Industry news

Poland: Increases in uncertain environment

| Author / Editor: Wojciech Traczyk / Theresa Knell

Tool industry in Poland is in a very good condition which is largely thanks to the country’s good economic situation.
Tool industry in Poland is in a very good condition which is largely thanks to the country’s good economic situation. (Source: Raven Media)

The Polish cutting tools market is closely related to the situation of the machinery industry, especially the machine tool sector – and at the same time to the economic situation in the whole industrial processing. Both on the global scale and on the Polish market, the situation looks promising and growing demand is the consequence of satisfactory condition of these industrial sectors which take advantage of cutting tools technology to a large extent.

It is very difficult to measure the size of Poland’s cutting tools industry which is a result of lack of detailed statistical data on this sector. However, there is no doubt that the tool industry is in a very good condition which is largely thanks to the country’s good economic situation (at least compared with the rest of Europe).

Polish market

The aforementioned difficulties with estimating the size of Poland's cutting tools market lead to a closer examination of the machine tools sector. According to the data obtained from GUS (Main Statistical Office) in 2017, there were a total of approx. 4 thousand of various types of metal processing machinery manufactured in Poland, out of which only approx. 15% constituted more advanced processing centres and multi-position machine tools. Furthermore, if we add the fact that some machine tools from Polish plants are exported, it is no surprise that domestic production can only supply approx. 30% of demand for such machinery. From the point of view of a tool sector enterprise, these results are hardly satisfactory and the fact that from the middle of the current decade, production of machine tools in our country increased by almost 25% provides only a little consolation.

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A large potential of Polish tool industry can also be seen in import results for tools for machine tools and other cutting equipment, as well as spare parts for them. According to the data from 2017, the value of imports of this product group amounted to almost EUR 750 million and still displays a growth tendency, although it also includes manual processing tools which are practically impossible to precisely determine.

Such potential is also confirmed by the data from VDW (German Association of Machine Tool Plants), according to which, the last year’s value of import of machine tools from Germany totalled EUR 472.7 million which was 10% than the year before.

Unfortunately, such data does not make it possible to determine the share of machine tools, tools for them and accessories for machine tools in the Polish-German trade exchange. The available market data also does not make it possible to determine which types of tools for machine tools sell most on the Polish market. The most popular and most frequently purchased are universal standard tools from economical lines and special tools. The former group offers low prices, possibility of processing various materials and more and more often good quality. Highly specialized tools, on the other hand, often tailored-made, are required for, for example, processing of materials which are very difficult to cut (such as super alloys used in aviation) or used to meet specialist requirements of a particular sector.

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Competitive market

According to the report from entitled ‘Global Cutting Tools Market – Forecast Until 2023’, the tool industry is highly competitive with a low level of concentration. This is caused by the fact that manufacturing production of metal cutting tools has become very popular – it is much more common than most technologically advanced equipment.

The Polish tools market is also very fragmented – there is no single leader or a group of leaders which would dominate this production sector. According to the data from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, in the domestic tools industry, there are as many as 80 important production enterprises, including a group of companies which also provide tool regeneration.

The market is dominated by companies from the sector of micro and small enterprises which do not have a strong and stable financial position or much international experience. In order to compete with the industry’s biggest producers, their capital consolidation is recommended. An excellent example of such an action is, established in 2006, Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster which has over 100 entities, including tool industry manufacturers, but also various institutions supporting their activities (such as higher education establishments, financial institutions and research institutes).

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Development perspectives

Because the metal cutting tools industry is closely related to those industrial sectors which use metal processing, and indirectly to the global economic situation, in the coming years a slow-down of the whole industry’s growth may be anticipated. In Europe and United States, there is an anticipated growth in demand for the most advanced tools for metal cutting. The Chinese market, on the other hand, as well as other developing countries from the Asian continent, may count on a recovery associated with intensive competition and need for modernization or replacement of currently used metal cutting technologies. Asia will remain, mainly because of the Chinese industry, the biggest recipient of cutting tools and its advantage over the rest of the world should grow slightly at the beginning of the next decade.

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