In the second quarter of 2012, order bookings in Germany's machine tool industry fell by 20 per cent compared to April-June 2011. Domestic orders fell by 8 per cent. Orders from abroad were 26 per cent down on the preceding year's figure. In the first six months of this year, order bookings fell by 13 per cent compared to the equivalent period of 2011. Here, domestic orders were down by six per cent on the preceding year, export orders by 17 per cent.
"The months April to June have shown that the machine tool industry cannot disengage from global macro-economic developments", says Dr Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director at the sectoral organisation VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association) in Frankfurt am Main. However, he adds, the preceding year's second quarter saw the steepest rise in export orders during the entire year, so that the comparatively high decrease in orders from abroad also reflects a base effect. For the year's second half, the VDW expects orders from abroad will stabilise once more. They put approximately twice as much volume on the scales as the domestic market.
In Germany itself, the machine tool industry has a broad customer base, which in its turn lives from exporting. The automotive industry and its components suppliers, in particular, are investing in new model generations and economical drive technologies. The moderate fall in orders during the year's second quarter is attributable to one-off effects from large orders for forming technology.
Correspondingly, the order backlog, at 8.4 months in June of this year, following 8.7 months in February, is still very high. Plants are running at well-nigh full capacity. Most recently, in fact, the capacity utilization figure has even risen slightly, from 95.1 per cent in April to 96.9 per cent in July. The industry's workforce increased by more than 6 per cent over the year's first five months to reach 68,590 employees in all.
"Although the macro-economic situation has become significantly more problematical in recent months, due to the euro debt crisis and its effects on the global economy, and investors are unsettled, machine tool production output is set to keep on growing this year", says Schäfer. The VDW is forecasting 6 per cent growth in production output.
The German machine tool industry ranks among the five largest sectors in the country's mechanical engineering segment. It supplies production technologies for metalworking applications to all categories of manufacturer, and makes a crucial contribution towards progressing innovation and productivity in the industrial sector overall. Due to its absolutely key position for industrial production output, its development is also an important indicator for the economic vigour of the country's industrial sector as a whole. In 2011, the German machine tool industry produced machines and services worth around 13 billion euros, and was employing 67,800 people (status: December 2011, firms with more than 20 staff) This corresponded to growth of 31 per cent.
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