Economy & Politics

Shaken machine builders

The press manufacturer Schuler now also offers systems for the production of railway wheels. Photo: dpa / Marijan Murat

The once spoiled for success industry not only suffers from Corona, but also particularly badly from the technological change in the automotive industry. Manufacturers of machine tools in particular have to save.

Stuttgart – trade conflicts, Brexit, economic downturn, transformation – and for a few months now Corona, broken supply chains included. The mood in mechanical engineering is “in free fall”, said Klaus-Peter Guthurst, head of the industry and innovation department at management consultancy PwC Germany. This is borne out by the figures: more than three quarters of the machine builders are expecting a noticeable to serious drop in sales this year, a lightning survey by the mechanical engineering association VDMA showed earlier this month. Accordingly, the decline in sales will be up to 30 percent. It should not go up until next year. “This optimism is driven by expectations and therefore very fragile,” warns Ralph Wiechers, chief economist at VDMA. Probably true: Currently, 68 percent of the companies in Germany work briefly – in the south-west it is 74 percent -, 62 percent of the companies have hired a job and 17 percent have even initiated staff cuts – including in parts of the regular workforce.

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