Posted June 10, 2019

Manufacturing technology orders fall 17.6 percent

U.S. manufacturing technology orders totaled $344.6 million in April 2019, the lowest April reading since 2016 when orders totaled $293.2 million.

April 2019 orders declined 16.5 percent from March 2019 and were down 17.6 percent from April 2018, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report published by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Orders totaled $1.48 billion in the first third of 2019, 11.6 percent short of this point in 2018.

“Competition in the manufacturing technology market for 'standard' products continues to grow in intensity relative to the positive growth seen in engineered solutions,” said Douglas K. Woods, AMT president. “Our members are telling us that the ready availability of products has eliminated the urgency for customers to invest in capital equipment now, while trade issues raise grave concerns about the continued strength of the manufacturing sector in the near future.”

The general downward trend in orders was seen across most industries tracked, but there were several notable exceptions. The aerospace sector grew by modest single digits, while the auto industry grew by more than 30 percent over March levels. The strength of two of the largest manufacturing technology consuming industries was not enough to offset declines in both the contract machining sector and the engines and turbines industry. Orders from the agricultural implement manufacturing industry have been in decline since February 2019, which many analysts attribute to the current tariffs on agricultural goods.

The Southeast region had the largest month-to-month decline of the six regions included in the report, where orders fell by over 25 percent from their March 2019 levels, but year-to-date levels for metal cutting equipment were still 13 percent above the first four months of 2018. The only region to show growth from March levels was North Central-West, where slight declines in order for metal cutting equipment were offset by robust growth in forming and fabricating equipment orders.