Sara Quotti Tubi tells me she is tired but pleased with how the 31st edition of SaMoTer and co-located Asphaltica is going when we meet late morning on the event's second day.
A total of 536 companies were exhibiting, including leading Italian manufacturers such as CIFA, MB Crusher, VF Venieri, Perlini, Simex, Marini, Indeco, Massenza, Carmix, and Simem, and major international players such as Caterpillar, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Komatsu, and Develon.
"This is my first SaMoTer, and I only took charge of the event last May. When I came in, I wanted to change some aspects. This is the first SaMoTer in six years, and it was complicated to rebuild the event. I am in charge of another event focused on Italian agricultural machinery, and, like that event, I wanted SaMoTer to underline industry innovation," says Quotti Tubi.
"I spoke to many [construction machinery] companies before managing SaMoTer. I first noticed that the companies stressed their need to be supported in interpreting all the data their increasingly digitised businesses generated. I tried to understand their needs and realised this year's exhibition needed to focus on digitisation, innovation, and the green transition."
Quotti Tubi notes that visitors to this year's SaMoTer can see the machinery of the future at work in a new dynamic exhibition area: Il Cantiere Digitale - The Digital Construction Site, part of the SaMoTer LAB project. A wide variety of machines and software solutions were on show, from Caterpillar CGT, Komatsu, Develon, Dynapac, Topcon Positioning, SITECH, Trimble, Leica Geosystems, Infocin, and Way Srl.
"The idea was, 'We can speak about technology, but now we can see it working on a construction site'. When you see competitors working together and sharing their digital know-how. It is amazing. Safety is another important part of what we are doing with The Digital Construction Site. People must work in total safety," she emphasises. "In the past, I worked in the renewable energy sector. The green transition is perfect for me, but you must also consider the economic aspects. You cannot use electric-powered construction machines in all industry locations. They are perfect in city centres but not elsewhere."
Five well-attended SaMoTer LAB-organised webinars in the build-up to the exhibition also added to the event's innovation, digitisation and green transition focus. The featured topics were electric, hydrogen and hybrid: a zero-emission sector; innovation for safety in the workplace; digitisation of company processes; decarbonisation and the construction world; and innovation, training and green: new business paradigms.
In addition to more than 500 B2B meetings set up by companies with over 106 foreign top buyers from 36 countries selected by Veronafiere and ICE-Trade Agency, the 31st edition of SaMoTer confirmed its status as a trade fair with great content with more than 80 training initiatives and educational activities organised with high-profile technical-scientific partners.
"I met with senior Unacea [Italian construction equipment association] people about this year's event, and they said, 'Okay, we can see the industry is changing'. They saw the need to embrace that. For example, SaMoTer Lab, in partnership with a famous Italian electric vehicle magazine, staged an electric machines training workshop yesterday [Day 1 of SaMoTer 2023], which was full. I stressed to the hosts the need for the workshop to be practical," says Quotti Tubi.
She continues: "In my mind, this year's event is the first step towards a new SaMoTer. Our visitors are very well organised and professional. They come here well-prepared and want to find good information to help them buy machines. However, it is not all about new machines, SaMoTer is about highlighting innovation and helping fill industry knowledge gaps."
The 24th SaMoTer Innovation Award saw wins for 16 off-highway equipment manufacturers in the competition's various categories and the special design prize. Hybrid or electric machinery developed for earthmoving and various applications in the hoisting/lifting world, technologies that improve operator safety and comfort on construction sites worldwide, and new IT systems and software delivering better production process efficiency were among the winning entries.
TELT won the 2023 edition of the prestigious and historic SaMoTer International Award. Veronafiere chose the dual-national public promoter responsible for the construction and management of the international section of the Turin-Lyon railway line, a company owned 50% by the French Ministry for the Ecological Transition and 50% by the Italian State through Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato.
"Companies were very happy with the emphasis of this year's Innovation Award," says Quotti Tubi. "I have spoken to many companies at the exhibition who were enthusiastic about the Award. Many winners showcased their victories on their websites. The Award presentations night was very special."
The central role of SaMoTer in Italy's industrial site, construction machinery and equipment value chain, and excellent attendance and operator satisfaction were recognised at this year's event by prominent national and local government institutions. The Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Matteo Salvini, inaugurated the event. At the same time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajani, highlighted how SaMoTer is a key part of the integrated foreign promotion strategy for Italian companies.
In his speech at SaMoTer 2023, Salvini praised the positive work of the country's construction sector. "I think SaMoTer celebrates the positive side of Italy that is unafraid to dig, work, modernise and go faster. When we excavate, build, move faster and innovate, there is employment, a future and hope: the building and construction sector is vital."
"It is a very good sign for the Italian construction machinery industry when Government ministers are coming to SaMoTer," notes Quotti Tubi. "I battled hard to get them here. It's a platform for our exhibiting companies and trade associations to tell the ministers how they can help our industry and for the ministers to learn how they can best do that."
Italian road construction and repair machinery makers have seen their solutions in great demand in the last couple of years on projects linked to Italy's Recovery & Resilience Plan (RRP) developed within a broader €190bn-plus NextGenerationEU program.
There are over 100 active Italian infrastructure works, including many involving road construction and repair, with approved investments of over €100bn. Meanwhile, the Italian Government continues its €5.3bn Infrastructure Operational Plan to develop road, rail, and port infrastructure.
Asked what she thinks about the current health of the Italian construction machinery sector, Quotti Tubi says: "I have read the latest data from Unacea, and the market is undergoing a period of stabilisation after a very active six months. Many investments in new machinery have been made. There are also challenges, such as rising material costs, the Russia-Ukraine War and other issues. The overall trend, though, is positive."
The next edition of SaMoTer is scheduled for 6-9 May 2026. I ask Quotti Tubi what visitors will see at the next exhibition. "Technology and innovation run fast, and there will be much new to see at the next event. I would like more specialist machines and technology demonstrations over a wider showground area as part of SaMoTer Lab. I think there will be many new solutions on show in 2026."