Stefan Zecha, Chairman of the Precision Tools Association of the VDMA
Stefan Zecha, Chairman of the Precision Tools Association of the VDMA Source: VDMA

A decline in 2019 and no expected increase in 2020. In a recent press conference held by the VDMA, a look back at 2019 and towards 2020 emphasised the difficult circumstances the industry faces.

“Last year, production by German precision tool manufacturers fell by an average of 7 %,” Stefan Zecha, Chairman of the Precision Tools Association of the VDMA, announced at recent press conference in Frankfurt, adding:

“According to initial projections, we are assuming a production value of around 10.4 billion euro.”

Trade conflicts and the resulting economic slowdown did not leave the precision tool industry unaffected in 2019. The manufacturers of cutting tools were the least affected, with a drop in sales of around 4 % compared to the other sub-sectors, followed by tool manufacturing with minus 8 % and clamping tools with a 9 % loss. The fact that the declines were not even greater is due to the fact that precision tools are in demand especially in economically difficult times, because they allow productivity gains without major investments.

The German and Chinese markets in particular developed much worse than expected. Business in the USA also remained below the previous year’s level overall, even though cutting tools and clamping tools sold more tools there. The two main customer sectors, automotive and mechanical engineering, sold fewer tools overall in 2019 than a year earlier.

The first signs from the automotive industry that production could increase again in the course of the year and stabilise demand for tools are highly welcome. However, this will probably not be enough to prevent a further decline in production in 2020.

This year, the VDMA Toolmaking Association, together with its partner GKV/Tec Part, is planning a campaign for the use of fair standard contracts as part of the Fairness Initiative. At Metav 10 – 13 March in Düsseldorf, the conceptual sponsor VDMA Precision Tools will not only be present with a joint stand, but will also organise a clamping technology forum on 11 March 2020 under the title “Clamping technology — solutions for megatrends”. The trade association will use the AMB from 15 – 19 September in Stuttgart for a technology forum on its own stand.