International Netherlands: The Machine building industry in the Netherlands is getting started

Author Stéphane Itasse

Is that why most German machine building companies are looking enviously to the West? In the last year itself the machine building industry in Netherlands saw a rise in the production by 5.2 %, significantly more than the overall industry. The prospects for 2015 are also good.

The Dutch manufacturing industry can currently profit from significant growth of corporate investments in their country.
The Dutch manufacturing industry can currently profit from significant growth of corporate investments in their country.
(Photo: Ministry of Economic Affairs (Ministerie van Economische Zaken))

After eight difficult years the Dutch seem to be have finally overcome the economic and financial crisis. The recent positive forecasts about the economic development are now confirmed by the De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), as reported by the German-Dutch Chamber of foreign trade (AHK). The forecast for the economic growth in December 2014 was still at 1.2 %, the DNB has now corrected its forecast to 2 %. If the predictions come true, the economic volume could surpass that of 2008 before the global economic crisis spread due to the bankruptcy of the American bank Lehman Brothers, states the chamber.

The electronic and machine building industry in Netherlands has good growth rates

In 2014 itself Netherlands economy grew again by just 1 %, for this year the OECD expects an increase of 2 % and for 2016 an increase of 2.2 %. Such values are not forecasted for Germany. This is especially interesting from the perspective of manufacturing industry: In 2014 the corporate investments increased by 2.3 % and in the first quarter of 2015 by 7 %, according to the information given by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. “These good figures show that the companies are able to trust again and have the courage to invest. We must now give them more freedom for example with tax reductions by revising the tax system”, says the Economy minister Henk Kamp.

The weakness in the oil and gas branch is lowering the statistics for the overall industry. In the first quarter of 2015 the industry turnover sank in Netherlands by 4.4 % as compared to the previous year, announced the Statistics Office CBS. In the metal products industry the domestic sales increased whereas the foreign sales decreased. On balance there was a drop of 2.8 %, an increase in production is expected for the second quarter. According to CBS it looks better in the electronic industry and in the machine building industry. The production in the first quarter of the year 2015 increased by 3.2 % compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The activity should increase further in the second quarter.

Even small and average industrial companies in Netherlands are profiting from the boom

This situation was also reflected in the economic barometer of the KMU association Metaalunie (Royal Dutch Association of enterprises in Metal Industry). The hopes for a strong economic impetus in the first quarter ended in disappointment in view of the turnover achieved in reality. The barometer also showed that entrepreneurs were positive for the second quarter at the time of the upswing. According to Metaalunie one in three expected a better second quarter, only one in eight companies expected a deterioration. These hopes were primarily based on export.

The industrial association FME assesses the prospects and the situation optimistically. The FME represents 2300 member companies with a total of 225,000 employees from metal, electronic, electrical engineering and plastics industry. According to the results from the FME Business Survey of spring 2015, the entire industry achieved a sales growth of 4.5% in the last year. Companies expected that the growth would still increase in this year with 5 % and in the coming year with 6 %.

Industrial association FME sees Industry 4.0 as a challenge

But there is not just good news, reported the industry association at the publication of the economic survey in Zoetermeer. Almost one third of the companies have had to accept shrinking revenues in the last year. This is especially applicable for companies with 50 to 100 employees.

Nevertheless, the association thinks the industry is ready to approach the upcoming challenge i.e. the transition to smart industry, known as Industry 4.0 to us. “The smart industry, i.e. the combination of new production technologies and further integration of the information and communication technology in the process of development, manufacturing and distribution, will radically change the industry in the coming years. As industrial companies we must prepare for it now. To survive global competition, the industrial companies in Netherlands should not only be innovative but they should also keep their costs under control”, said the FME president Ineke Dezentjé in the Presentation of the FME Business Survey of spring 2015.

The appearance of more than 200 Dutch companies in the Hannover trade fair 2015 was aligned with this in mind. Under the motto “Global Challenges, Smart Solutions” there was a central Holland pavilion in hall 4. FME organized two more pavilions for Netherlands in 2015: the Holland High-Tech house in hall 2 and the Energy-Holland pavilion in hall 27. In addition many Dutch companies presented products and services for industry 4.0 on their booths.

Netherlands is also getting into shape for the upheaval in the global energy supply. According to an association notification of FME, developments like increased focus on renewable energies are offering enormous potential for the Dutch industry. “There are more than adequate opportunities”, said Dezentjé at the opening of the energy trade fair Powergen 2015 in Amsterdam.

The Dutch industry wants to contribute to clean energy supply

The Dutch industry has a number of innovations which can contribute to a cleaner, affordable and reliable energy supply. According to the statements by the FME-president these innovations can be used to their maximum if a series of preconditions are fulfilled first. Hence the same competition conditions must apply in Europe for all technologies. As an example Dezentjé talked about energy storage systems which are not marketable in Netherlands under the current rules. Something should be done about it.

The FME president also emphasized the importance of an integrated approach for the energy industry. “We still think too much about pipes carrying electricity, gas or heat. However, by converting one form of energy to another we can develop a flexible and reliable energy supply system. Within the FME we are working on it in Cluster Energy.” However, Netherlands cannot achieve their goals for electricity supply from regenerative energies without additional measures, reports AHK. According to a report of the Dutch audit office on the subsidy regulations of the ministry of economics, additional several billion Euros will be required abroad for wind power plants and renewable energy projects.

Nützliche Weblinks zum Thema Niederlande

German-Netherlands chamber of commerce

Ministry of Economic Affairs (Ministerie van Economische Zaken)

Industrial association FME

Koninklijke Metaalunie Koninklijke Metaalunie Royal Dutch Association of enterprises in Metal Industry

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