Domestic orders holding up for Germany’s machine tool industry

In the first quarter of 2012, order bookings in Germany’s machine tool industry fell by 7 per cent. Domestic orders were 1 per cent down on the preceding year’s equivalent figure. Orders from abroad fell by 9 per cent compared to the historical highs of the previous year.

German Machine Tool Industry – Moderate fall in demand during the first quarter of 2012.

“Capacity utilisation is still holding up well in Germany’s industrial sector, which is investing in additional capacities for coping with its orders”, is how Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the sectoral organisation VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main, comments on the quarterly result.

Europe goes well
“European demand, too, is still looking good”, is Schäfer’s verdict. Though the debt crisis is being reflected in declining orders from Southern Europe, he added, while other European countries like the Scandinavian nations, the United Kingdom or France have continued to place substantial orders, a trend already foreshadowed at the METAV 2012, the international trade fair for production technology and automation held in late February, where exhibitors had confirmed a continuingly high propensity to invest in Europe’s industrial sectors.

5% growth
The order backlog, at 9 months in February of this year, is at a similar level to October of last year. Capacity utilisation, at 95.1 per cent in April 2012, was likewise almost unchanged. In February of this year, the sector was employing 68,200 people, 6.4 per cent up on the preceding year’s equivalent figure. “The German machine tool industry is still performing well. By reason of the order backlog, a rise in production output for 2012 is virtually assured”, predicts Schäfer. The VDW is forecasting growth of 5 per cent. Though demand is quietening down, he added, this has already been factored into the pricing, and will give the companies a breathing space for addressing strategic issues, like expanding their business operations in Asia.