The trade association for Italian machine-tool, robot, and automation system suppliers reported slower order volume during the fourth quarter of 2018, with a significant decline in domestic orders and a small rise in export demand. The new report from UCIMU-Sistemi per Produrre suggests an end to a sustained period of increasing demand for one of the E.U.’s largest machine-tool sectors.
Overall, UCIMU’s report showed Q4 new orders were -0.2% lower than during the comparable period of 2017. While demand from Italian manufacturers fell -6.3% for the period, foreign manufacturers’ orders grew by 2.4% compared to October-December 2017.
For the full year, UCIMU reported new orders were down -0.8% versus 2017; foreign orders increased 5.2%, and domestic orders declined -11.5%, year-over-year.
"If it is clear that we are experiencing a slowdown phase," the group reported, "it is important to consider the jump of Italian machine tool consumption over the last few years." UCIMU’s order index showed the value of its members’ machine-tool orders increasing steadily since 2011, and more than doubling from 2016 to 2018.
A similar slowing of demand has been apparent in recent order summaries issued by the German Machine Tool Builders Assn. and AMT-the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology.
Massimo Carboniero, UCIMU president, commented: “The data of the fourth quarter 2018 are confirming the feeling and the expectations we already had: the year that has just ended was really positive for the Italian manufacturers, who achieved good results both in Italy and abroad.”