After 10 long years of growth, the sales boom for the woodworking machinery industry is coming to an end this year. In addition to the economic slowdown already indicated in 2019, the corona pandemic acts as a significant brake. By September 2020, around 20 percent less orders are on the books than in the previous year. „The pandemic has put an additional damper on those customer industries that were also previously in an economic downturn. However, we are also observing that some customer segments such as the small shop businesses, the sawmilling industry and the further processing businesses in the construction-related sector are still investing in times of the Corona crisis,“ explains Pekka Paasivaara, Chairman of the VDMA Woodworking Machinery Association, at the virtual general assembly.
For 2021, VDMA expects a slight recovery with an increase of 3 percent, despite all the restrictions that must be made at present to make a forecast meaningful. The level will thus remain well below that of previous years.
Foreign trade with losses
In the first eight months of the current year, the export value of German woodworking machinery fell by 15 percent year-on-year to 1.3 billion euros. Among the top-10 export destinations, only Austria, Brazil and Lithuania were able to increase their exports. In the case of the latter two, the increase is the result of deliveries of individual large-scale plants. The two most important markets, China and the USA, suffered above-average losses of 18 and 42 percent respectively. The Chinese market is currently showing encouraging signs of recovery. This will have a positive impact on export figures in the coming months. In the same period, German imports fell by 7 percent to 360 million euros. Of the most important supplier countries, only China was able to increase its imports by 11 percent to 114 million euros.
In these challenging times, further investments are being made in future viability of the machinery industry. OPC-UA as the world language of production is being driven forward at full speed, as is the digitised exchange of data between tooling and machine.
Even if climate change is not currently at the top of the political agenda, the topic will pick up speed again. „It is a breakthrough for our customer industries and thus also for us machine suppliers that wood as a construction material is now receiving the recognition it deserves at all political levels. The positive contribution that wood as a renewable raw material can make to reducing the CO2-footprint, especially in the field of sustainable construction, is enormous. The woodworking machinery industry will do everything in its power to further develop this topic. So, we can look ahead optimistically“, Paasivaara sums up.