Market scenario Global development of the mechanical engineering industry

Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais / Ahlam Rais

Europe, China, the USA and Japan are core markets for the mechanical engineering sector. MM International provides an in-depth insight into these dynamic markets in the midst of global policies such as Trump’s trade policy and the Brexit deal.

Mechanical engineering is responsible for 9.5 % of all the production in EU manufacturing industries: European Commission
Mechanical engineering is responsible for 9.5 % of all the production in EU manufacturing industries: European Commission
(Source: Deposit Photos)

“Casting the world, forging the campus, shaping the universe, welding the rest of all branches, because we are the men, we are the machine, and we are Mechanical Engineers.” This popular quote says it all! Mechanical engineering is highly regarded as the ‘Mother of engineering’ and is also one of the dominant industries throughout the globe. Known for its high volume production, the industry also makes significant contribution to a country’s economy.


The European Union is the world’s largest exporter of machinery. Statistics revealed by the European Commission state that mechanical engineering is responsible for 9.5 % of all the production in EU manufacturing industries and that it is one of the largest industrial sectors in the EU economy in terms of number of enterprises, employment, production and the generation of added value. Germany is one of the big players in the region that contribute to the global machinery industry.

In terms of the current market scenario, the federal authority of Germany, the Federal Statistical Office has reported that in the first nine months of this year, machine deliveries increased by a nominal 5.2 % or 6.5 billion euros to 131.9 billion euros compared to the previous year. In addition to this, a report by the largest industry association in Europe, VDMA states that in the third quarter (July - September) of 2018, German mechanical engineering companies recorded an increase in exports of 3.9 % to 43.8 billion euros. In this scenario, the Brexit deal is a worrisome issue but industry players across Europe are hoping for the best.


China is the world's largest producer of machinery and the Asian giant also ranks second in terms of global machinery exports, the first being Germany. According to data released by the Beijing-based China Machinery Industry Federation, the total exports by the country's machinery sector stood at 406 billion dollars in 2017, up 8.33 % from 2016, while imports during the same year jumped 12.31% to 306.3 billion dollars.

Forecasting the growth of the Chinese machine manufacturing market, the country’s industry officials opined that the manufacturers are expected to maintain a 7 % year-on-year growth in exports this year on the back of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative. The rise of China can be attributed to the numerous hefty subsidies given to state-owned mechanical engineering companies under the ‘Made in China 2025’ programme. However, this also has a major drawback, Ulrich Ackermann, Head of VDMA Foreign Trade mentions: "These subsidised or non-market-oriented mechanical engineering companies are increasingly conquering the global export markets including the EU and distorting international competition." This strategy has left the mechanical engineering industry of other countries such as the USA, France, the Netherlands and the UK behind.


In 2017, the U.S. market for mechanical engineering was sized at around 401.6 billion dollars, claims a report by market analyst, Statista. Being one of the leading players in the mechanical engineering space, the country is committed to focusing on technological innovations i.e. developing advanced manufacturing or automation equipment to stay ahead of other global players in the field. VDMA further states that the USA remains the largest export market for German machinery. Exports to the United States increased by 11.6 % to nearly 18 billion euros last year. However, in line with recent events such as Trump’s trade policy, the mechanical engineering industry may also witness a setback in the coming months.


Japan is known for its superior quality and the Japanese Government is also promoting the concept of ‘Connected Industry’ for transforming the country’s landscape from a traditional manufacturing set up to an advanced manufacturing one. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has also stated that advanced manufacturing is one of Japan’s key growing sectors and has also predicted that it will reach about 270 billion dollars by 2020. This includes IoT-related technologies and smart factory applications in machineries.

Coming to the current market scenario of the machinery industry, the latest government data reveals that core machinery orders in Japan plunged 18.3 per cent in September of 2018, after a 6.8 % jump in the previous month and compared to market expectations of a 9.5 % decline. It was the fourth fall in seven months and the sharpest monthly drop on record.

The mechanical engineering industry is largely dominated by these four players. Hence, keeping in mind, the changing dynamics and trade uncertainties in the market, we hope that the industry witnesses a significant growth in the months to come.

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