Spanish Machine Tool Sector Hits €2 Billion Turnover Milestone in 2023

José Pérez Berdud, president of AFM Cluster

Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain – The total turnover of the Spanish machine tool sector (machine tools, components, and cutting tools) has reached its record in 2023 after exceeding € 2,000 million in a year that, although it started hesitantly, has shown great dynamism, growing by 17.1 percent over the figure for 2022. By subsectors, machinery grew by 21.5 percent, with forming showing a magnificent performance with an increase of 37.6 percent and reaching € 447 million; and metal cutting also growing with an increase of 15 percent and € 929 million. 

Significant investments in the automotive sector have been the main key to the good performance of metal forming. For metal-cutting, sectors such as energy or aeronautics, among others, have contributed to the growth. Regarding the rest of the subsectors, components and cutting tools have maintained similar figures to those of the previous year, while other machinery and services have grown notably, by 27 percent and 18 percent, respectively. 

Exports stood out with a growth of more than 20 percent and € 1,552 million, in a year in which one of Spain’s main markets, Germany, experienced difficulties. Despite this, the very strong pull of the US and Mexico, and the materialization of the orders achieved in 2022 in Italy, together with China and France, have strongly boosted Spain’s sales abroad. 

Particularly noteworthy is the figure achieved in the US, which, for the first time in years, has become the top destination for Spain’s exports. In exports, the growth of metal forming is very striking, rising by 64 percent compared to its 2022 figure of € 329 million. Metal-cutting, which is more contained, has grown by 13 percent, reaching € 782 million. 

According to José Pérez Berdud, President, AFM Cluster—a group of six industrial associations that represent the interests of advanced and digital manufacturing in Spain—"The sector’s presence at the international level is tangible proof of our competitiveness. In the market niches in which we operate, we occupy very prominent, often leading positions. It is very remarkable that the sophistication, the technological level, the degree of automation, and, consequently, the average price of the equipment we have sold in recent years have grown very significantly. We are getting contracts that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago.” 

Incoming orders 

Orders grew by 12 percent in 2023, following on from the previous year, when it rose by 11 percent, with a strong increase in metal forming (+22.06 percent), and moderate growth in metal cutting (+5.23 percent). As regards the origin of orders, the strength of the US and Mexico, which have broken all their records, should be highlighted. Germany is holding up despite showing some weakness; China, after two very strong years, has lost much of its gains in 2023, and Italy, with the elimination of tax incentives, is returning to the usual figures of the past. Spain, for its part, is growing by 34 percent, although the absolute figure is still insufficient. 

Xabier Ortueta, CEO, AFM Cluster, stated, “In a complicated scenario throughout 2023, we have been able to overcome the drop in orders suffered by some of our neighbors. An atypical mix of markets and client sectors, with unique high-level operations, have enabled us to complete a good year in terms of order intake.”

Forecast for 2024 

The turnover forecast for 2024 is moderately optimistic, considering the interesting order backlog with which Spain closed the 2023 financial year. The country estimates growth of around 5-7 percent. Although order intake is expected to slow down in the first half of the year, industry experts predict a good recovery towards the end of the year. However, in any case, it will be difficult to reach the levels of 2023. 

Ortueta added, “The markets are still convulsed, with some sectors looking very buoyant and others less so. The scenario of high inflation and high interest rates, although it seems to have reached its turning point, does not favor the necessary confidence to invest. Forward-looking analyses suggest that the economy and machine tool orders will continue to slow down until at least the last quarter, after which a full blown recovery is expected by 2025. Let’s hope so.”

BIEMH 2024: Towards an ever more productive, efficient, and automated industry 

The country’s leading industrial event will be held in Bilbao from June 3-7, with excellent expectations on the exhibitor side, with 1,044 confirmed exhibiting firms and more than 2,000 registered products and equipment. Along with machine tools, tools and components, additive manufacturing, metrology, and services for industry, this edition’s focus on sustainable productivity will give special prominence to robotics, automation, and digitalization, essential drivers of the industry of the future.  

Expecting to exceed more than 35,000 visitors in the 2024 edition, the comprehensive exhibition offer will be completed on this occasion with specific activities to promote interaction between exhibitors and visitors through guided tours, networking meetings, and other initiatives, as well as an interesting cycle of conferences, BIEMH Talks, which over three days will address the most topical issues in the field of advanced manufacturing. 

In parallel to the BIEMH, a series of other fairs will also be held, namely: ADDIT3D, a fair dedicated to additive manufacturing; BEDIGITAL, dedicated to the industrial application of digital technologies; and WORKinn Talent Hub, a space dedicated to the promotion of employment opportunities in the industry. 

AFM Cluster in need of industrial talent 

AFM Cluster, Spain’s leading industrial ecosystem, is made up of nearly 800 companies belonging to the advanced and digital manufacturing sector and forms the main and most powerful industrial hub in the country: manufacturers of manufacturing technologies such as machine tools and 3D printing, components and cutting tools, hand tools, machining and metal-mechanical transformation, automation technologies, robotics and industrial digitization, and startups with industrial orientation. 

The world of manufacturing in a large organization that brings it together and represents it. Being a knowledge sector, skilled people and their talent are the essential assets of advanced manufacturing. Given the declining birth rate curve, the association highlights the enormous attractiveness of a sector that offers a vibrant life project, a very good level of remuneration, and challenging professional development in a very interesting international environment. The AFM Cluster President remarked, “We are focused on carrying out multiple activities to attract talented young people who want to join an exciting project that contributes to a more prosperous and sustainable society. We are truly a very interesting environment in which to develop a professional and life project.”

Image Source: AFM Cluster 

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