The good order portfolio of the Spanish Machine Tool Sector guarantees strong production activity throughout 2023. Although demand is expected to ebb away over the next six months, incoming orders up to March were similar to 2022.
The Spanish advanced manufacturing and machine-tool technologies sector ended 2022 with closing turnover figures that confirmed the preliminary estimates forecast in January, demonstrating an 8.85 percent increase over the previous year. Despite huge uncertainty and difficulties that have made the year into a real obstacle course for investment in production resources, the good level of incoming orders accumulated throughout 2021 and 2022 has enabled the sector to continue increasing turnover.
The metal cutting machines subsector is showing a somewhat stronger performance, with growth of 18.44 percent, closely followed by metal forming, with almost 10 percent. It is noted that there has been a gradual recovery in the two main sub sectors of the industry. The overall positive performance of the machine-tool customer sectors, particularly the strong surge in the energy sector, the reactivation of the automotive and aeronautics sectors, together with demand from the consumer goods sector and others, has contributed to favorable figures in both subsectors.
In terms of exports, the year ended with an increase of 3.8 percent, marking two consecutive years of growth and reaching €1,288.3 million, practically the same as the record export sales recorded in 2019. The main destinations of Spanish export sales in 2022 were Italy, Germany, US, France, and China. Other countries in the top ten markets are Mexico, Portugal, Turkey, UK, and Poland. Of particular note are the sales numbers for Italy, which has become Spain’s top export sales destination in 2022 for the first time in history, thanks to the schemes promoted by the Italian government to incentivize investment in state-of-the-art production equipment. Other markets that recorded outstanding performances in 2022 were the US (metal forming) and Germany (metal cutting).
José Pérez Berdud, President, AFM Cluster—a group of six industrial associations that represent the interests of advanced and digital manufacturing in Spain—explains: “The truth is, it has been proven once again that our companies are well prepared to navigate extremely complex situations. Our commitment to people, technology, and internationalization has enabled us to overcome the situation caused by the war, supply chain difficulties, extremely high inflation, and the rising cost of financing, among other adverse factors, to close out the year positively overall.”
Incoming orders and 2023 forecast
In 2022, incoming order figures were good for both metal cutting and metal forming in Spain, which regained its stride after several tenuous years. With an 11.28 percent increase in orders throughout the year, the accumulated portfolio means that 2023 has kicked off with a growth in turnover.
This upward trend in incoming orders has continued throughout the first three months of 2023, although at a slightly slower pace. Despite this, Spain has managed to match the incoming orders recorded in the first quarter of 2022. The measures adopted to cool off the economy affect demand and the cost of financing, and this can influence incoming orders and the pace of decision-making, especially for simpler equipment and in the SME setting. The country has, however, detected great dynamism in the larger, more technically complex projects, which are holding steady despite difficulties. In any event, our businesses’ positive order portfolios and the good start to the year suggest that 2023 turnover is set to grow by 5 percent.
Xabier Ortueta, Managing Director, AFM Cluster, adds in this regard: “Making predictions in these turbulent times is not easy, but we are moderately optimistic. We have a robust portfolio, which will help us sustain good levels of activity throughout the year. Keeping up the excellent incoming order rate of 2022 will be complicated, and our prospective analysis is pointing towards a slowdown, at least in the first half of the year. In any event, it's expected to be a temporary slump. The expected stabilization of economic indicators and the positive forecasts in most of the strategic sectors, where we are well positioned, lead us to believe that demand will recover once again in 2024.”
In this context of healthy workloads, it’s crucial that the sector continues to defend its profitability in order to be able to continue investing in the magic formula: “people and innovation to strengthen our competitiveness”.
Drawing talent to the industry proves top sector challenge
As a knowledge sector, well trained people and their talent is the machine-tool sector’s main asset. But the reality is that these are becoming scarce and highly sought-after assets, making it an urgent challenge to convey to society, and particularly to young people, the virtues of a strategic sector for our well-being.
Berdud adds that: “The demographic situation is a factor that can’t be fixed in the short or medium term, and, as a society, we need to get imaginative to change birth rate trends and at the same time make it easier for people with a vocation to work in the industry. Meanwhile, the machine-tool sector should be projected as a highly attractive activity for young people. We have to redirect vocations towards an environment where work is really interesting, highly innovative, and internationalized. The machine tool sector takes care of its people, and working in our sector is associated with a life project that’s well-paid, enriching, and varied.”
Regarding the as yet unequal presence of women in the industry, the President of AFM Cluster remarked, “It is our responsibility to recruit more women in industrial companies. We must be highly proactive in redressing the historical shortfall, generating messages that show the true reality of our industry, and the appeal these jobs can have for women.”
In June, Bilbao (Biscay, Spain) is set to host the country’s main platform dedicated to Smart Manufacturing. From June 6-8, the event will bring together the main new developments and advancements in manufacturing processes and supplies for the industry, including digitalization and robotics, additive manufacturing, equipment for industrial processes, and maintenance. It will be a comprehensive promotional showcase that will foster making the most of sectoral synergies thanks to holding trade fairs for each respective area simultaneously: ADDIT3D, Subcontratación, Bedigital, and WorkINN. To date, nearly 700 exhibiting companies and a host of highly specialized visitors have confirmed their participation.
AFM Cluster will be present, accompanied by their member companies, and will have their own exhibition space shared with a number of their members. Also on the agenda is the 11th Advanced and Digital Manufacturing Conference, a B2B event organized by the AFM Cluster which offers attendees the opportunity to find commercial, technological, or R&D&i partners.
23rd Advanced Manufacturing and Machine Tool Conference
The 23rd edition of the top industry and technology conference will take place in San Sebastian from October 25-27, with a two-fold informative and scientific-technical programme. Almost 500 professionals from the advanced and digital manufacturing sector will come to San Sebastian to get a first-hand look at the most advanced trends in disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, allowing them to discover what the factory of the future will be like and the new business models emerging, the latest advances in robotics and automation, the demands of the most strategic customer sectors, additive manufacturing, the challenges relating to talent and sustainability. A 360-degree overview of connected industry, complete with an exhibition space promoting products and services for advanced manufacturing, including an exciting section on industrial startups.
Image Source: Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Machine Tools, Accessories, Parts and Tools