Machine Tool Orders Dropped +11% in July

Sept. 14, 2014
Tentative demand for manufacturing technology reflected also in year-on-year and year-to-date totals “…an environment ripe for capital investment.” Expecting IMTS boost North Central-East has best regional result
Since September 2012, new orders for machine tools have ranged up and down from roughly $350 million to nearly $500 million per month, but never topping the latter total.

U.S. manufacturers ordered $354.63 million worth of machine tools and related technologies during July, a drop of 11.5% from June’s result and a drop of 1.4% from July 2013. The latest month’s total brings the year-to-date volume of new machine tool orders to $2.7 billion, which is 2.3% lower than the seven-month total for 2013.

All the data is contained in the U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report, a monthly summary of nationwide and regional machine tool orders compiled by the AMT – the Association for Manufacturing Technology. USMTO figures are actual data reported by participating companies, and cover demand for metal-cutting equipment and metal forming and fabricating equipment, both domestically sourced and imported products, with the combined figure representing the monthly total.

“We continue to see manufacturing as a leading player in the U.S. economy,” commented AMT president Douglas K. Woods. “While manufacturing technology orders were down for the month, we believe we are coming into an environment ripe for capital investment.

“With a strong PMI reading in July and a record high for U.S. exports, manufacturing shows no signs of slowing,” Woods continued. “Additionally, as capital equipment is reaching an advanced age and interest rates are continuing to stay low, we believe we will see strong order activity in the months following IMTS.”

IMTS is the bi-annual trade show for machine tools, cutting tools, automation system, design and programming software, and numerous other capital goods and technologies used in machine shops and comparable operations in larger manufacturing organizations.

The previous staging of IMTS in 2012 resulted in a 40.7% monthly increase in machine tool sales, rising to $667.47 million, a total that has not been approached in any month since then. Instead, new order totals have ranged up and down from about $350 million to nearly $500 million per month. 

At the regional level, new order volumes generally mirrored the nationwide results. In the Northeast, manufacturers placed orders worth $50.85 million for metal cutting equipment, 8.0% less than during June, and 30.7% less than during June 2013. (Because of changes among AMT’s survey participants over the past year, year-on-year comparison for Metal Forming and Fabricating is not accurate across all regions, so that some results are not reported and different references are available from region to region.)

For January-July 2014, Northeastern manufacturers have ordered $430.85 million worth of manufacturing technology equipment, which is 8.4% less than during the comparable period of 2013.

In the Southeast, new orders for metal cutting equipment dropped 0.7% from June to July, finishing the month at $30.23 million. The total is 11.6% less than the July 2013 total, and the seven-month result for 2014 is $245.17 million, down 2.4% from the January-July 2013 period.

The North Central-East region had total manufacturing technology orders of $91.30 million during July, down 21.9% from June, but up 10.3% from July 2013. The region’s year-to-date orders total $754.86 million, which is 5.9% higher than the 2013 result for the same seven-month period.

The North Central-West region had new orders for metal cutting equipment totaling $60.37 million during July, which is down 22.7% from June but up 10.3% from July 2013. The region’s 2014 seven-month result for metal cutting equipment is $427.94 million, or 12.6% less than the region’s comparable result for 2013.

The South Central region reported July new orders totaling $65.07 million, up 14.9% from June’s $56.63 million and up 6.9% from the $60.85 million total for July 2013.  Year-to-date orders for the region totaled $434.78 million, 0.3% more than the comparable figure for 2013.

Finally, in the West, orders for metal cutting equipment during July fell 3.3% from June, to $52.31 million. The result represents an improvement of 13.2% from July 2013, and the year-to-date total for metal cutting equipment orders in the region is now $399.88 million, or 2.4% higher than the result for the same period of 2013.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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