A recent report funded by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) found that U.S. manufacturers’ new orders of machine tools are more than 40% higher than this time last year. Total orders have risen to $490.3 million this June, which was an 8.9% increase from May and a 41.7% increase over June 2020. The data, which comes from AMT’s monthly U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report (USMTO), also showed that orders for new manufacturing technology rose to $2.509 billion, an increase of 48.6% over the January-June 2020 total.
“The manufacturing technology industry has rebounded from the pandemic-induced recession in a phenomenal way,” said Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT. “The first half of 2021 is only 3% below 2018, when orders were at a two-decade high. Not only has the industry recovered from the 2020 slump, but orders are now exceeding the pre-pandemic trend.”
Woods goes on to explain that there was also a marked increase in orders for manufacturers of metal valves, springs, screws, nuts, bolts and other simple hardware. Woods stated that these low-complexity, high volume parts, which can be shipped within weeks of a machine being delivered, “appears to be an effort by manufacturers to diversify their supply chains in response to the global climate of material and shipping constraints.”
But, this rebound from COVID-19’s effects isn’t just impacting the simple hardware market. Increasing demand for petroleum products has driven the price of crude oil to the highest levels since October 2018, leading oil and gas field equipment manufacturers to dramatically increase their orders. Additionally, medical equipment manufacturers substantially increased their orders, which are up almost 60% compared with the first half of 2020. This is because, while manufacturers were intensely focused on producing PPE and ventilators this time last year, a huge number of elective procedures were postponed. Now that most of the COVID-related manufacturing needs have been fulfilled and case numbers have declined, items produced are shifting back to components required for the considerable number of delayed elective surgeries. According to a paper published at the end of 2020 referenced in the press release, there could be as much as a 36-month backlog in knee and hip replacement surgeries alone. This sustained demand has led to a steady increase in sales of multi-function machines. Wood said that, “The current situation in the medical industry is emblematic of what is happening across the economy. As pandemic restrictions are eased, a massive rebound in demand is putting strain on procedures and generating an economy-wide need for additional manufacturing technology.