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Sales of German foundry machinery up by 17 per cent in 2018

In 2018, sales of the German foundry machinery manufacturers exceeded expectations, with growth of 17 per cent nominally, reaching a new record. However, domestic production failed to keep pace, falling by 14 per cent to €927 million*, reports VDMA Metallurgy, the German association for mechanical engineering equipment.

Compared with the high volume of sales recorded in 2017, orders received fell slightly, by 2 per cent, in 2018. However, a clear trend was apparent in the first quarter of 2019. Compared with the upward trend seen in 2018, orders received were almost halved. Orders from countries outside the Eurozone continued their upward trend up to the end of 2018, growing by 20 per cent in 2018 compared with 2017. After the end of 2018, the trend was reversed, as had previously been the case with orders from the Eurozone.

World trade in foundry machinery on the upswing in 2018

According to estimates made by the specialist association, world trade in the foundry machinery sector increased by five per cent in 2018, to a level slightly above €2.3 billion**. On average, exports from the five largest supplier countries of foundry machinery – China, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea – were above the value for 2017 last year (+8 per cent). In addition to German exports, deliveries from China (+5 per cent) and Italy also grew (+15 per cent).

German foundry machinery exports in 2018 up 11 per cent on previous year

In 2018 as a whole, German foundry machinery manufacturers exported 11 per cent more than the previous year (€175 million***). There was strong growth in exports to China (+35 per cent), the largest market for foundry machinery from Germany, and to Mexico (+40 per cent) and Turkey (+76 per cent). Exports to the USA (-18 per cent) recorded the second fall in succession. Deliveries to the EU28 countries grew slightly by 6 per cent, with these countries accounting for 44 per cent in total exports by the sector. In addition to increased deliveries to Sweden (+48 per cent), there was also significant growth in exports to the Iberian Peninsula, which more than doubled compared with the previous year.

2019 – fall in sales expected in the single-digit range

As in many EU countries, the business climate in large areas of the world in key customer industries for castings, including machinery and automobile production, has once again become more sluggish. In addition, it has not yet been possible to settle the conditions for Brexit or the trade dispute between China and the USA. A glance at purchasing manager indices indicates a patchy scenario. While pessimism predominates in the EU, the indices in the BRIC countries, especially Brazil, Russia and India, in addition to the USA, are still above the growth threshold of 50 index points. Starting from the very high value of the previous year, the specialist association expects a fall in sales in the high single-digit range in 2019. Vigorous ordering following this year’s GIFA, the main industry showcase, will probably only counteract this trend by the end of the year at the earliest.

“The results of recent economic surveys clearly indicate that German foundry machinery manufacturers continue to face a wide range of challenges. In addition to the many barriers to trade and associated deterioration in economic conditions, other issues include the further development of drive systems and e-mobility. Automation and digitalisation are other focus topics, together with financing and support for research,” said Dr Timo Wu¨rz, managing director of the metallurgy specialist association. Twitter: @VDMAonline

* Production figures are provisional and may be revised over the next few months.

** Worldwide export data for 2018 is not yet available in full (values from countries such as Singapore and Turkey are missing).

*** The nomenclature of official statistics means that it is not possible to give an overall figure for foundry machinery exports. The areas of ‘sand preparation systems for foundries’ and ‘production of moulds’ cannot be precisely defined in the export statistics and are not included in the data stated.