“The Government does not defend us as in Italy, despite being the engine of employment”

It represents one of the three legs that make up the tile cluster of Castellon. Together with tile and flooring manufacturers; and to those who are dedicated to the elaboration of enamels and frits, the machinery companies contribute to the fact that the industry ceramics Spanish is one of the most advanced in the world. The association that represents them, Asebec It is celebrating its anniversary, and although the situation is delicate, we must look to the future.

Asebec turns 40. How were the origins and evolution of the association?

Our association was born in 1982, although it already had precedents, with the machinery of the agricultural sector. With the advent of ceramics, there were companies that diversified their activity, which grew in the 1960s and 1970s, until Asebec was created in 1982, with its president, board and statutes.

How has this history of four decades passed?

The first president was Jaime Domeque. And then Juan Santiago Bono, my father, came in. Later it was Francisco Ortells, who was there for 16 years, who consolidated the entity. Later I joined the board as vice president, and then I became the president.

What is the level of Spanish ceramic machinery within the international context?

During this time the industry has progressed until a player appears, like Kerajet, with digital printing, which took off all over the world. This technology has made us be the greatest exponents, and although in Italy they also adopted this technique, we continue to be always at the forefront. On the other hand, we have always been closely linked to Qualicer, the congress that was created between College of Engineers and the Chamber of Commerceand that it is a referent.

The anniversary comes at a delicate moment for ceramics. What has to be done to overcome this pothole of costs energetic?

The problem of runaway energy prices is tied to the future of energy. We already know that energy will not drop in price, because there is a horizon to decarbonize. How can you buy cheap gas if they won’t let you have it later? All the regulations of Europe they make energy very expensive. And on top of that, in our country, the Government does not defend us as they do or Italy, despite the fact that we are engine of growth and employment and exports. As a cluster, the situation is very delicate. But as a machinery sector we have the technology, we will make the change and we will have workedbecause we will be providers of technology for change.

Have you calculated the losses suffered by the companies associated with Asebec?

In principle no, because we have carried over many investments started before the crisis. When there are profound changes, companies change machinery. With the ink-jet everything changed. Then with the adoption of large formats, and the mechanisms to adopt maximum energy efficiency with the price of gas. We have been in a good time, but now there will be a brake. With fewer ceramic companies, Asebec companies will lose customers. That is why it is committed to diversification. Many companies are already exporting at 80%: if there is no ceramic industry here, we will continue going to other parts of the world, although we prefer to have a niche market close to home.

«The Cevisama fair is our natural market; We play at home and we want a lot of presence.”

Will there be a lot of lack of investment in Spain?

Yes. The Italians have tax incentives and they dominate the most important markets, and that is a big problem that affects our tiles and those of us who work with them. We have to defend our cluster.

Political tensions with Spain have made Algeria cut trade relations since the summer. In what situation is this blockade?

We are in permanent contact with the authorities. We also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, in Alicante. He said the problem would be fixed and it hasn’t been fixed. We lose sales, since 20% of exports depend on this country, and there are extra costs even if you can sell through third countries. It is a handicap that enamel companies also face. This means more unemployment and less economy, which adds to the problem of Ukraine and the Eastern countries. Everything that happens internationally has an impact on our sector.

were in Cersaie and Tecna in Italy, and in a few months the technological pavilion of Cevisama.

In Tecna, many buyers were expected, although the usual ones came, with which markets were consolidated. As for Cevisama, it is our natural market, we play at home and we want there to be a lot of presence from abroad. We bet a lot on the technological pavilion, and our natural market is the Spanish-speaking one.

What are the new markets for the sale of ceramic machinery in these moments of uncertainty?

We ship a lot to Mexicosince much of what is manufactured there is sent to USA and those plants are growing. They don’t have problems like ours, there is a lot of growth. In addition, we will carry out commercial missions in Mexico and technological conferences to consolidate our presence. Added to this are companies specializing in ink jetwhich are still spread all over the world.

There is concern about the energy transition. What mechanisms do you bet more on?

Now we are in a maelstrom, and we would like the technology to be already in place, but at the moment it is not. We have hydrogen, which is not clear, since a lot of electricity must be allocated for this. Then we have the electric oven that has already been implemented in some factories in Italy and can be part of the solution. It must be taken into account that it is difficult to change things, especially when there are people who still believe that there is still time to adapt. Many continue betting on gas, and there are no clear investments. A lot of research is done, but so far it is difficult to see this future. To which is added that in atomizers, with their high energy consumption, it is even more difficult to achieve change.

“The Government does not defend us as in Italy, despite being the engine of employment”