Continued Moderate Growth
After an altogether excellent year and with continuing good prospects, the manufacturers of machine tools and precision tools can look forward to AMB 2016. The international exhibition for metal working will take place from 13 to 17 September at the fully booked up Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre. Over 90,000 specialist visitors are expected.
There have never been more machine tools! The German machine tool industry last year achieved a record in production.
Four per cent growth ensured another record result after 2013. According to preliminary results, the sector generated 15.1 billion Euro with machinery and services, as the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW) announced in February in Frankfurt. Machine tool production employs over 68,000 people in Germany.
World Champion Runner-up in Exports, 3rd Place in Production
The domestic market and exports made equal contributions of over four per cent each. The domestic market generated orders for 5.7 billion Euro, while exports totalled 9.4 billion Euro - just below the historic record of 9.56 billion Euro achieved in 2012. With a total of only 180 million Euro less than Japan, Germany was export world champion runner-up. However, VDW Director Dr. Wilfried Schäfer was also positively surprised at the business in a supposedly weakening Europe market: "The result of plus eight per cent for our sector last year was particularly good."
World machine tool production reached a value of 67.3 billion Euro in 2015, excluding parts and accessories. Among the machine tool producers, Germany took third place with machinery production valued at 11.2 billion Euro, behind China and Japan. This too is an increase of four per cent, and a worldwide share of around 17 per cent. Incidentally, Germany also takes third place in machine tool consumption, rising five per cent to 5.7 billion Euro. Only China and the USA use more machinery.
"For 2016, we expect moderate growth of one per cent," explained VDW Chairman Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop. Strong growth in orders above all in the last quarter of 2015 gives cause for confidence. The domestic and foreign markets both increased by three per cent (plus one per cent for the whole year). After a brief dip in December, incoming orders again rose to six per cent in January.
Growth Also for the Manufacturers of Precision Tools
There was also positive news at the start of the year from the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). "The precision tools industry increased its production by a total of three per cent to around 9.6 billion Euro in 2015," reported Federation Chairman Lothar Horn in Frankfurt. The manufacturers of metal-cutting tools contributed to the record production figures with an increase in sales of approximately one per cent, chucking tools and tool construction each increased by around five per cent.
Prospects for the current year also differ somewhat: While the outlook is again very good in tool construction, according to Horn "the manufacturers of metal-cutting tools and chucking tools anticipate only a slight increase in production for 2016".
Markus Heseding, Director of the German Engineering Federation, is hoping for a strong boost from AMB in September: "AMB 2016 is the spangest trade fair for our industry in Germany. We expect full stands in the precision tool halls." For the Federation, the trade fair is not only a showcase for technological developments, but also the ideal platform for the exchange of ideas and opinions among industry experts. Heseding: "AMB 2016 is a must".
Baden-Württemberg, Motherland of the Machine Tool
The home of the machine tool is clearly Baden-Württemberg. According to the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW), a good 40 per cent of pure machine tool manufacturers and almost 50 per cent of employees are located here. A long way behind:
North Rhine-Westphalia, with almost 18 per cent. The state contributes over half of the production of machine tools. This leading role will probably remain uncontested, as the share of incoming orders in Germany was 57.5 percent, or over five billion Euro, in 2014 (2015 figures are not yet available). The average order backlog has for many years been between seven and nine months, and capacity utilisation regularly over 90 per cent.
According to the State Statistical Office, over 270 companies with more than 20 employees are dedicated directly or indirectly to the production of machine tools. In 2014, with 45,000 employees they achieved a total turnover of over 10 billion Euro and invested more than 193 million Euro.
The Advance of Digitalisation
In this AMB year, German machine tool producers are strengthening their commitment to new technologies. VDW Chairman Heinz-Jürgen Prokop: "In order to continue to safeguard our strong position in the international competition, it is increasingly important to provide solutions that others are not able to offer." By this, he refers primarily to digitalisation under the keyword "Industry 4.0". Machine tool manufacturers, he says, would be well advised to expand their vision and to think in terms of holistic solutions to production problems. This requires a deep process understanding of customer requirements, which in some cases vary greatly. Prokop: "Nobody knows these worlds better than we do, and this is our great opportunity."
Images: R. Eberhard, messekompakt.com, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh
Source: Messe Stuttgart