In this month’s column, Nigel Flowers, Chairman of the Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMMDA) discusses the latest machinery figures, the uptake of all-electric and what recent world events mean for the UK economy…
The EUROMAP data for the second quarter of 2015 is now in, and shows that the recovery in the demand for injection moulding machines and automation has continued. Automation in particular over the same period shows a 13 percent increase over last year and 24 percent over 2013, with almost half of the machines sold by EUROMAP members being equipped with a robot of some kind. As for moulding machines, the overall market was up by 10 percent compared to prior years, with machines over 10,000kN continuing to be the star performers.
This clearly demonstrates the ongoing success of European car production, however, the adoption of electric technology has continued to stagnate remaining at just below the 20 percent level, which is similar to the last 3-4 years. I think that over the next couple of years machine builders will up their game, and we will see a steady rise in the adoption of electric machines in all segments, driven by developments in machine technology and closing the gap between electric and hydraulic.
Locally, the UK picture is broadly similar with demand for machines and ancillaries remaining strong and it is encouraging to see companies investing in improving production efficiency. It is, however, important that they leverage this investment by continuing to improve skills and capability to ensure that every benefit is squeezed from the investment.
On a global scale Asia (including China), continued to show a strong demand despite the recent poor economic data, which has not yet fed through, but South America has really cooled. The good news is that EU demand remains strong; clearly demonstrating that manufacturing is not afraid to invest.
There are a few clouds on the horizon; institutions such as the EEF have reduced the forecast for manufacturing output by 50 percent and a recent member’s survey highlighted the continuing worries about both the strength of sterling and the possibility of a Eurozone relapse as significant concerns for the months ahead. In terms of interest rates, a key investment driver, there was better news with a majority of members expecting a rate rise sometime in mid-2016.