April Machine Tool Orders Dropped 17%

June 12, 2012
USMTO report finds year-on-year activity remaining steady

New orders for machine tools and related equipment fell 17% in April, to $410.42 million from $495.97 million in March. The figure halts two straight months of improving sales totals that followed a steep decline in January, and represents the lowest monthly sales total since May 2011 ($398,264). The results are contained in the monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Report (USMTO) collected by AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology. The report, based on actual data, documents sales of domestic and imported machine tools and other products, nationally and regionally.

Despite the decline, the April figure is a 2.9% improvement over the April 2011 sales total ($398,735). Also, the new figure brings the year-to-date sales total to $1,763.77 million, representing a 10.2% improvement for 2012 versus 2011.

“Year-to-date orders of manufacturing technology are up a solid 10% over 2011,” stated AMT President Doug Woods. “Manufacturing firms continue to hire, with year-over-year unemployment down from nearly 10% in 2011 to a little under 7% this year. In the first quarter, U.S. manufacturing technology exports rose consistently and factory productivity increased 5%. What remains to be seen is whether overseas instability and possible cooling of domestic investment will disrupt continued growth.”

April’s decline was reflected in the regional reports, too. In the Northeast, new orders for manufacturing technology products totaled $66.31 million, a decline 7.5% from March ($71.67 million) but still an improvement of 11.8% when compared with the April 2011 figure ($59,325.) The Northeast region’s 2012 year-to-date sales total for manufacturing technology is $248.29 million, a rise of 2.7% compared to the first four months of 2011.

In the South, manufacturing technology orders totaled $50.85 million in April, falling 28.6% from March ($71.24 million) and 1.1% less than the total for April 2011. The regional year-to-date total is $217.96 million, 8.5% better than the January-April 2011 period.

Midwest regional manufacturing technology sales totaled $125.73 million in April, down 16.9% from the March result ($151.29 million) but up 2.9% compared to the April 2011 figure. The Midwest’s four-month total for 2012 is $586.70 million, a 9.1% increase over the comparable figure for 2011.

The Central region’s April manufacturing technology orders totaled $128.96 million, a decline of 14.4% from the March result ($150.59 million) but a 4.2% improvement over the April 2011 total. Year-to-date order totals for the Central region are $540.11 million, 17.3% higher than the total for January-April 2011.

The Western region had manufacturing technology orders totaling $38.57 million in April, a 22.7% decline from March ($49.91 million) and an 8.4% decrease from the April 2011 result. Manufacturing technology orders for January-April totaled $170.70 million in the West, 6.9% over the comparable figure for 2011.

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.)