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Machine Tool Orders Fall to Lowest Level in a Decade

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders in April plunged to their lowest level in almost a decade as global economic activity shut down because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today.

Orders totaled $225.8 million for the month, the lowest since May 2010, according to AMT.

That was down 26 percent from an adjusted $306.2 million in March and down 38 percent from $363.1 million for April 2019.

“It should not come as a surprise that April numbers were low given the large-scale shut down of the global economy,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.

“Data confirms that U.S. industrial production dropped lower than during even the Great Depression,” he added.

For the first four months of the year, orders totaled almost $1.1 billion, a decline of 28 percent from $1.53 billion for the same period in 2019. The figures are from data supplied by companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

COVID-19 prompted industrialized countries to reduce economic activity to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Woods said the May figures may improve, with orders from the automotive and aerospace industries. Both industries had COVID-19 plant shutdowns and are restarting operations.

Manufacturing in general is dealing with how to make factory operations safer. COVID-19 has no cure. There are multiple efforts globally to rush development of a vaccine but how quickly one becomes available is uncertain.

AMT said a full-fledged recovery for machine tool orders may not occur soon.

Woods said “2020 will still be a down year” for machine tool orders. “We think it is likely that manufacturing will experience uneven growth for the next several quarters.”

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