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Metallurgical machinery from Germany - for a sustained improvement in productivity

01.06.2016 | id:13622936

In view of international competition in segments which are customers for metallurgical machinery, global efforts to improve industrial productivity are developing dynamically. Plant operators are opting for energy-efficient and resource-efficient technologies in this context. Demand for state-of-the-art equipment is expected to grow in the metal processing sectors over the next few years. Although there are severely divergent developments in the steel and non-ferrous metal sectors, further investments are expected especially in emerging economies, where operators are striving to produce goods economically for export in the context of international competition. Industrial expansion calls for a powerfully innovative technology base. It is here that German machinery producers can contribute their comprehensive know-how and their development capabilities with respect to quality, productivity, efficiency and safety.

“In 2015, global deliveries by companies in the German metallurgical machinery sectors reached more than €2.5 billion. The VDMA member companies from the foundry machinery, metallurgical plants and rolling mills, and the thermo processing equipment sectors that are exhibiting at Metal + Metallurgy China bring innovative visions to life“, comments Dr Timo Würz, Managing Director of the VDMA specialist associations concerned.

Foundry Machinery – continued upturn in high-efficiency equipment

Estimates by the specialist association indicate that German foundry machinery production in 2015 stayed slightly below 2014 level which was at more than €1 billion.

In 2015, global exports by German foundry machinery manufacturers reached €157 million*, representing a rise of 4 percent over the previous year. Germany therefore remains one of the five most important suppliers. In 2014, world trade in the sector stayed at € 2.3 billion, with Japan, China, Italy, Germany and the Republic of Korea accounting for a share of almost 65 percent.

In 2015, German foundry machinery exports to China decreased by 3 percent (€35 million). Nevertheless, China accounted for more than a fifth of total German foundry machinery exports. Exports to the EU 28 countries were significantly above the previous year’s figure (plus 25 percent), with increases mainly in Northern and Eastern Europe. Growth of deliveries to Mexico was particularly high with plus 189 percent. Sales to India and to Russia remained below average.

As further positive developments are expected in the automobile industry in Europe, German suppliers to customers in this sector can look forward to further orders in 2016. In particular, it is expected that the share of aluminium castings will continue to increase.

Technological developments in the sectors concerned will be the key factor in the future success and competitiveness of metallurgical machinery producers in Germany. As regards foundry machinery, the following trends must be emphasized:

  • Energy and resource efficiency
  • Increasingly close tolerances combined with increasing complexity of castings; simulation-based analysis and process optimization will become increasingly important
  • Enabler technologies for lightweight design, increased use of non-ferrous metals and structural components ‚
  • Continuous process networking (Industry 4.0).

Metallurgical Plants and Rolling Mills – innovations for efficiency and sustainability

Estimates by the specialist association indicate that German production of metallurgical plant and rolling mill equipment fell by about 15 percent in 2015 but might still exceed the threshold of €1 billion. With low commodity prices and oversupply in quite a number of sectors the number of large-scale projects worldwide decreased considerably and a quick turnaround of this trend is not to be expected.

In 2015, German manufacturers of metallurgical plant and rolling mill equipment exported equipment with a value of slightly more than €740 million** (minus 6 percent) to customers throughout the world. China is expected to remain the largest supplier of the sector in 2015 with an export value of almost €1.1 billion. Germany remains the third largest exporter. In 2014, world trade had reached a total volume of over €5.4 billion with the major supplier countries of China, Italy, Germany, Japan and the USA accounting for almost 65 percent of this figure.

German exports of metallurgical plant and rolling mill equipment to China rose by 14 percent in 2015. German manufacturers’ trade with the USA stayed at a high level and deliveries to the EU 28 countries were up by more than 12 percent. In particular, exports to Spain more than doubled. Russia remained the third largest market for German metallurgical equipment despite a decrease in exports of 14 percent. In 2015, the Republic of Korea was the fourth largest market for German equipment of the sector with a value of €34 million (plus 62 percent).

The key technological trends in the sector include:

  • New developments in the field of casting and continuous casting
  • Process and plant technology for new high-performance material grades
  • Energy- and resource-efficient plants and processes, recycling and sustainable waste management
  • Networked plant automation.

Thermo Process Technology – modest growth expected in a difficult environment

In 2015, German production in the thermo process technology sector remained at about the same level as in 2014 at a value of over €1.2 billion. Sales to markets outside Europe increased whereas trade in Europe remained subdued.

In 2015, German manufacturers in the thermo process technology sector supplied industrial furnaces, burners and firing systems with a total value of more than €1.6 billion (plus 3 percent) to customers throughout the world. As a result, German suppliers remained the world market leaders in 2015. Other countries supplying equipment with a value of more than €1 billion are Italy and China. In 2014, world trade had reached a volume of nearly €8.8 billion, with the five largest countries – Germany, Italy, China, the USA and Japan – accounting for 60 percent of worldwide trade in the sector.

2015 Germany continued to be China’s largest supplier of thermo process technology with an exported value of €272 million (plus 1 percent).  German manufacturers’ trade with the USA rose by almost 12 percent last year and exports to the EU 28 countries were up by more than 3 percent. Trade with Russia fell the second year in a row (minus 22 percent). Nevertheless, Russia remained the third largest market for thermo process equipment from Germany. Exports to Mexico were up 67 percent and nearly reached the level of German deliveries to the UK in 2015.

In a business environment which remains tense, modest growth is expected in 2016. By the end of the year, sales of the sector could increase by about 5 percent compared with the previous year.

The relevant technical trends in thermo process technology include:

  • Growing integration of thermo process technology into other production processes (for example in the automobile industry)
  • Hybrid heating systems (burners and induction)
  • New low-emission, high-efficiency burner types
  • Waste heat reduction through improved heat recovery
  • Resource-efficient use of atmosphere gas.

* The nomenclature of official statistics means that it is not possible to give an overall figure for foundry machinery exports. The areas of “sand preparation systems for foundries” and “production of moulds” cannot be precisely defined in the export statistics and are not included in the data stated.

**This value does not take into consideration the export of complete plants.

Bildquelle : VDMA Shanghai Office

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