Orders received by the German machine tool industry in the first quarter of 2021 were 26% up on Q1 2020. Orders from Germany rose by 10%, while foreign orders were 35% higher.
Wilfried Schäfer (pictured), executive director of the Frankfurt-based VDW
(German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), said: “For several months now, the industry has been registering improving sentiment among customers. This is now finally being reflected in the figures.”
However, he added that the low basis of the figures in the first quarter of 2020 was also part of the reason for the strong growth, as demand fell away sharply from March 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
He continued: “Comparison with Q1 2019 therefore provides a more realistic picture. Here, total orders are still 14% below the level at that time, while foreign orders are just 1% higher. That means we still have a long way to go before we return to a reasonable order level.
“The upward trend in foreign orders in the current year is primarily attributable to the non-euro economies. Here, China is driving the global economy forward and fuelling demand, and has been joined in this role by the new ‘beacon of hope’ — the USA.
“However, the recovery is relatively broad-based, as Europe is now also reviving, although many areas have a lot of catching up to do. The positive picture is completed by the capacity utilisation figure, which has risen from a low of 67% last summer to its current rate of 79%.
“That said, bottlenecks in supplies are hampering production. Indeed, in a recent ‘pandemic survey’, almost half of the machine tool manufacturers questioned said they were experiencing serious problems with the supply of electronic components, especially controls, while 46% were experiencing difficulties with steel and metal products.”
The VDW expects production levels to increase by 6% in the current year. The resulting volume of 12.9 billion euros is above that of the 2009/2010 financial crisis, but still far below the record years 2018 and 2019.