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Machine Tool Slump to Be ‘More Severe’ Because of COVID-19: AMT

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

An ongoing slump in machine tool orders is worsening because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today.

The McLean, Va.-based trade group also said a recovery will take longer than it previously forecast.

“Before the pandemic hit, we had predicted lower manufacturing technology orders in the first half of the year with a pickup in the second half,” Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT, said in a statement.

“Clearly the downturn will be much more severe than could have been anticipated,” he said. “While we still expect a rebound later this year, this recovery is likely to take an extended period of time to get to pre-crisis levels.”

COVID-19 has shut down production in the aerospace and automotive industries. States have issued stay-at-home orders intended to slow down the spread of the contagious coronavirus. Some industrial production has continued. Automakers, including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., have announced plans to produce protective masks, ventilators and other medical products needed for COVID-19 treatment.

Woods said the pandemic resulted in “cancellations of orders or postponement of expected orders” for machine tools.

“As we progress out of this crisis the manufacturing technology industry will be critical in scaling up the products and equipment our economy needs going forward,” Woods said.

 Woods’ comments were part of AMT’s monthly report on machine tool orders.

AMT said orders totaled $277.9 million in February, before COVID-19’s impact on the economy intensified. That was 3.3 percent better than an adjusted $269.1 million for January. However, it was 16.5 percent lower compared with February 2019’s $332.7 million.

For the first two months of 2020, orders totaled almost $547 million. That’s down 26 percent from $741.4 million for the same period last year.

The figures released by AMT are based on information from companies participating in the organization’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

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