Making a post-coronavirus assessment of the woodworking machinery sector, AIMSAD Chairman Mustafa Erol said that his plans for the machinery sector are to be as local and national as possible.
Due to the Coronavirus, which affects the whole world, business life has stopped completely in some countries, in others, it is tried to be carried out with minimum human support, and the enterprises, where remote access is possible, implement the home working system with their employees.
After the announced cases and deaths, several measures quickly taken in Turkey. Making the assessment of the woodworking machinery sector regarding the new situation, AİMSAD Chairman Mustafa Erol stated that 2018 and 2019 were economically difficult years, and he continued his words as follows:
“Our industry and the entire machinery industry focused on 2020 for recovery. The sector started to recover as of the second half of 2019, and we observed an increase of 30 percent to 50 percent in January export data as we expected. Thanks to the government’s incentive mechanism and loans, the decrease in interest rates, and the export attack created by the furniture industry, there was a mobility in the market. The February data have not been released yet, but as far as I have heard from the market, the domestic market has continued to increase until a certain part of February. However, when the month of March arrives, we do not know what will happen since our partners Italy, Germany, Iran in exports and China in imports, are affected by Coronavirus a lot. ” Stating that the contracts will continue in the period of 3-5-6 months in trade, but they cannot predict whether new orders will be received when these contracts expire, Erol conveys that there may be a great decrease in imports because many countries close their borders one after another. Emphasising that all the countries of the world will have serious losses due to this new crisis, Mustafa Erol pointed out to the fact that European countries manufacture assembly- industry-oriented by collecting intermediate products from countries such as China. Erol conveys that there will be a bigger crisis in the manufacturers of countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and America.
”It will benefit local and national concept”
Emphasizing that he cannot make a healthy assessment of the second half of the year, since how long the effect of coronavirus will last is unknown, Erol continues his words as follows: ‘“As a machinery sector, we plan to be as local and national as possible. This situation will probably benefit us as follows: We will try to find local products for manufacturing. Every company is pushing it right now. I think this will benefit the concept of domestic and national. If the assembly industry halts in Europe, the demands may turn towards Turkey. It is not appropriate to talk on the basis of data since the landscape changes very rapidly day by day, we will see the developments at the end of the year.”
‘The most important thing now is to meet the demand of the market’
Pointing out that there is no panic in the sector, Erol stated that all AİMSAD members have taken necessary precautions both for workplace hygiene measures and remote working models. Emphasizing that even if there are serious decreases in the market, production will not stop, Erol mentioned that the importance that the supply chain should not collapse. Stating that if the machinery sector and the manufacturing sector stop, all sectors will stop, Erol continues as it follows: “I hope this situation would not happen. In my estimation, the most important thing right now is to meet the demand of the market. I think our machines are in the right category. We need to fill the gap left by China and Italy.”
Reminding that many fairs in the sector are postponed, Mustafa Erol added that if there is a recovery until October, the Woodtech Fair that they will hold in Istanbul in October will be much more important for the sector.
‘If there is no production, there is no growth’
Yesari Yerli, Vice President of AİMSAD and General Manager of Leitz Cutting Tools, stated that as the sector, they focus on 2020 and expect a global recovery with the second half of 2020, however, the situation has become uncertain with the coronavirus crisis. Emphasizing that according to the data announced so far, the effect of the virus only on world economy exchanges is a loss of 16 trillion dollars, Yerli continued as it follows: “This is an incredibly large number and we don’t know when it will end. The economical solution is the abundance of money. So far, about 6 trillion dollars of money has been injected into the market. This amount of money will cause other problems later. The most important problem is the decrease in production all over the world. While the average GDP is expected to be 2.9 in dollar terms for 2020 all over the world, it declined to -1 with new data. There will be no increase since even an increase of 2.9 meant no growth at all, and now coming to -1 is a much bigger problem. Of course, this will bring restrictions, it is not clear when it will end. The most important problem is the huge loss in production. It is not possible to grow if there is no production. ”
‘If we reach the level in Italy, our damage will be much greater’
Indicating that they carry on business with 36 countries as Leitz, the production stopped at their factories in China as of December 31, and that it was opened again 1 month ago, Yerli also stated that all work at their facilities in Italy and France has stopped.
Stating that the work can stop at any time in the factory in Germany, Yerli continues his words as follows: “While we are waiting for a much better result in 2020, we do not know what will happen at the moment. If we start to see our way clear, we will see how the ruin began to shape; but hopefully, it will stay where it has come so far, and it will not harm anyone. If our condition reaches the level in Italy, our loss will not be like Italy, it will be much greater. While Italy has the luxury to cover this loss, we do not. We were in very difficult economic conditions before the corona. Low GNP, current account deficit surplus, and income distribution imbalance were already our structural problems, unfortunately, it will be harder to close the gap when we hit by corona.’’
Mentioning that the woodworking machinery sector is very vulnerable, Yerli stated that there are no companies in the sector that have a strong cultural infrastructure and a strong economic background. Emphasizing that following the chain of rules is more individual in the sector, Yerli conveyed that even if sector organizations such as AIMSAD try to raise the awareness of the society, they are still among the primary sectors that will be affected by this crisis.
‘Leave aside the plan B, we don’t even have the plan A’
Yerli continued his speech as follows: ”We saw that we had no preparation for this crisis. We have seen that there is no preparation in the world either. Leave aside the plan B, we don’t even have the plan A. We take action against earthquake, fire, and sabotage but we have not taken any precautions for the epidemic. We did not even think of it. Notably the World Health Organization, nobody in the world predicting such a situation has emerged. Our country managed the process successfully in this regard, and it will continue to do so.”
‘The main manner of work in our sector occurs directly with the machine, cannot be done remotely’
Stating that they have started to work from home with remote access as a company, Yerli emphasized that it is a short-term solution and is not in a position to replace the main job. He continued his words as follows:
“The main manner of work in our sector does not occur by working with the phone or the computer, but by working directly with the machine. If no people are working directly with the machine, the work is not done. Since the flights cancelled, we cannot send the technical team who will install the machines that are sent. We take our precautions as quickly as possible. We carry out disinfection studies in our workplaces. When our employees come to work in the morning, we control their situations. We measure body temperatures. As soon as we see the 37.5 degrees, we do not put that employee in the factory and immediately send him/her to the hospital to investigate the reason. We have done serious studies on refectory hygiene. We made the services closed. We removed the salad-bar application, which we had not foreseen before. We paid attention not to cause panic while taking these precautions. I hope that this period will pass. As things get better, a more open and busy commercial life will be waiting for us. ”
‘There is demand, but the process is uncertain’
Yelda Akıncı, member of AIMSAD and Beiesse Turkey Operations Director, pointed out that investments stopped first in crises.
Indicating that Turkey has managed the process efficiently on coronavirus, however, the number of cases has increased rapidly in the world, Akıncı continued her words as follows : ”2018 and 2019 were not easy years. Everyone was hopeful about 2020, including us, and we started the year well. As of the second half of 2019, a stir has started with the effect of the Woodtech Fair and we were proceeding. Actually, we still have demands nowadays, but I don’t know what the next process will show. Everyone takes precautions, slows the work down a bit and works from home. We could not predict such a thing. I don’t think anyone can foresee it. We have to wait and see. Maybe after that, the functioning of the world will be shaped differently, and we will take our actions accordingly.”
‘We can intervene in machine malfunctions remotely’
Stating that if it comes to quarantine in Turkey as well, they have already taken measures and that they have prepared the infrastructure which enables office workers to work from their homes, Akıncı underlined that their condition is sufficient to support their customers remotely. Indicating that they can solve 70-80 percent of machine malfunctions with remote support, Akıncı continues her words as follows:
‘’In case we face difficulty, we are able to solve the malfunction by guiding with the company’s own maintenance team. We can help customers by sharing the data. Although our main factory in Italy is in quarantine currently, production continues in a controlled manner. Office all office workers work from home. Machine loads are being made and spare parts are sent. The only problem is that the process runs a little slow. Because transportation companies send their drivers abroad to get the machines, each driver who returns to Turkey remains in quarantine for 14 days and this situation delays the process. For instance, currently, there are prepared machines, but shipments arrive there with the delay from the specified dates. There is no problem with the spare part. We can also purchase spare parts with a delay of 2-3 days. Our organizations, fairs, has been cancelled. Investments will also stop if the cases increase. All sectors will be negatively affected. We cannot see our way either. We’re standing by.