VDMA Positive expectations for Germany's precision tools industry

Editor: Barbara Schulz

Germany – The economic impact of the coronavirus has drawn a negative effect on Germany’s precision tools industry in 2020. Nevertheless, manufacturers are confident of being able to achieve a significant increase in sales this year, the German VDMA Precision Tools Association announced at its annual press conference in January.

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EU-27 machine tool exports to China, USA and non-EU Europe | EU-27 as total / Export in 1,000 EUR to All partner countries (Jan 2007 - Oct 2020).
EU-27 machine tool exports to China, USA and non-EU Europe | EU-27 as total / Export in 1,000 EUR to All partner countries (Jan 2007 - Oct 2020).
(Source: VDMA)

Germany's precision tools manufacturers suffered a 23-percent drop in turnover in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic inevitably continues to spread worldwide and break supply chains. However, Stefan Zecha, chairman of the VDMA Precision Tools Association, is confident that demand for cutting tools, clamping technology and toolmaking will increase again this year with a projected production value of 9.4 billion euros. "A positive trend in orders has been noticeable again since November," Zecha said.

Corona came as an accelerator to the fire of a crisis in key customer segments, such as the automotive industry and mechanical engineering, which has already been blazing since 2019. "However, what saved us last year in particular was that our customers can realise productivity gains with new tool concepts without major investments," Zecha said. The original equipment business in 2020 was correspondingly meagre. The export-heavy industry was only able to avoid major losses in the Chinese market. In all other countries, including the domestic market, business declined sharply. In total sales, the precision tools industry lost 2.4 billion euros compared to 2019, and even 3.0 billion euros compared to the best year in 2018.

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Digital knowledge transfer on the rise

The biggest challenge for the precision tools business was the absence of face-to face meetings with customers and trade shows. "That is why the new digital knowledge transfer and contact exchanges, such as the Innovation Forum Precision Tools – IFP 2020 organised by the partners GFE Schmalkalden and VDMA Precision Tools, or the METAV web sessions were gratefully accepted by customers and manufacturers alike," Zecha said. Even the medium-sized, rather conservative sector can no longer avoid the digital transformation process.

VDMA Werkzeugbau 2021 is promoting a trade fair partnership along the value chains to successfully overcome the crisis as part of its interview series on the Fairness Initiative F+. At Moulding Expo, which is scheduled to take place in Stuttgart, Germany from 08 to 11 June 2021, the VDMA' toolmaking division will participate with presentations and focus on production technology. The 14th Schmalkaldener Mould Conference is planned as a face-to-face event for 10 and 11 November 2021.

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