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Machine Tool Orders Post Mixed Results in November

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Machine tool orders posted mixed results in November, falling on a monthly basis but recording a small increase from a year earlier.

Orders totaled $330.3 million for November, AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology said today in a monthly report.

That was down 13 percent from an adjusted $381.2 million in October. However, November orders represented a 1.4 percent increase from $325.7 million in November 2019, the first year-over-year increase since January 2019.

For the first 11 months of 2020, orders slid 19 percent to $3.4 billion. The figures are from companies participating in AMT’s U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.

The machine tool industry, like all of manufacturing, in 2020 dealt with disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some machine tool customers, such as the auto industry, restated operations relatively quickly. Others, including aerospace and energy, still are limping along.

The machine tool industry “did not fare as poorly as originally predicted,” Douglas K. Woods, president of McLean, Va.-based AMT, said in a statement. In November, he said, the share of orders from job shops increased.

Woods said he expected that December levels to reflect a softening from November.

“Many facilities closed earlier or for longer than usual for the holidays because of supply-chain related delays, COVID-related staff shortages, and to regroup for 2021 after an overall challenging year,” he said.

AMT said it expects orders to improve starting this month but expansion may be inconsistent. Woods said order activity is likely to improve during 2021.

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