Industry stats point to a manufacturing revival

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81% jump in Canadian machine tool orders; record breaking attendance at fabricating show

By Shop MT staff

While uncertainty continues to hover over the global economy, North America’s manufacturing sector seems to be bucking the trend with the latest industry figures pointing to a strong rebound.

“Overall, our industry has recorded a spectacular increase in purchase orders of 81 per cent,” noted Frank Haydar, president of the Canadian Machine Tool Distributors’Association and president of Elliott Matsuura Canada, Oakville, ON, during the association’s Annual General Meeting.

Frank Haydar, CMTDA president

Frank Haydar, CMTDA president: “spectacular increase in purchase orders of 81%.”

Machine too purchases among CMTDA members were up in all categories in the first three quarters of 2011 over the same period in 2010. CNC metal cutting orders were up 72 per cent, while manual metal cutting orders increased 49 per cent. The biggest increase was among metal forming/fabricating purchases, up a healthy 155 per cent over last year, followed by manual metal forming purchases which increased 44 per cent.

The improving outlook isn’t just in Canada though; it’s a North American-wide rebound that was also reflected at the recent FABTECH 2011, the continent’s largest metal fabrication trade show, held in Chicago, IL, November 14-17. Attendance hit a historic high with 35,457 attendees (from more than 80 countries), a 35 per cent increase from 2009, the last time the show was held in Chicago. The event featured more than 1,300 exhibitors that filled a record 522,000 net sq ft.

Many long-time exhibitors described FABTECH 2011 as their best show ever.

“We’ve been exhibiting at FABTECH for at least 20 years, and in my 10-year tenure, this show was our busiest. We received a record number of leads, and we were able to get our message in front of thousands,” reportedf Betsy Van Duyne, marketing manager, Hypertherm, Inc. “The results from this show should prove to skeptics that manufacturing is alive and well in North America.”

FABTECH 2011 in Chicago, IL.

The Canadian manufacturing sector continues to face challenges to remain competitive, but it’s moving in the right direction, noted CMTDA’s president Frank Haydar.

“The high value of the Canadian dollar, when historically compared with the American currency, has negatively impacted Canadian manufacturers, who are our customers. On the bright side, in a bid to slash costs and to fight more efficient global rivals, Canadian manufacturers are finally investing – or seriously considering to invest – in new equipment. This underscores the challenges facing the Canadian manufacturing sector that can no longer rely on a weak Canadian dollar to compensate for reduced productivity.”

One of the results of a decades-long low Canadian dollar has been that manufacturers in this country have made gains in the global market “without investing in more efficient technology,” added Haydar. “Now that our dollar hovers around parity with the US dollar, Canadian manufacturing companies are struggling to balance the productivity gap between Canada and the US by investing in new machinery.”

Today, Canadian manufacturers understand better the need to invest in technology to survive, grow and remain competitive in the global market.

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