Sharp decline in machine tool orders, but ...
... metal forming technology still is selling well in the Eurozone. Orders for German forming machine tools builders in the second quarter 2019 were 1% up on the previous year’s figure. Domestic orders fell by 13%. Foreign orders, by contrast, rose by 11%.
Frankfurt/Germany (VDW) – “There are fragile signs of hope at certain points within the metal forming sector,” says Mr. Wilfried Schaefer, Executive Director of the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association VDW. Given the general situation, the second quarter was satisfactory in both press manufacturing and sheet metal processing. However, this by no means represents a turnaround; at the very most it is an indication that individual long-standing projects are now being implemented despite the general gloom.
The machine tool industry is not immune to the factors that are creating so much turbulence in the global economy as a whole and that are currently the subject of much discussion: “We are in the same boat as the other major international suppliers. Orders for machine tools have collapsed worldwide. Many countries are now having to pay the price for the almost daily international disputes being picked by politicians,” emphasises Schaefer. The machine tool industry is a pure supplier of capital goods and equipment to industry, and as such is exposed to pressure from weak demand in the major customer industries, the engineering sector and the automotive industry. The latter is additionally undergoing a protracted period of uncertainty as a result of the tentative transformation process towards new drive technologies, and is cutting back investment accordingly.
Within the triad of suppliers, the Europeans are still performing most strongly. Orders from Eurozone countries rose by 9%, while those from non-euro countries were down 7%. The improved business development in sheet metal processing and laser technology is having a positive impact. The German machine tool industry ranks among the five largest specialist groupings in the mechanical engineering sector. It provides production technology for metalworking applications in all branches of industry, and makes a crucial contribution towards innovation and enhanced productivity in the industrial sector as a whole. Due to its absolutely key role for industrial production, its development is an important indicator for the economic dynamism of the industrial sector as such. In 2018, with around 73,500 employees (annual average in 2018, companies with more than 50 employees), the sector produced machines and services worth 17.1 billion Euros.