Manufacturing technology orders in September continued their upward trend, ending the third quarter on a strong note. According to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report, bookings for September 2017 were up 6 percent from August and posted a year-to-date figure 5 percent higher than the first nine months of 2016. The monthly total of $403 million fell short of September 2016 by 26 percent, a typical drop-off in odd-numbered years when IMTS, the largest manufacturing technology show in the Americas, does not occur.
The rough edges of the recovery continued to expose themselves. Aerospace and medical equipment, chief contributors to new capital equipment investment over the past eight months, were down 26 percent and 40 percent respectively from August. Order activity from the automotive industry had been weak during the third quarter but rose 11 percent in September, surprising some analysts who had expected auto orders to remain weak till December.
“While there is recovery in market conditions for manufacturing technology, it’s at a more gradual pace than typically seen due to a sentiment of caution around manufacturing,” said Doug Woods, President of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. “Manufacturers are concerned about Washington’s impact on economic growth and pace of technological change, as well as the general evolution in technology. It is necessary for companies to invest in current technologies to stay competitive, but they’re doing so at a moderate pace.”
Regionally, the North Central West, Southeast and Northeast regions as reported by USMTO benefited from strong activity in contract machining shops, forging and stamping, automotive, and consumer electronics. Notably, orders from the consumer electronics and computers sector were up 132 percent nationally. The West region also saw gains in September, driven by contract machining shops and regional activity in aerospace.
The key leading indicators for manufacturing technology are positive and AMT analysis suggests an acceleration in order activity at the close of 2017.