US manufacturing technology orders dip for 2nd month

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New orders of manufacturing technology totalled $417.5m in June 2022, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report published by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.

June orders were down 5% from May 2022 and declined 16% from June 2021. Through the first half of 2022, manufacturing technology orders have totalled $2.84 billion, a 13% increase over the first half of 2021.

"Being ahead of our best year on record to start 2022 is a good sign for the industry,” said Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT. “That said, we are beginning to see the normal trend of decreased orders through the summer months. IMTS is likely to reverse that trend. September orders in an IMTS year tend to exceed non-IMTS September orders by nearly $180 million. In addition to the immediate 'September effect,' orders following an IMTS tend to remain elevated for the remainder of the year."

Several other hurdles remain in the way of the industry matching the unbounded success of the last year. Supply chain issues continue to plague the industry, causing extended lead times for new equipment. "Typically, shops with an order in hand need to begin making parts and may not be able to wait for new machinery to be delivered,” said Woods. “When making less-complex parts, some of the demand that would normally go toward new machinery is now being redirected to the used market."

Despite these hurdles and an overall decrease in order activity, several industries are increasing orders. “The manufacturers of construction machinery ordered the most new equipment since June of last year,” said Woods. “This is likely in anticipation of additional capacity needs to implement the infrastructure bill which became law last November.”

Interestingly, the value of June 2022 orders was about 14% above the average value of June, but the number of units were down by about 12% from a typical June. “While some of this disparity is surely due to inflation, a much larger share is the addition of automation, which has become ever more necessary to keep production up as the labor market grows tighter,” said Woods.

“Decreasing price points and increasing ease of use has accelerated automation adoption in industries that were typically hesitant to take the plunge. I am expecting to see many of these solutions on display Sept. 12-17 at IMTS in Chicago and expecting a large number of manufacturers to view them as well.”