For 2016, the German machine tool industry is cautiously optimistic.
“We’re expecting moderate growth of 1 per cent in 2016,” says Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chairman of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), speaking at the organisation’s annual press conference in Frankfurt am Main.
This prognosis is based on capital investment from the major customer sectors, global figures for machine tool consumption, and finally the order bookings at Germany’s machine tool manufacturers.
For the investments, Oxford Economics, the VDW’s forecasting partner, was in the autumn of last year expecting a global increase of 4 per cent.
The principal drivers are traditionally the automotive industry, followed by the electrical engineering and electronics industries, metal product manufacturers, and the mechanical engineering sector.
Machine tool consumption is predicted to rise by 4.2 per cent. Europe tops the rankings here (plus 4.6 per cent), closely followed by Asia (plus 4.5 per cent) and America (plus 2.5 per cent).
Order bookings at German machine tool manufacturers, an indicator for medium-term business activity, showed a moderate rise of 1 per cent in 2015, to reach 14.9 billion euros.
Production output and order bookings are thus settling at approximately the same level.
During the first three quarters of 2015 Asia and Europe ordered 4 and 3 per cent more German machine tools respectively than in the previous year.
Orders from China, which account for around a quarter of the total, were down again, this time by 8 per cent.
Last year, the German machine tool industry produced machines worth 15.1 billion euros, corresponding to an increase of 4 per cent.
“That’s once again a record figure, following the last high in 2013,” said Dr Prokop.
With an export ratio of around 70 per cent, and exports up by 4 per cent to around 9.4 billion euros, markets abroad made a somewhat greater contribution to the overall result than domestic consumption.
Contrary to all expectations, Europe did particularly well, with a plus of 8 per cent.
Asia, by contrast, a few years ago on almost level pegging with Europe, disappointed with a fall in exports of 5 per cent. China, the largest market with a share of still over one-fifth, has been severely affected.
Dr Prokop said all in all, the German machine tool industry is in excellent shape.
For more than 100 years the machine tool industry has demonstrated it can repeatedly re-invent itself.
It has overcome many challenges, and never failed to upgrade its leading position in the world. This year the VDW celebrates its 125th anniversary.