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Demand for machine tools lacks momentum

In the first quarter of 2013, order

bookings in Germany’s machine tool industry fell by 19 per cent compared to

the equivalent quarter of 2012. Domestic orders were down by 21 per cent,

while orders from abroad dropped by 18 per cent.

[photo] Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool

Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main, Germany

“Demand for machine tools is still lacking momentum”, comments Dr. Wilfried

Schäfer, Executive Director of the industry association VDW (German Machine

Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main. The weak start to the

year, he said, signals a perceptible degree of scepticism, not least by

mid-tier customers in Germany. Order bookings in metal-cutting

applications, for instance, with a broadly diversified customer base,

remained 26 per cent down on the preceding year’s figure. In forming

technology, by contrast, which is dominated by project business with the

automotive industry, orders are still running at the previous year’s level.

“The year’s second half now has to provide a counterweight, if the

predicted growth in production output of one per cent is not to be put at

risk”, comments Schäfer. Expectations here are once again focused on the

expanding markets of Asia. In China, particularly, by far the biggest

market for the German machine tool industry, faster economic growth is

again being forecast. North America, most recently a vital support for the

sector, will remain a stable market this year as well. Russia, finally,

thanks to its substantial need for modernisation in its domestic industrial

sector, likewise continues to be an attractive customer.

There are also rays of hope from the international automotive industry,

which is deploying strategic investments in the battle for market shares,

and from the aircraft industry and the mechanical engineering sector. All

of them intend to be making above-average capital investments in 2013.

There will be a good opportunity for this at the EMO Hannover 2013, where

the international world of metalworking will be meeting up from 16 to 21

September, showcasing to the planet’s users of machine tools the latest

innovations in the field of production technology, providing them with the

best possible basis for their ongoing investment decisions.

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