Following two years of substantial growth, the German machine tool industry expects a modest increase in production output of 1 per cent during 2013. “This means the sector will be back to its previous high from 2008”, reports Martin Kapp, Chairman of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), speaking at the organisation’s annual press conference in Frankfurt am Main.
Last year went better than expected: the good starting position with the order books full and capacity utilisation at a high level sustained production throughout 2012, said Kapp. With growth totalling 9 per cent, the sector achieved a production volume worth 14.1 billion euros.
German exports reach a new high
Exports performed even better: 9.5 billion euros, representing a rise of 20 per cent, is the highest figure ever measured.
- The single biggest market continues to be China: with a volume of around 2.4 billion euros and growth of 14 per cent, the Chinese market bought more than twice as many German machines as the second-largest market, the USA. The USA’s industrial sector, too, opts for German machine tools when it comes to modernising its production lines. Up to November 2012, exports were a good third above those in the record year of 2008. Even in crisis-hit Spain, sales were higher than in the preceding year, though starting from a low baseline.
- The domestic market, characterised by risk-averse mid-tier customers, stagnated at 6.8 billion euros, which was still a good bit below the pre-crisis level.
- Capacity utilisation, at 92.4 per cent in January of this year, was only slightly below the preceding year’s average. By October 2012, the order backlog had been downsized to 8.3 months, almost a month less than last year’s equivalent figure.
Optimism for 2013
For 2013, the VDW’s forecasting partner, Oxford Economics, is confident that industrial production output and fixed-asset investments will once again be showing a somewhat steeper increase worldwide. This applies primarily to Asia and America, less to Europe.
For the machine tool industry in Germany, this signifies stable order levels. Once again, the primary impetus will be coming from Asia. Currently, early indicators in China, which most recently had been ordering 30 per cent less, are on the up again. The Purchasing Manager Index rose to more than 52 points in January 2013 compared to its nadir in August 2012. Industrial production output, too, is again showing double-figure growth.
“Intelligence in Production” at the EMO Hannover 2013
International users of machine tools are facing major challenges all over the world. They are compelled to organise their production operations for maximised efficiency under tremendous pressure of costs while meeting ultra-stringent requirements for cost-effectiveness and minimised environmental impact. Intelligent production is the key factor here. Vendors able to sustainedly offer intelligent production solutions all over the world will possess a major competitive advantage here. These will be showcased at the EMO Hannover 2013, under the keynote motto “Intelligence in Production” from 16 to 21 September.
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