CECIMO, the coalition of European machine-tool manufacturing associations, issued a forecast for 7-9% sectoral expansion in 2018, “as orders do not indicate a slowdown in sales.” Noting that EU machine tool builders posted 2017 new orders rose to €26 billion, that would put 2018 net revenues in the range of €27.8 billion to €28.3 billion.
Incidentally, the EU machine tool builders’ 2017 totals exceeded the estimate presented by CECIMO last November, when it reported the year’s net revenues would be €24.4 billion. That represented a turnaround from the previous year’s net decline in revenue, and represented a 33% share of the global machine-tool market for 2017.
CECIMO is a Brussels-based union of trade associations for over 1,500 companies across the European Union, companies who are responsible for 97% of machine-tool production in the 28-nation region. The results and economic forecast were released as part of the group’s annual meeting.
The basis of its bullish outlook is that demand for capital equipment is “at record-high levels,” according to the group’s statement “and we have been seeing clear signs of sustained global manufacturing momentum at the beginning of 2018. Industrial strength is finally expanding beyond Germany, and our forecasts suggest a 3.9% gain in global industrial output in 2018 and 3.7% in 2019.”
The group’s member companies rely heavily on exports of machine tools to other regions (China and the U.S., in particular) and it noted that “increasing foreign orders point to a continuous improvement in machine tool exports in 2018.”
It cautioned that the U.S. “is a great source of uncertainty in foreign policy and international trade, potentially having a significant impact on our businesses, but markets are yet to react. Brexit is also posing additional risks to exporters.”
CECIMO members also debated the European Commission’s recent policy proposals on Artifficial Intelligence standards, which set out a three-part recommendation of investment targets, preparations for socio-economic changes, and ethical standards.
CECIMO endorsed the EC proposal as “a positive step towards the creation of an open environment to stimulate investments in AI and keep the EU at the forefront.”
The group also supported the EU initiative to increase investments in AI research and innovation by at least €20 billion through 2020. “We need a systematic approach to innovation, research policy and investments in AI, in order to boost the EU's technological and industrial capacity across the economy,” it stated.
“The machine tool sector is going through a rapid digital transformation. The industry is developing and investing in new business models together with customers. For manufacturers to ‘future-proof’ their factories, technology, processes and people should be equipped and empowered to face the upcoming challenges and stay ahead of the competition,” stated CECIMO director general Filip Geerts.