'How Covid affected Die & Mould industry and how we will adapt over it' was the topic of the webinar that, promoted by ISTMA World, took place on March 17, with the support of its Global Partner the Japanese company Makino. The invited speaker, Hidehiko Yamamoto, highlighted that the future of the sector "depends on the companies' ability to react".

With a virtual audience of fifty professionals from the industry, located in various parts of the globe (from Canada to Japan, France, Germany, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, United States, Italy, Switzerland and Portugal), Yamamoto drew a very pragmatic and complete picture of the reality of the mould sector, both during Covid-19 and in the following period when the impacts of the pandemic were (and still are) felt. In addition to this situation, which, he recalled, caused a huge downturn in the economy, the situation of war in Ukraine has now emerged. A problem that, he stressed, "affects not only Europe, but the world". And this, on his point of view, its "a changing world" for which companies have to be prepared.

Regarding the pandemic, he listed some effects that were faced: travel limitations, which made it impossible to visit customers; mandatory social distance; quarantine when arriving at a destination; the impact on supply chains with planes on the ground and other means of transport stopped; the failures in the delivery of raw materials and the reduction of orders. After, came the energy crisis and the increase in the prices of materials, which, he emphasized, "has now been aggravated by the war".

He recalled that, during the pandemic, there were companies that adapted and created innovative products, helping, on one hand, to increase security to the spread of the virus and, on the other hand, to develop their activity. But that was not enough and, he pointed out, the economy cooled down until the second quarter of 2021, with the exception of China, which started to recover at the end of 2020.

New models
With the pandemic slowing down, he considered that economy is now in a position to resume its rhythm. In terms of the future, "the automotive industry continues to be dominant", revealing data according to which this industry is expected to launch, between 2022 and 2025, around 60 new models per year. Many of them will be electric or hybrid, but a large part will continue to maintain conventional combustion systems.

In the midst of all this there are changes in the mould sector, with the acquisition or merger of companies. The small ones, Yamamoto considers, "will not disappear: they will remain as long as they are competitive, not because of the price, but because of the innovation in the service they provide". Because, "although mould companies are betting on providing a complete solution, on doing everything at home, they will not have that capacity and part of the work will always be outsourced to those who provide a good service".

This whole situation, from the pandemic to the war "has shown the risks of globalization" and, therefore, "companies are looking to reduce their dependence on the outside". One of the examples he pointed out was the case of the United States and the way the country changed its trade relationship with China.

He also remembered that companies have two major challenges ahead: on one hand, the lack of qualified labour and, on the other, sustainability, which, he emphasized, "has become a priority worldwide". Therefore, he believes that future "will bring great challenges" and it will be up to companies to "adapt and react, in order to remain competitive".

For Bob Williamson, ISTMA President, the interest of industry professionals, whose membership has been growing in each webinar, motivates the association to consider holding more events of this kind, during this year, with impact themes that lead to sector to reflect together.