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Close view of CNC machine.

Machine Tool Orders Strong but Slower

Dec. 13, 2021
Demand for new capital equipment is up +52.3% YTD, but machine shops and other manufacturers still face rising material, component, and transportation costs, and customers resisting price increases.

U.S. machine shops and other manufacturers booked $571.5 million worth of new capital equipment during October, -3.6% less than during September, the first decline in three months for the U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders. Even so, the new figure represents a 50.2% rise over the October 2020 new-order volume and brings the 10-month total for new orders to $4.67 billion, a +52.3% increase over the January-October 2020 total.

According to AMT-the Assn. for Manufacturing Technology, the current level of new orders signals a start of manufacturers reinvesting in domestic production and supply chains.

The monthly USMTO report issued by AMT summarizes machine shops’ capital investments in new machine tools. The nationwide and regional data summarizing new orders of metal-cutting and metal-forming and -fabricating machinery – presented in actual dollar values – serves as a forward-looking indicator of overall manufacturing activity.

AMT called USMTO market growth “outstanding … particularly exciting because the critical component producers and industries hit hard by offshoring in the 1990s are driving this expansion through dramatic investments to expand U.S.-based capacity. These industries increased capital expenditure investment by multiples of previous years, far exceeding October’s market mean of 53%.”

“The manufacturing technology market is flourishing in the current economic environment. Unfortunately, the impact on the bottom line isn’t as significant,” stated AMT president Douglas K. Woods. “Our members are caught between higher material, component, and transportation costs and a customer base that is resisting price increases.”

Woods continued: “This is an issue that will only grow worse if Federal Reserve actions this winter lead to higher interest rates. I believe it would be counterproductive to tighten monetary policies and raise the cost of expanding capacity at a time when our nation is experiencing an unparalleled supply chain disruption.”

October regional order totals were notably strong in the Southeast, where manufacturers’ orders of new metal-cutting machines totaled $82.77 million, +30.0% above the September total and +86.1% above the October 2020 total. The regional YTD total for October rose to $535.9 million, a 24.4% increased.

None of the five other regions reported order increases for October.

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