The Symop unveils the results of its annual study on sales of machining and forming machines in France over the past year. On the distribution side, machine tool distributors are overtaking the 2012-13 crisis and are moving towards recovery with sales growth of 5.7%. On the manufacturer's side, sales growth also continued with a 7% increase. The outlook for the machine tool therefore remains well oriented for the next few years, including in France, although the growth rate is expected to decrease.
In a buoyant economic climate, machine tool sales were particularly dynamic in 2017, growing by 12% in value and 5.2% in volume. While training machines experienced relatively low volume growth (1.6%), machining machines performed significantly (up 5.5% in volume) after an already favourable 2016. The analysis of machine suppliers reveals an improvement in their profitability over the past 3 years.
This year, connectivity is the watchword of all major manufacturers. The digitization of the production chain allows to follow the strengths and weaknesses of the different stages of the process, and thus optimize the former and to make the necessary corrections in almost real time to the latter. Issues already integrated into the strategy of large groups such as SKF, for whom improving performance requires the development of the digitalisation of production lines at its European sites.
The observed trends are expected to support robust growth in apparent machine tool consumption in 2018, estimated at 9.5%. Indeed, demand in France will be dynamic because driven by a catch-up phenomenon, investment having been shifted due to the economic difficulties of the euro area. Thus, investment is expected to remain dynamic with average growth rates of around 4% by 2020. Demand for machine tools will grow strongly in 2018 (up 7.4%) to return to a level above 4% over the following years. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe's recent announcement on a 40% over-mortgage measure on SME investment in future technologies goes in this direction.