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German woodworking industry going strong.


German woodworking machinery makers experienced splendid growth in 1990.

Optimizing the use of raw materials is number one in development techniques. Process controlled plants are making micro veneers a few tenths of a millimeter thick, CNC controlled working centers facilitate the manufacture of high-precision wood elements for making furniture and other components and glue-binding beams are being used for functional buildings and fulfill aesthetic requirements.

When building new houses and rehabbing old buildings, there is a demand for flooring, doors, and windows made of wood. Also in the modern office, where 12 million German employees work, German workplaces are mainly equipped with wooden office furniture.

Production up in 1990

German woodworking machinery companies have achieved a two-digit increase in production in 1990. According to the Association's analysts, production value in the seventh year of the continuous boom should be approximately 4,500 million DM (U.S. $3 billion) This is an increase of approximately 15 percent after a 22 percent increase in 1989. (See top chart, p. 94)

This volume was achieved by 250 middle-sized companies of the woodworking industry with a total of 25,000 employees. Based on the high order volume, new working places were created: 6.7 percent already in the previous year and approximately 5 percent in 1990. The production value per employee is 180 DM and is clearly above average of all machinery makers with 160,000DM.

The five largest companies in the business line are Homag AG, Andreas Stihl, Michael Weinig AG, Siempelkamp GmbH & Co. and IMA-Norte Maschinenfabriken GmbH & Co.

This production result does not only confirm the high share of German woodworking machinery in corresponding production of the Western industrial countries, but its position as world market leader could be strengthened.

Export quota confirms international competitiveness

The German woodworking machinery makers have strengthened their position as the world's largest producer and exporter, ahead of Italy, the United States and Japan. (See bottom chart)

Exports into more than 160 countries increased by 19 percent in the first three quarters of 1990 compared to the same period of the previous year. For 1990, an export value of 3,200 million DM (U.S. $2,133 million) is assumed, which equals an unchanged export quota of more than 70 percent.

Machinery and plants manufacturing composite wood material (particleboard and MDF), moulders and routers, multi-stage format and edging machinery, and hand-held woodworking machines comprised the largest parts of this share.

The export structure by countries remained unchanged with only a few exceptions. More than 70 percent were exports into European countries, followed by 13 percent into North America and 11 percent into Asia. (See top chart)

The most important buyer countries from Germany are still the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy and Japan. For the first time, the USSR has become important by investing into state-of-the-art equipment.

Imports are maintained

Imports into the German market had a value of 460 million DM (U.S. $310 million) in 1989. Compared to the export volume, these are only 16.5 percent. Major suppliers are Italy (33 percent), Austria (18 percent), and Switzerland (11 percent). In total, the increase was 21.5 percent in 1989 and this is only half the increase in West German domestic market volume, which increased by 44 percent up to 1,564 million DM (U.S. $1,043 million). (See bottom chart).

For the 1990 total, a further increase can be observed: The first three quarters of 1990 is showing a value of approximately 450 million DM (U.S. $300 million). This is machinery and equipment which belongs into the standardized machinery field and finds its use in hobby and semi-professional areas.

Order situation changes

In the second half of 1990, a change in trend of orders has occurred. Cleared prices show a weakening of foreign orders in comparison to the previous year. On the other hand, there is the same large increase of domestic orders.

Export dynamics probably will not stay on the same level in 1991. The risks of economic factors in important markets as North America, France, Great Britain, as well as Eastern Europe, are increasing.

Also in other parts of Europe (e.g. Italy and Spain), the dynamic is slowing down. The pleasant increase rates which could not be reached in the trade with threshold and developing countries, in particular with Southeast Asia, and the increased German domestic market will only partly be able to balance this worldwide weakening.

Therefore, manufacturers will observe the middle-termed market development with highest attention, as it will show at the upcoming Ligna Hannover '91 show for the woodworking and forest industry.

Chances for the woodworking machinery industry seem at the first sight favorable for the first half of 1991. Positive impact is being expected of the investment decisions by the European users in preparation for the domestic EC market.

In front is the West German furniture industry, which takes a leading role in Europe, German furniture makers are not only Europe's largest producer, but after Italy, they are the second largest exporter of furniture in the world. The German branch had a turnover increase of plus 7.3 percent in 1989 and expects a further turnover growth of 9 percent for 1990.

The approximately 37,000 West German cabinet makers are speaking of a considerable investment demand, whereby the main emphasis is on machinery which offers easier electronic-aided handling, high safety standards and optimum material use. The obligation for rationalization investment arises because of a lack of skilled craftsmen. Further, there are about 6,000 private cabinetmakers in East Germany with about 16,000 employees who will probably do larger investments in view of house renovating and building.

The latest Info-report on investment plans confirms the expectations described. For the woodworking section, 65 percent of the companies will invest more, 28 percent the same amount and 7 percent less, resulting in a positive balance of 58 percent. It is striking that 52 percent of the investments refer to the introduction of new production methods. Also, the tightened environmental protection laws, in particular on wood dust problems, demand more than 6 percent of the total investments.

Unique product range worldwide

For all applications, German woodworking machinery manufacturers offer a variety of the necessary tools, machinery and equipment. This includes efficient sawmill machines as well as complete plants for the manufacture of composite wood material (particle-board and MDF), flexible machinery systems, work centers for the manufacture of furniture, machinery for cabinetmakers and joiners, inclusive of handheld tools as well as electric tools for the do-it-yourselfer.

Besides this, the German branch has worldwide experience in conception, planning and building of complete manufacturing plants. The offer includes also the development of custom software as well as comprehensive, intense education and training of customer's employees from craftsmen to process engineer.

Domestic European Market '93

The German manufacturers of woodworking machinery are looking with optimism toward the domestic 1993 European Market. Traditionally, the largest part of exports, 35 percent, goes into this region, though a number of trade hindrances in the none tariff section have to be overcome. With harmonization of the technical regulations, set out in the EC machinery guidelines and diverse orders of execution, the same rules are coming into force for all woodworking machinery makers in the EC states and the same safety rules must be obeyed. This will have a certain effect of detente for the German machinery makers as it is known that besides the high quality level, the working safety of the German machinery and plants is setting an example worldwide. This also includes strict rules regarding maximum noise and dust emissions. Constructive experiences are existing already and are of immediate availability to the user, either in craftsmanship or in the furniture industry.

Ligna Hannover '91

Now in its 16th year, the world's largest machinery show for the forest and woodworking industries will take its role as the economic situation barometer again in 1991.

The 1,260 exhibitors, 53 percent of them foreign, are planning their participation with confidence and have reserved representative exhibit areas in time to be able to present their high-tech stems which afford more time to explain and demonstrate the entire efficiency program which the company offers. In order to realize both wishes, the Ligna organizers, the Deutsche Messe AG and the German Assn. of Woodworking Machinery, have actualized the booth conditions for the first time in 1991.

The exhibition net area has been increased to more than 115.000 square meters, and offers the visitor the seven main emphasis areas. Beginning with machinery for the furniture manufacturer, exhibits also include planers, jointer machinery, equipment for the forest industry and machinery for the manufacture of paneling and veneers.

Further, Ligna Hannover's infrastructure offers its visitors the prerequisites to get all relevant information which facilitate their investment decisions within an international offer and give them the possibility to secure and expand the quality of their work in the future. [Charts Omitted]
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Article Details
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Author:Neubauer, Werner
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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