Despite the second lockdown and the associated restrictions, Woodworking Machinery Association (VDMA), Germany, still sees good chances for a rebound in demand and has started 2021 with optimism.
"We still expect a 3% increase in the current year," stated the new chairman of the woodworking machinery trade association, Markus Hüllmann, and confirmed the production forecast in an online press conference. "In view of the many problems caused by Corona, this is quite ambitious."
Hüllmann elaborated on the obstacles encountered in international business, especially when it comes to the delivery of larger machines. "Where our employees cannot travel to assemble and commission, or can only do so under the strictest regulations, we try to use digital tools to enable the operators to take their own measures. Sometimes this succeeds, but often it does not. If the final machinery acceptance at the customer's site does not take place, the revenues are then received with great delay. Without highly flexible and committed employees, nothing works in such a situation," Hüllmann explained.
For the past year 2020, VDMA still assumes a minus of 15% in production. According to figures from the German Federal Statistical Office, the production value during the first three quarters decreased by almost 17% to some Euro 1.9 billion.
"Due to the improved order situation in the 4Q, we are optimistic about our forecast," said Dominik Wolfschütz, market analyst of the VDMA woodworking machinery department. Especially in Germany, order activity had gone up significantly. In addition, selected larger projects and standard machine business were also good. Exports of woodworking machinery fell by 15% from January to November 2020. Only slight declines have been recorded in China, Austria, Brazil and Turkey. In contrast, there were above-average declines in the markets USA, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain.
The currently good capacity utilisation in many sub-segments of the wood and furniture industry is also stimulating their willingness to invest. Examples continue to be the sawmill sector in large parts of Europe, the further processing of sawn timber into products such as glulam (GLT) and cross-laminated timber (CLT), as well as the pellet plant at the sawmill site, which has become commonplace. After many months without almost any order activity, the order volume for equipment suppliers to the wood-based industry has finally returned to a satisfactory level thanks to orders from China and Turkey. Additionally, new markets such as North Africa have picked up. Manufacturers of wood fibre insulation panels have also placed some orders.
In the secondary sector, the construction-related segments are scoring particularly well: the window and door industry is investing, in the furniture industry the kitchen manufacturers are standing out. The carpentry and joinery trades also continue to buy new machines and tools.
VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau, German Engineering Federation) represents 3300 German and European mechanical and plant engineering companies.