Machine tool orders declined in July but showed signs of stabilizing, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today.
Orders totaled $337.5 million in July, down 1.7 percent from an adjusted $343.5 million the month before, according to a monthly report issued by the McLean, Va.-based group.
The July figure also was 14 percent lower than the $391.4 million in orders for July 2019.
“The manufacturing technology industry seems to be stabilizing, and order growth is more balanced across sectors,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.
“A wide variety of sectors including automotive and medical equipment were positive this month, with the automotive sector being the standout,” Woods added.
The North American auto industry mostly shut down in March in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Automakers and suppliers restarted operations in May with new safety practices in place.
According to AMT, vehicle production expanded from 1,700 in April to 222,000 in July.
“As a result, production has scaled up through the supply chain and is driving manufacturing capital demand,” Woods said.
For the first seven months of the year, orders totaled $2.02 billion. That’s down 25 percent from the same period in 2019.
The figures are from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders program.
COVID-19 has affected manufacturing generally, Within the machine tool industry, business originally had been expected to pick up in the second half of 2020. The coronavirus then hit industries that buy machine tools.
Some economic indicators point to a recovery in manufacturing. The Institute for Supply Management said Sept. 1 that its manufacturing index for August showed that economic growth in manufacturing was accelerating.
"The bottom of the downturn may be near," Woods said.