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Spanish machine tool industry registers 2.4% growth

March 2019

Although the figures are still provisional, according to AFM (the Spanish association of manufacturers of machine tools, accessories, parts and tools), Spain’s advanced and digital machine tool manufacturing industry closed 2018 with an increase of 2.4% compared to 2017, totalling 1,731 million euros. 

“The trend throughout the year has been very irregular, with quarters alternating between high and low amounts of orders. Invoicing results for metal cutting were positive (+6%) although not for metal forming (-4.7%), which fell after several years of exceptional growth. The remaining subsectors also grew moderately: components grew by 5%, tools by 3.2%, accessories by 2.3%, other machines by 1% and machining by 13%,” commented the association. 

AFM Chairman, César Garbalena, added: “In terms of production, the strong portfolio we started out with in 2018 has allowed us to maintain a good level of activity throughout the year. New orders have not been constant, as regards both the various subsectors (it has been a better year for metal- cutting than for metal forming) and the year itself, with favourable quarters alternating with slower quarters, but with a final good result for incoming orders. Within metal cutting, it has been a good year for the milling subsector in contrast to the uncertainty in the automotive sector that has affected our manufacturers of metal forming equipment.”

AFM Chairman

AFM Chairman, César Garbalena

Exports in 2018 reached record figures, growing by 3.6% compared to 2017, and totalling 1,277 million euros. Metal cutting export figures are also positive, +7%, and metal forming showed a small reduction of 3.8%. For machine tools, analysis (up to October 2018) unveiled the following ten main markets for Spanish manufacturers: Germany, which accounts for 12.3% of all exports; China, in second place with 10.1% and Mexico third, at 9.8%. Following these are the U.S. at 8.2%; Portugal at 7.3% and then France; Italy; Czech Republic; Poland and the UK. 

Garbalena also commented on overseas markets: “It is comforting to see that the hard work invested in positioning ourself in overseas markets during the global economic downturn has borne fruit. We have returned to record export figures in exports that have not undergone significant variations compared to the previous year. In terms of incoming orders, which will mark future exports, Europe has kept pace and performance in America has been vigorous, while Asia is the region that has lost impetus. He added that the effects of tariff changes and the trade disputes launched by the U.S. are ‘of concern, as are the effects of an uncontrolled Brexit which may affect business trust in Europe, in addition to the direct effects on trade in our sector’.

Consumption of machine tools in Spain showed a clear downturn in growth in 2018 (+1.8%), compared to 2017 (+24.4%). Although the figure remains the highest in the decade, it is still ‘below the anticipated potential of a country like Spain, which amply exceeded current figures in the past’. Orders increased by 3.5% in 2018. Metal cutting figures have improved, bolstered by the milling subsector, with growth at 7.8%, while metal forming has dropped slightly (-1.6%).

“Despite great uncertainty in domestic and international scenarios, the promising amounts of incoming orders over the last two years lead us to estimate an acceptable year of activity, where we expect to achieve revenue and export results in 2019 which are very similar to those in 2018,” added the association.

Xabier Ortueta, General Manager of the association, concluded: “We believe that the keys to navigating the uncertain future are evident. First of all, we represent a knowledge sector and we should therefore rely on the best professionals at all levels to recruit, safeguard and increase our talent. Secondly, we must continue to apply digitisation forcefully in our products, processes and services. The digital facet of the equipment we sell is growing exponentially and we must discover how to acquire part of the enormous added value that we can help our customers to generate.”

The AFM CLUSTER General Assembly will take place on 17 May 2019at the Orona Foundation in Hernani. It represents the interests of Advanced Manufacturing in Spain and is made up of four industry associations. It forms part of various international associations, such as CECIMO, ECTA or CEO, and organises trade fairs and international events such as BIEMH; ADDIT3D; INDUSTRY TOOLS; SUBCONTRATACIÓN; WORKIN; BEDIGITAL or the CMH-Congress of Advanced Manufacturing and Machine Tools.


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