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Machine Tool Orders Surge in September

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders gained in September as manufacturing recovered from a severe recession.

Orders totaled $373.7 million in September, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today in a monthly report. That was a 26 percent increase from an adjusted $295.6 million in August.

“We are now seeing the economic recovery reach a broader spectrum of the overall capital equipment market,” Douglas K. Woods, president of McLean, Va.-based AMT, said in a statement. “Manufacturing is ramping back up as production, shipments, and order levels continue to improve throughout most sectors.”

The AMT president said output of some products returned to the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, he said, a strong housing market has led to more demand for household appliances “creating backlogs that will keep production lines busy into the winter.”

Manufacturing got slammed early in the year because of plant shutdowns intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Factories in the auto industry reopened in May. Manufacturing has been regaining economic strength since.

September orders, however, did not match the year-earlier figure of $385.9 million. Orders for the first nine months totaled $2.7 billion, 22 percent below the same period in 2019.

The figures are from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

Woods said some sectors remain weak.

“The aerospace and oil & gas sectors, representing almost a third of our industry’s orders, will likely need several years to return to pre-COVID levels of shipments and capital spending,” Woods said.

Aerospace is feeling the impact of lower demand for air travel because of COVID-19. Airlines have canceled or delayed orders for new aircraft. Boeing Co. said last month it will cut more jobs in 2021 to adjust to market changes. The oil & gas sector is coping with lower energy prices.

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