AMB Show German precision tool industry expects additional boost from AMB

Author / Editor: Barbara Schulz / Barbara Schulz

Germany – The German precision tool industry is flying high. Last year, the industry again grew by 3% to achieve the record production value of €9.6bn. The precision tool manufacturers expect another boost from AMB and want to continue the upward trend at a moderate pace.

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"We assume that the German precision tool industry will increase its overall production by around 4%," said Lothar Horn, president of the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) at the start of the year. Half-way through the year, his forecast seems to be confirmed.
"We assume that the German precision tool industry will increase its overall production by around 4%," said Lothar Horn, president of the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) at the start of the year. Half-way through the year, his forecast seems to be confirmed.
(Photo: KD Busch.com)

More than 90,000 visitors and over 1,300 exhibitors are expected at AMB 2016 in Stuttgart, the place to be for manufacturers in September. Of course, numerous high-profile precision tool manufacturers will be present, and according to the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), most are expecting another boost for their industry and even anticipate a new production record in 2016.

"We assume that the German precision tool industry will increase its overall production by around 4%," said Lothar Horn, president of the Precision Tools Association in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) at the start of the year. Half-way through the year, his forecast seems to be confirmed. However, the growth is very unevenly spread over the sub-sectors. For the two sectors represented at AMB, cutting tools and chucking tools, a moderate growth rate of around 2% still applies. Horn explains this with the equally cautious expectations on the part of the most important client sectors, the automotive and the mechanical engineering industries. However, there would again be a production record. Despite increasing automation, the number of employees is also expected to increase again in 2016.

Much rather, the companies' problem is to find urgently required personnel. Markus Heseding, director of VDMA Precision Tools, explains: "The overwhelming majority of our members currently would like to increase their personnel but cannot find enough specialists. Furthermore, it is increasingly difficult for companies to train sufficient young people in order to be able to grow further." Automation should therefore in no way result in a reduction of personnel, but only compensate at least in part for the shortage. Moreover, in order to continue to play a leading international role in future too, German manufacturers would still "continually invest a large portion of their profits in research and development." In this way, they want to maintain and further strengthen their technological lead. "This year too, we expect to get a strong business boost from this trade fair," Heseding said.

Lack of specialised staff is a brake on growth

Association forecasts are, of course, always only average values, from which the specific figures for individual manufacturers can differ significantly. This is confirmed by a survey of AMB exhibitors. For instance, Hahn+Kolb Werkzeuge (booth 1A33) agrees with the association's cautious forecast. The reasons are ailing business areas such as metallurgy or the oil and gas industry. Hans-Jürgen Büchner, managing director of Iscar Germany (booth 1E31), is also satisfied: "With the exception of the original equipment business and the negative development in the oil and gas extraction industry, growth in turnover is currently satisfactory."

Significant regional fluctuations in a barely growing market are noted by the MD of the Komet Group, Dr Christof Bönsch (booth 1B12): "In China and also in the US, we can see a cooling off, and even the automotive sector, the former engine for growth, is stuttering." He hopes to gain vitalising impetus from AMB.

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