Industry Market Trends
Manufacturing Tech Demand up in March
May 15, 2012
Orders for machine tools and related equipment among U.S. manufacturers increased between February and March, although total demand was lower than in the same period last year. The total value of manufacturing technology orders by United States manufacturers climbed to $495.97 million in March, up 11.3 percent from February, according to the U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report (USMTO) this week. Despite the month-over-month gain, March orders were down 1.4 percent from the $502.89 million total reported for March 2011. With a year-to-date total of $1.36 billion, the value of manufacturing technology orders so far in 2012 is 12.9 percent higher than in the same period last year. Based on data from member companies of the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), which merged with the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association in March, the USMTO report provides regional and national consumption data for machine tools and related equipment. Demand for manufacturing technology increased on a month-to-month basis in four of the five major U.S. regions tracked by the USMTO, and increased year-over-year in three of the regions. The largest month-over-month gain was in the Northeast, where manufacturing tech orders rose to $71.8 million in March, 34.2 percent higher than in February but 7.4 percent below the March 2011 total. So far this year, manufacturing tech consumption in the Northeast has reached $182.11 million, 0.2 percent less than in the same period in 2011. Machine tool orders in the South increased to $71.24 million in March, up 34 percent from February and 16.1 percent above the March 2011 total. The South's year-to-date consumption total of $167.11 million was 11.7 percent higher than the comparable figure last year. With a total value of $51.15 million, machine tech orders in the Western region were up 23.3 percent from February and 8.6 percent from March 2011. In addition, the year-to-date total of $133.46 million was 13.6 percent above the total for the same period last year. In the Central region, the value of machine tech orders rose to $149.39 million in March, a 13.9 percent increase over February and a 17.8 percent increase over March 2011. So far in 2012, manufacturers in the Central region have ordered $410.82 million worth of machine tools, 22 percent more than in the same period last year. The Midwest was the only region that saw a month-over-month decline in manufacturing tech demand, with orders falling 8.4 percent to $152.39 million in March. The total was also 19.8 percent below the March 2011 level. However, the year-to-date consumption total of $463.2 million remained 11.5 percent above the total for the first three months of 2011. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the total value of new machinery orders fell slightly from $33.6 billion in February to $32.9 billion in March, a 1.9 percent decline, led by a 47.3 percent drop in mining, oil field and gas field machinery. The largest gain in March was a 24.5 percent increase in orders for turbines, generators and other power transmission equipment. So far this year, the total value of U.S. machinery orders is $100.3 billion, 10.4 percent above the prior-year level. Meanwhile, machinery shipments have risen, climbing to $32.9 billion in March from $30.9 billion in February, a 6.5 percent gain. The year-to-date total for machinery shipments rose to $36.8 billion in March, up 13.1 percent from the same period in 2011. "Manufacturing is expanding with no clear signal of a downturn in sight," AMT President Douglas K. Woods, said. "Manufacturing added 34,000 jobs in March, capacity utilization is just shy of 80 percent and USMTO order growth confounds experts as it climbed 12 percent over 2011 levels. However, remaining obstacles to future manufacturing investment include a lack of access to credit, global supply issues, encroaching industry regulations and taxes and overall political uncertainty."