EFESME's observations on the unpredictable, profound changes seen in 2020
The recent market situation, influenced in an unpredictable but undoubtedly profound way by the coronavirus and its consequences, has seen the exacerbation of some problems already present in the lift sector and the rise of new ones. However, the industry is reacting to overcome its problems, albeit with many difficulties due to the current second wave of contagion.
The sector has been recognized as fundamental. Therefore, its various production activities have almost never ceased altogether. Compared to other sectors, the damage has been, to a certain extent, contained. Nevertheless, since last March, with the first phase of the pandemic passing through the relative calm of the summer, until the time of this writing, with the second wave of contagion, the lift sector has been subject to a whole series of problems that have seen companies face very different difficulties.
As far as the new problems are concerned, most of them are circumstantial to the crisis: we are, therefore, talking about the disruptive impact of the lockdown on production chains in the sector and the consequent drastic slowdown in all production activities. These consequences on the workforce have included layoffs; isolations; and, unfortunately, deaths. There has also been obvious reduction in the number of orders and certain payment delays, which, in a normal situation, might not have occurred.
Regarding existing problems, exacerbated by the pandemic, we refer to the lack (or, more correctly, the danger) of seeing a drop in investment, both public and private. It is also a question of the difficulties in having available liquidity, both for investments and, more pressingly, to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses of companies.
Where the crisis' most circumstantial problems can and must be solved through specific policies put in place by the authorities to contain the pandemic and its disastrous effects, as far as the existing problems are concerned, investments and the availability of liquidity are also potential solutions to try to overcome the crisis correctly and even thrive in the future. The former, especially in R&D, remain fundamental, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, to survive, first, then prosper. The lift market is extremely innovative from this point of view, and the evolution of its products requires continuous innovative updating by all companies that are an active part of it. The availability of liquidity for these investments is equally crucial as a way out of the crisis: in this context, both private and public investments must be encouraged in every time horizon.
It can be said that the very nature of the lift sector, in its flexibility and originality, has the seed of recovery within itself. Recovery will not be easy, of course, but with cautious optimism and a mentality aimed at innovation and research, one can believe in a positive rebound of the sector toward better times.
Massimo Bezzi is president of EFESME, a board member of Elevator World, Inc. and the CEO of ICM Lift, an Italian elevator components manufacturer.