World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey Results, 2009

If you pared your purchases of new production equipment last year, you were not alone.

If you pared your purchases of new production equipment last year, you were not alone. As the Great Recession spread globally, users in every manufacturing country in the world made a smaller investment in new machine tools during 2009 compared with that in 2008.

Some nations’ declines were worse than others. Taiwan’s consumption of new machine tools fell 66 percent compared with the year before; the Czech Republic declined 62 percent; and Japanese factories installed only $3.32 billion, representing a 61-percent downturn. In contrast, Chinese manufacturers consumed only slightly less than in 2008—less than 1 percent less—cementing China’s now 7-year lead as the world’s largest market for machine tools.

The statistics come from the 45th annual World Machine Tool Output & Consumption Survey, conducted annually by Gardner Publications Inc., publisher of Production Machining. The WMTO&CS measures shipments, imports, exports and consumption from 28 major industrialized nations, and it is available online in detail(, including analyses such as trade balance.

Consumption is measured by taking a country’s domestic production, adding in imports and subtracting exports. The balance is called apparent consumption and represents the amount that actually was installed as opposed to ordered for future delivery. The United States produced $2.32 billion in new machines in 2009, imported another $2.26 billion, and exported $1.21 billion, for a consumption of $3.37 billion. That figure is less than half of America’s 2008 machine tool consumption of 6.92 billion and puts the U.S. at number three in the world, behind China and Germany (see Top Consumers table).

Of course, leading consumer China has the largest population in the world—1.3 billion. This leads to an interesting metric relating to machinery installations: per capita consumption. By that measure, China spent about $16.50 for each resident on new machine tools last year, putting it at number 17 in the per capita ranking. Switzerland leads the world with an expenditure of $113 per capita, followed by Austria ($76), Germany ($66), South Korea ($53) and Italy ($47). Rounding out the top ten in what some regard as a measure of “equipment intensity” are Belgium, Taiwan, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Finland. The United States last year came in at number 22 on the per capita consumption list.

In terms of production of machine tools, Japan, which has led the world in output for 22 of the last 25 years, experienced a 59-percent decline in shipments and dropped to third place as domestic demand collapsed and as many Japanese-owned builders shifted production abroad, especially to their factories in China (see Top Producers table).

Not only Japanese, but also Taiwanese, German and American builders shifted more of their machine tool production to their Chinese plants, closer to the world’s largest market. Moreover, domestic Chinese builders themselves have been feeling the internal demand, and even if some of them have products that are not yet competitive in world-class arenas, their expansions, nevertheless, have been dizzying. With an increase of 7 percent in a year in which all others have declined drastically, China becomes the leading producer of machine tools as well as the number one customer.

The U.S. showed a decline of 41 percent in output last year. Machine tool output for the 28 countries in our survey was $54.8 billion in 2009. That represents a 32-percent drop from the $81.3 billion that was produced in 2008.

Joe Jablonowski is editor of Gardner Publications’ Metalworking
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