German foundry machinery manufacturers completed 2016 with a slight fall of 2 percent in sales. In 2015, the sector had already reported a single-digit decline (minus 6 percent). The outlook for 2017 is brighter as the total average value of order books was up by 18 percent at the end of 2016, compared with 2015. More orders came especially from the non-euro countries (plus 37 percent). In line with the positive outlook, the production volume in this sector was about 5 percent above the figure for 2015, at €1,133 million
“The current economic situation survey of the VDMA Foundry Machinery specialist association confirms the upward trend indicated by statistics. The sector is cautiously optimistic for 2017 and expects sales to grow in the single-digit range. A rise of up to 8 percent would appear possible. The most optimistic manufacturers are suppliers in segments closely related to the automotive industry, with the main focus on non-ferrous metal castings for lightweight components,” said Dr. Timo Würz, Managing Director of the VDMA Foundry Machinery specialist association
German foundry machinery export business bucks downward trend in 2016
The five largest supplier countries for foundry machinery – Italy, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea – recorded a decline of 11 percent in exports last year. Worldwide, trade in the sector fell by more than 13 percent in 2016*.
In this environment, German foundry machinery exports rose by almost 2 percent in 2016. German exports indicated by customs statistics for 2016 reached €160 million **. While exports to China experienced a severe decline (minus 31 percent) from a very high level, there was above-average growth especially in exports to Sweden, at plus 173 percent, and the USA (plus 76 percent). There was also an upturn in exports to the EU28 (plus 11 percent).
After China (€24 million), Sweden (€19 million) and the USA (€16 million), Poland was the fourth-largest customer country for foundry machinery from Germany, with an above-average value of almost €10 million (plus 25 percent). On the other hand, there was a fall in exports to a number of traditionally strong trading partners such as the United Kingdom, Italy and France – an exception was Spain, with a rise of 46 percent.
In contrast, exports to Russia in 2016 (plus 135 percent) and Turkey (plus 189 percent) more than doubled compared with the previous year.
Upward trend in aluminium castings for the automotive industry continues
Growth in non-ferrous metal castings continued, not only in Germany. Worldwide, the production of non-ferrous metal foundries has risen over the past few years, while there have been repeated declines in iron and steel casting production, though these still account for the largest part of total production. With reference to the major customer segments, this trend has been driven by developments in vehicle and machinery production.
A comparison of the latest world casting production survey (published in the December 2016 issue of “Modern Casting”) with the figures for 2015 shows worldwide stagnation in casting production (minus 1 percent). Especially stagnating values from China, the USA and Germany have an effect. Asia now accounts for two-thirds of global casting production.
“Stagnation in traditional markets characterizes the current situation with respect to industry expectations. Foundry machinery manufacturers continue to face a large number of questions concerning possible risks to political and economic stability. This is especially the case since the expansion of a local presence is essential for further growth, not only for companies in the sector but also for the industries which use their products,” explained Würz.