Machine tool orders surged in May, posting solid gains on a monthly and year-over-year basis.
Orders totaled $485.49 million in May, the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT; McLean, VA) said in a monthly report.
That represented a 22% gain from an adjusted $396.67 million in April and a 38% increase from $351.79 million in May 2017.
For the first five months of 2018, orders totaled $2.13 billion, a 26% increase from $1.69 billion for the same period last year.
The five-month figure “shows the strength in the global markets for manufacturing technology products and places the trend line on orders above our projections from last year,” Douglas K. Woods, AMT’s president, said in a statement.
The figures are based on information from companies participating in AMT’s US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) program.
AMT said increased machine tool orders were widespread across the United States. Much of the rise was due to oil and gas exploration but other industries also contributed, according to the trade group.
At the same time, Woods cautioned the industry faces potential challenges in this year’s second half.
“The market does have some turbulence with tariff concerns, supply chain challenges, labor shortages, interest rates creeping up, and disruptive technologies shifting markets and methods,” Woods said in the statement. “Still, for those agile and innovative companies, these market dynamics create a larger volume of opportunities, and pave a pathway to continued growth.”
The administration of President Donald Trump has imposed trade sanctions on China, Canada and the European Union. Additional tariffs may be in the offing. The U.S. is studying whether to impose tariffs on imported cars.
Machine tool orders began to slide in mid-2014 amid falling oil prices, which affected energy exploration. Orders improved in the second half of 2016 but a sustained recovery didn’t start until spring of 2017.
One positive for machine tool orders in the year’s second half is IMTS, the massive trade show organized by AMT. IMTS is held in Chicago in September. The show typically generates a surge in orders.