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German manufacturers of thermo process technology look back on significant growth in 2018

Thanks to the boost provided by favourable conditions in the world economy, German thermo process equipment manufacturers experienced two years of growth in succession.

Thanks to the boost provided by favourable conditions in the world economy, German thermo process equipment manufacturers experienced two years of growth in succession.

While sales grew by 11% nominally in 2017, there was further significant growth of 33% in 2018. Last year, orders received were up by 8% on 2017. According to preliminary figures, production of thermo process equipment in Germany grew by 16% in 2018 to over €2.3 billion, the second highest value after the result for 2011.


Orders received in the sector, especially from the Eurozone countries, have fallen since mid-2018, albeit from a very high level. For the year as a whole, it is expected that the overall trend towards stagnation will be reinforced. On the basis of the current situation, participants in the economic situation survey of the specialist association therefore expect sales to stagnate in 2019.

Current estimates of world trade in thermo process equipment made by the specialist association indicate slight growth of about 3% for 2018, with a total trading volume of about €9.3 billion. Among the major supplier countries, Japan recorded the highest growth, at slightly more than 30%, to an export volume of €608 million. Deliveries from Italy were slightly above the previous year’s figure at almost €1.3 billion. Exports from the USA stagnated at a volume of €809 million.

Against the backdrop of a positive mood in the domestic market, exports of thermo process equipment from Germany were slightly above the previous year’s figure (plus 4%) at a level of more than €1.8 billion. The sales indices of the sector also indicated a nominal increase of 52% in Germany.

China remains largest market for thermo process equipment from Germany

German exports to China reached a new five-year high last year, with growth of almost 13% (€286m). In contrast, deliveries from Germany to the USA fell for the second year in succession (minus 17%) – even though the USA remained the second-largest customer country, at €133 million, followed by Italy, with a volume of €90 million, where equipment sales by the sector grew by 10%. Exports to Russia fell in 2018 compared with the previous year (minus 26%). This was also the case in Turkey (minus 23%) and Mexico (minus 24%). In contrast, the sector reported significant growth in exports to Brazil (plus 50%), India (plus 38%), Canada (plus 129%) and Spain (plus 70%).

After the ifo business confidence index for the respondent group “industrial furnaces and burners” had improved successively to mid-2018, the situation deteriorated from the autumn onwards. However, capacity deployment grew again slightly to almost 87%. In the first quarter of 2019, exports continue to grow, with a rise of 10%. Exports to China and the USA exceeded the values for the first quarter of 2018 by 35 and 29% respectively.

“In addition to poor economic prospects and current trends connected with new mobility concepts, the sector has recently become increasingly concerned with the issues of environmental restrictions and regulation. Member companies are also involved in the development of data-based services. Technical solutions connected with sustainability and Industry 4.0 will therefore play a key role in our Thermprocess Symposium,” said Timo Würz, managing director of the VDMA Metallurgy specialist association.

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