Despite Year-End Slump, Machine Tool Installations Grew Last Year

Survey Results: Once Again, China Dominates World Consumption 


The countries that produce the world’s machine tools increased their output about 15 percent in 2008, and although orders toward the end of the calendar year became sluggish, the long-term trends of production and consumption continued unabated.

The industrialized countries polled in our annual study of shipments and trade had a total output of almost $82 billion, topping the $71.5 billion those same states built the year before. Japan remains the single largest producer, followed very closely by Germany. China, with its domestic machine producing industry growing at 30 percent last year, is third in output.

More notable is how demand continues to fuel Chinese consumption. A country’s machine tool consumption is calculated by taking its output, subtracting exports and adding in imports. By that measure, China acquired and installed $19.4 billion in 2008, a 20-percent increase compared with the previous year. The second most voracious consumer is Germany, which installed less than $10 billion in machine tools last year (see table, "Top Consumers").

Put another way, the Peoples Republic of China consumed 24 percent of all the machines that were produced around the world, a trend that has continued for the last several years. Back in 2001 China and the other three top machine-tool-consuming countries—the U.S., Germany and Japan—were about even in their installations (see bar chart). Chinese consumption wasn’t affected in the slowdown of 2002-2003, and since then it has zoomed ahead.

The statistics come from the 44th annual "World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey," conducted annually by Gardner Publications, publisher of Production Machining. The survey measures shipments, imports, exports and consumption from major industrialized nations, and it is available in detail at www.gardnerweb.com/consump/survey.html, including analyses such as trade balance.

The U.S. had an increase in consumption of 14 percent for 2008, installing $7.2 billion worth of machine tools. Of the 28 countries in the survey, all but five among the 28 surveyed showed gains in consumption of metalworking factory gear.

Joe Jablonowski is editor of Gardner Publications’ "Metalworking Insiders’ Report" newsletter. www.metalworkinginsider.info.

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