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Portugal's mould makers show strength in tough times

João Faustino, the head of the country's national mould making association Cefamol, says he is confident shops will continue to excel, but problems are arising.

ETMM: What are some of the main opportunities for mould makers in Portugal?

Mr. João Faustino: Over the years, Portugal has developed a consistent strategy to consolidate its presence on the international market. Exporting more than 90% of production, the Portuguese moulds industry has stood out from international competition due to the range of high added-value competitive solutions it offers. Based on this experience, investment in state-of-the-art technology and corporate co-operation, the Portuguese mould industry has created and participated in partnerships and projects with clients, suppliers, universities and national and international knowledge centres. This has allowed the products and services of Portuguese companies to evolve in a qualitative manner, allowing them to find new and more competitive solutions for clients while achieving a position of reference on a European level. This emphasis on innovation and R&D and the recognition of the industry’s international image has created new opportunities for Portuguese companies, more specifically, in the reduced time to market for clients, in the development of new products, in the use of new materials and technologies that allow faster and more efficient solutions, and in broadening the industry’s chain of value, which brings new areas of business both up- and downstream of mould production. This has also allowed entry into new markets, both from geographical and sectoral perspectives, as is the case with the aerospace industry, energy and environmental products, and in new areas of more traditional sectors, such as automobiles, electronics or packaging.

ETMM: What are some of the specific difficulties facing the tool and mould industries in your country?

Faustino: Given the long production cycles which characterise the manufacture of moulds and long payment times from clients, companies are obliged to develop real financial engineering in order to remain active in the market and maintain up-to-date technology to deal with market requirements. This is the main difficulty that the Portuguese moulds industry faces today. The move by some Portuguese moulds industry clients to markets with lower production costs where they attempted to develop local suppliers initially led to a drop in the number of orders in areas such as electronics and housewares. This, in turn, produced considerable concentration in supply to the automobile industry, with all of the advantages and difficulties that such a dependency on one type of client causes for companies. More recently, we have seen some of the clients mentioned above return to Portugal, and have witnessed new orders for the Portuguese moulds industry. It should be pointed out that the current and permanent instability of markets is also a limiting factor for the development of companies in our industry. However, and despite all of these circumstances, it is good to see that exports increased 15% in 2011 versus figures for the previous year.

Sourced from etmm-online.com

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