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Machine Tool Orders Decline in May Amid Pandemic

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders fell in May as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) reduced demand among manufacturers.

Orders totaled $219.4 million for the month, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today in a monthly report. That was 5.3 percent lower than the adjusted $213.75 million in April. It was 44.5 percent lower than the $395.1 million for May 2019.

For the first five months of the year, orders totaled $1.32 billion, a 31 percent decline from the same period in 2019. The figures are from companies participating in McLean, Va.-based AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

AMT originally had expected flat demand for the first half of 2020. The decline for the first five months is “due to the impact of the pandemic on the global manufacturing industry,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.

Defense and aerospace performed better in May but the auto industry “is down, and spending on medical supplies has leveled off,” Woods added.

In May, auto plants restarted operations following COVID-19 shutdowns that began in March. The aerospace industry has been affected by lower demand for commercial air travel. Airlines have delayed or canceled aircraft orders.

COVID-19 also caused AMT to cancel the 2020 edition of its IMTS trade show in Chicago. The event, which had been scheduled for September, normally produces a surge in orders for machine tools.

Woods said a rebound in manufacturing may not occur until 2020’s final quarter or early 2021.

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