The CeMAT AUSTRALIA Team were lucky to interview FEM’s Secretary General, Oliver Janin to talk about the current state of play of the European materials handling industry.
Olivier gave us a glimpse into the European materials handling industry and how the EU can both support and obstruct companies in the region. You can view the video here or read the transcript below.
Janin: My name is Olivier Janin, I’m am the Secretary General of FEM, the European Materials Handing Federation, and I’m here because FEM is a partner of CeMAT and as result we come here to explain what is happening in the European materials handling world and to show our support to CeMAT
Question: How has the European materials handling industry changed over the last 5 years?
Janin: Over the last 5 years there has been quite a few changes in the European materials handling industry. I think from a technology point of view things have changed quite a bit, we’ve seen more and more digitalisation, more and more automation, and that’s changed the services that manufacturers are able to offer their customers. And at the same time one change we’ve seem in FEM is where the markets are. Originally a large part of the production value was in Europe, or sold to Europe, and now what we’ve seen over the years is that there is larger and larger share of exports in the materials handling industry in Europe. And of course this has an impact as this means that more and more manufacturers go outside to get revenues basically.
Question: What are the current trends in the European materials handling industry?
Janin: First and foremost technologically where we can see big changes, there’s been a widening of the offer that is due to the fact that now manufacturers are selling less and less products, but more packages of products that go together with services.
With Industrie 4.0 manufactures are able to stay linked to their equipment and see how it operates as users, and this is creating a lot of data that is useful for the users because that enables them to get more efficient. It’s also good for the manufacturers as they are again able to offer wider services so they can benefit from the knowledge they get from their own equipment in use, improve their R&D and make it more targeted. And I think that’s definitely the most significant change we’ve seen in the recent past and it will drive the development of the industry in the next years.
Question: How is the European Union supporting the European materials handling industry?
Janin: One of the main roles of FEM is to keep an eye out of what is coming out of the European Union in terms of technical legislation, and there we are able to judge whether we have a supporting European Union or whether we can have an obstructive European Union. Because of course in regulation usually manufacturers do not like regulation very much and we need to see what is happening in that field. If I can link this with what I was saying earlier about a larger share of exports in the materials handling industry value in Europe, one important impact that is has is that we don’t want the regulations in the EU to monopolise too much R&D of our manufacturers because that makes them less competitive with their non-European competitors. And what we have witnessed in recent years is that the European Union can sometimes without realising it be an obstacle to the competiveness of our European manufacturers abroad, because they spend too much of their R&D at the end of the day what was the original requirements.
On the other hand we also see that the European Union tries to be supporting in particular in the context of Industrie 4.0 where there are loads of issues that are popping up in terms of data usage, cyber security and data security and so on. So here we see a much more progressive and supporting trend in the EU which is definitely aiming at putting it’s companies in the best possible conditions to be able to compete at a worldwide level.
Question: How will Brexxit impact the European materials handling industry?
Janin: How will Brexxit impact the European materials handling industry? We hope not too much. To be honest the feeling among the companies in general is that the EU and the UK are stronger together than apart, and as a result people regret a bit what the situation is now. Yet at the same time we need to accept the decision that was taken by the majority of British voters and I think really what companies want is certainty. And certainly what makes them feel a big uneasy now is not knowing what the future holds. We don’t know when the process will start, we don’t know what kind of new relationship the EU and the UK will have, so certinaly we hope it’s not going to change too much and we hope that it will not result in reinstating barriers that of course disappeared with a single market. And that on the contrary relationship that will be found whatever it is will maintain that seamless trade between the EU and the UK. The UK is an important trade partner and we hope they remain as such.