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Latest Machine Tool Orders Show Manufacturing Still Expanding

Sept. 11, 2017
New orders for machine tools totaled $319.7 million, prompting AMT to observe, the “July rate of increase is a notable acceleration in growth relative to the 10% increase in June orders posted over the previous year.”

New orders for machine tools totaled $319.7 million during July according to the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology, proof of continuing growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The total value is well below the June new-order value (-19.3%) but continues to outpace the year-ago (+22.7%) and year-to-date (+10.1) values. “The July rate of increase is a notable acceleration in growth relative to the 10% increase in June orders posted over the previous year,” AMT commented.

“It is encouraging to see the U.S. manufacturing markets and economy improving, especially when the European and Asian markets are not doing as well,” stated Doug Woods. “AMT is excited about the prospects for 2017 and the possibilities in 2018, particularly if Washington takes steps to address tax reform and infrastructure spending.”

The figures are reported by AMT each month in its U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report, an account of actual totals for machine tool sales, nationwide and in six regions.  The figures are reported by participating companies that produce and distribute metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating equipment, including domestically manufactured and imported machinery and equipment.

AMT noted that the manufacturing recovery began to be evident in March of this year, after a decline in manufacturing expansion that stretched back to 2014.

As for the June-to-July decline, AMT noted that July orders typically fall about 15% from the previous month. 
“AMT members noted the marked difference in the start of this summer season,” according to Pat McGibbon, AMT v.p. of Strategic Analytics. “Usually quotations and leads start to slow in the summer but that has not been the case in 2017.”

As evidence, AMT described “several large projects converted mature quotations into major orders, with bundled add-ons such as special tooling and automation.

“The contract machine shop sector, where companies typically buy one or two machines at a time, was one of the stronger markets in July, representing 41% of all the units ordered in July and 32% of the total July dollar value,” according to the association.

Orders from the defense sector and for medical and agricultural equipment were notably stronger during July.

The results from the respective regions (declining in the Southeast, but stronger in the Northeast) give a closer indication of the trends at work in industrial activity.

New orders for metal-cutting equipment in the Northeast region during July totaled $67.30 million, 15.3% more than during June and 34.6% than during July 2016. Through the first seven months of 2017, the Northeast region’s total machine-tool orders value is $415.37 million, or 7.0% less than last year’s January-July total.

The Southeast region reported July new orders for metal-cutting equipment totaling $35.38 million, 30.2% less than during June and 19.2% less than during July 2016. The region’s year-to-date total value for new orders of all machine tools is $300.00 million, or a 6.7% rise over last year’s comparable total.

In the North Central-East region, total machine-tool new orders during July were valued at $87.55 million, 24.4% less than the June figure and yet 67.4% more than the July 2016 figure. The region’s YTD new orders for metal-cutting equipment are valued at $574.14 million, which is 12.1% higher than the comparable January-July 2016 report.

Total U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders through July 2017 continue to expand year-over-year and year-to-date.

The North Central-West region had new orders for metal-cutting equipment totaling $51.01 million during July, down 27.6% from the June report and still up 3.9% compared to the July 2016 report. The year-to-date total for metal-cutting equipment orders in the region is $406.97 million, which is 5.2% higher than the seven-month total for 2016.   

The South Central region’s July new-order total for metal-cutting equipment was $24.14 million, 17.7% less than the June total but still 71.1% higher than the July 2016 figure. The region how has totaled new orders worth $210.49 million for metal-cutting equipment during the first seven months of this year, an increase of 61.8% over last year’s comparable figure.

Finally, in the West region new orders for metal-cutting equipment during July total $49.88 million, down 24.6% from June but up 22.4% from July 2016. The West region’s total for all machine-tool new orders through seven months of 2017 is $432.65 million, a 17.4% improvement over the comparable period of 2016.

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