolerances).
A consideration made on the average life of these machines and systems, it is not uncommon for 35-40 years before a dignified “end of life” ceremony, a ceremony that often results in a remake of the essential parts and with a good hand of paint return to being and again productive.
At what cost?
To satisfy the needs of the market with “entry-level” machines or for the production of fittings or taps, there are two alternatives, The market for “used” or “reconditioned” machines, however, with limits due to the little flexibility that the machines of the 70s had -80 and 90, so it is not easy to have machines suitable for the needs, or new machines built to order; at current costs, a typical machine for new taps requires an investment that exceeds 450,000 / 500,000 euros for hydraulic machines without many frills.
Staying in this market segment there are few alternatives, or refurbished machines if new entry-level machines are found.
To date, the market has left no room for other operators who would like to enter to compete on a very demanding and well-served terrain in terms of assistance and technical support.
What prevents the use of Made in China machines with technologies acquired from Italy, with the certifications necessary for the standards in use, with assistance in Italy from the parent company?
In ten years, Chinese manufacturers have gone from not having industries dedicated to this sector to today with a national production of about 400 machines per year. It is inevitable that the advancement process of technology applied to Chinese machines will not stop, how will the markets of the old continent and the US react?
What if the Chinese came to sell new machines made to order delivered in 5-6 months at a third of the cost of Italian entry-level machines?
It is not a utopian perspective, especially in view of a general descaling that is expected in the near future.