Further growth for German machine tool industry

The German machine tool industry’s order bookings rose in the third quarter of 2016 by 8 per cent compared to the preceding year’s equivalent period. Domestic orders were down by 14 per cent, while demand from abroad increased by 22 per cent. In the first nine months of the year order bookings were up by 11 per cent compared to 2015. Domestic orders showed a slight rise of 2 per cent. Demand from abroad is meanwhile up by 16 per cent.

“In the year’s third quarter, our sector has been able to build on the encouraging business trends of 2016’s first half. The good order situation is here being crucially boosted by demand from abroad. This applies for the Eurozone and to an even greater extent for the non-eurozone”, explains Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the sectoral organisation VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association).

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW, Frankfurt am Main

In the Eurozone, the Southern European markets of Italy, Spain and France are helping to drive the order upturn forward. Outside Europe, orders from the USA have been particularly buoyant, thanks especially to the rising level of orders from the nation’s automotive industry.

Looked at more closely, the third quarter exhibits a plus of 7 per cent for metal-cutting equipment, and a rise of 10 per cent for forming machinery. While in both these technologies orders from abroad showed a pretty uniform double-figure rise, metal-cutting machines recorded a minus of 23 per cent in domestic orders during the July-to-September period.

For the year’s first nine months, order bookings displayed a similar picture: a plus of 12 per cent overall, while domestic business shrank by 7 per cent. Export orders, by contrast, were up by 22 per cent.

In terms of forming technology, orders from both Germany and abroad showed a balanced picture, with export orders (plus 11 per cent) on almost level pegging with domestic orders (plus 10 per cent).

In the first nine months of 2016, the overall growth of 9 per cent in forming technology was strongly supported by domestic orders, up by 24 per cent. This massive rise is crucially attributable to large-scale project business involving presses for the German automotive industry. In the same time period, export orders showed only a modest increase of 1 per cent.

To quote the VDW’s Executive Director: “In contrast to the preceding months, developments in the third quarter of 2016 were not dominated by large orders. Rather, we’re seeing a balanced picture over the various product categories involved, which are proving very successful on the global market”.

Capacity utilisation in the German machine tool industry had risen from 86.6 in mid-year to 90.2 per cent in October 2016. “This is an indicator confirming that despite cyclical fluctuations the sector is firmly on course for further growth”, concludes Wilfried Schäfer.

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