Table of contents:
- Largest sales market in China is declining slightly
- Germany is world export champion
- We need flexible IT infrastructures
- What are the effects of electromobility?
Video: The Machine Tool Industry Has A Positive Outlook For
On the occasion of the annual press conference on February 2, 2017, the Association of German Machine Tool Builders announced that the machine tool industry had a good start to 2017. "We expect production to grow by 3% this year," says Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chairman of the VDW.
The basis for the assessment is international industrial production and global machine tool demand, which according to Oxford Economics, forecast partner of the VDW, should develop well. The forecast is also supported by the order backlog from last year. Until November, orders from German manufacturers, driven by foreign countries, rose by 7%. Domestic orders remained at the previous year's level. Overall, according to the VDW, the German machine tool industry benefits above all from the large-volume and automotive-driven project business worldwide.
Largest sales market in China is declining slightly
The VDW forecast is based on the good year 2016. The German machine tool industry has produced machines worth 15.2 billion euros, which corresponds to an increase of around 1%. "This meant that our industry achieved a production record," says Prokop.
With an export quota of 66%, exports fell by 3% to around EUR 9.1 billion, mainly due to falling demand from China. Nevertheless, according to VDW China, the most important sales market for German machine tools remains. Almost a fifth went to the Middle Kingdom in 2016.
In 2016, an average of 69,000 women and men were employed in the German machine tool industry. Capacity utilization in Germany averaged 88% year-on-year. The order backlog of 6.9 months was slightly higher than in 2015.
Germany is world export champion
German machine tool manufacturers became international export champions in 2016 in front of Japan. Without parts and accessories, the manufacturers achieved an export result of 7.6 billion euros, according to the VDW. Last year's champions Japan had to cope with losses of more than a fifth to 6.3 billion euros. The association cites the weakness of the Asian sales market as the reason for the Japanese slump. China is the leader in production with 16.5 billion euros, followed by Japan with 11.4 billion euros and Germany with 11.25 billion euros.
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We need flexible IT infrastructures
"The year 2017 is marked by many challenges that offer opportunities to generate new competitive advantages and expand our range," explains Prokop. This is especially true in the area of digitally networked production and solutions for Industry 4.0. Significant potential lay in the continuous automation of the entire order process and the elimination of process disruptions.
"To make this possible, we need flexible IT infrastructure from machines to the cloud that is affordable even for smaller manufacturing companies," says Prokop. There are still hurdles to overcome in this way. These include issues that have not yet been resolved, such as the standardization of interfaces, data security, data sovereignty, liability issues, employee qualification or labor law.
New ideas and developments for tomorrow's production will also be shown at EMO Hannover 2017. After a four-year break, the trade fair for metalworking will take place from September 18 to 23 under the motto "Connecting systems for intelligent production".
What are the effects of electromobility?
Another topic of the future for the industry is electromobility. How the machine tool industry will be affected is still open, according to the association, since not even the most pressing questions about the level of the proportion of pure electric vehicles or the change in the machining volume have been resolved. However, the VDW assumes that there will be a higher proportion of hybrid vehicles for a longer transition period. According to German production researchers, their degree of complexity due to the combination of combustion and electric motors should continue to require high chip volumes. "The VDW supports its members and is currently analyzing which developments can be expected in which periods in order to provide the basis for strategic business planning," explains Prokop.
In summary, VDW chairman Heinz-Jürgen Prokop states that the German machine tool industry is well equipped for the future. She is working on getting ready for the competition. The global machine tool demand is increasing and the German manufacturers are at the forefront, says Prokop. You can meet this need and benefit immediately. "I am sure that we will continue to be at the forefront in the future", is the final conclusion of the VDW chairman. (kj)