Market insight Poland: Tool industry on the plus
Very good economic situation of Poland’s economy, including the growing sales of industries such as machine, metal or automobile is in direct proportion to the growing demand for machine processing tools. It is a very good period for tool manufacturers which should be seized by them to increase competitiveness and investment in new technologies.
Last year, almost 4000 machine tools were produced in Poland with the great majority of them being universal machines with relatively little participation of processing centres and building-block or multi-station machines. From the point of view of firms offering tools it is also crucial that the production volume of machine tools has grown by almost a quarter since 2015. Only 30% of domestic demand is met by Polish suppliers which means that it is necessary to import processing machinery. Companies from Germany, USA and China comprise the main suppliers. Whereas machines imported from the Middle Kingdom are mainly of medium class, the imports from Germany also encompass machine tools of higher technological standard, since these are rarely produced in Poland.
Similar tendencies also occur in case of tools for machine processing, the segment which is increasingly more important. This is indicated by the growth in the volume of tools and their spares which, taking into consideration the tendencies visible in the period of three quarters of 2017, may be assessed for the whole of 2017 to be in the range of 700-750 million euros.
Market structure of the polish tool industry
According to the data from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, the core of Polish tool industry comprises of a group of approximately 80 production, commercial and service companies, including the main companies handling tool regeneration. At least 20 entities from this group function as branches of foreign concerns. In total, there are very few medium and large enterprises with solid capital background and business experience on international markets – they are mainly small and micro entities, the total number of which is even difficult to estimate. This means that the domestic tool market is very fragmented and requires capital consolidation.
In Poland, a wide selection of modern tools for machine processing is available and includes the majority of renowned global suppliers. It is also possible to purchase tools manufactured in China which are cheaper compared to their western equivalents. However, there is no doubt that they are higher risk products in terms of their parameters, quality of processing and durability. Sales of brand new products are supplemented by tool repair and regeneration services. Apart from tools for machine processing, numerous suppliers of hand tools in a way constitute a separate segment of the industry.
An important segment of the domestic tool industry are services of sharpening blunt cutting blades, frequently connected with treatment extending life span, e.g. coating slowing down wear and tear. Regeneration of monolithic tools has become very universal and entrepreneurs use this possibility frequently. The situation is worse when it comes to folded tools, the regeneration of which is still more of a niche activity which is, however, becoming gradually more important.
Professionally regenerated tools, as a rule are not inferior to brand new products in terms of their life span and the quality of processing operations carried out with their assistance. And they are a very cost-effective solution: with a one-off regeneration, the cost involved – depending on a tool’s diameter and the material it is made of – represents 20-50% of a new tool’s price and if such an operation is repeated five times (recommended limit of repairs), the savings arising from not purchasing a new tool may reach 60-70% of the costs associated with this.
Regeneration, if required, may also be related to changing a tool’s diameter, geometry and other parameters if the entrepreneur wishes to, for example, apply cutting plates of different measurements and shapes or to simply increase their number. Apart from the tools themselves, any kind of instrumentation may be repaired such as machine frames and turning lathe centres or jaws.
Despite a calm situation on the tool market, their suppliers must realize that sooner or later they would be faced with a technological challenge related to widespread incremental manufacturing which constitutes and an element of the Industry 4.0 concept. In highly developed countries, it is becoming more and more popular replacing the traditional subtractive manufacturing. In Polish reality, this is still a thing of the future, currently the industry is much more affected by what is happening on the machine tool market.