Machine tool orders for August through October reached the highest level in more than 20 years, the Association for Manufacturing Technology said today.
Orders totaled $1.6 billion for that three-month period, McLean, VA-based AMT said in a statement. That was the most since February through April in 1998, according to the group.
The August-October period included the 2018 edition of IMTS. The show, organized by AMT, normally boosts machine tool orders. AMT said the three-month figure demonstrated vitality beyond IMTS.
“The strength of October and August punctuates that the market is buying for current capacity need, not speculation on future business,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in the statement. “Right now, manufacturing technology orders are rapidly expanding without apparent concern for trade issues or evolving market conditions because our customers face enormous opportunities now.”
On a monthly basis, orders cooled in October. Orders totaled $466.59 million for the month, down 24% from the adjusted $608.24 million for IMTS-fueled September. The October figure was 2.1% higher than the $456.86 million for October 2017.
For the first 10 months, orders totaled $4.54 billion, 24% higher than the same period in 2017. The year-earlier 10-month figure was $3.67 billion.
The figures are based on information from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.
Growth in machine tool demand has occurred despite a trade war between the U.S. and China. The two countries have called a temporary truce and plan negotiations to resolve trade disputes.
The machine tool industry has built up a backlog amid growing demand globally, Pat McGibbon, an AMT vice president, said in a video.
Machine tool makers will begin paring backlogs in 2019, McGibbon said. “Orders, while still growing, will not grow at the pace they did in 2018,” he said.
“We’re look at” a 20% gain for 2018 over 2017, he added. “We’re looking at something a lot more modest” for 2019.
AMT expects the 2019 growth percentage rate to be in the “high single digits, low double digits,” McGibbon said. “It will give a chance for producers to catch up with the customer demand for their product.”
The McGibbon video is below.