By Chris Smith, European Plastics News
Frankfurt, Germany -- Industry association VDMA reports orders for German-made plastics and rubber machinery returned to growth in the final quarter of last year. It is now predicting "a markedly positive" 2010. Order intake grew by 35 percent in the fourth quarter - an upbeat end to a rough year for German manufacturers of plastics and rubber machinery.
In its latest report, released 10 March, VDMA, the Frankfurt-based German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, said the sector returned to growth in October, marking the first demand growth since early 2008. That growth trend continued over the two months to the end of the year.
"The stimulus came from countries outside Europe," said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the VDMA. "Orders from customers in Germany and the Euro area lag behind the previous year's figures."
Reifenhäuser is also encouraged by trends from the latest survey of the association's members, which shows that demand for plastics and rubber machinery picked up in all sales areas in the second half of 2009. The two previous surveys had shown a marked decline in new orders.
"Not only are the expectations now positive but the assessment of the current situation has also improved significantly," Reifenhäuser said. "On this basis there is good reason to believe that the industry's volume of incoming orders and sales will end this year on a markedly positive note."
Reifenhäuser said the plastics and rubber machinery sector had been one of the first of the major German manufacturing industries to feel the impact of the global recession, beginning in autumn 2008.
The increase in order intake in the final quarter of 2009 helped cushion the ongoing effect of the recession in the full year figures, according to VDMA. Even so, orders for the full year 2009 were down by 28 percent from 2008 levels.
The association said demand from customers in Germany was down by 35 percent and for the rest of the Euro-zone countries was down by 38 percent. Orders for exports from countries outside of the Euro-zone where down by 24 percent.
Last month, the VDMA published 2009 full year sales figures for the plastics and rubber machinery sector. These showed a 30 percent decline on 2008, to Euro 3900 million ($5500 million).
Meanwhile, the VDMA's counterpart in Italy - Assocomaplast - also reported last month that sales of Italian plastics and rubber machinery, equipment and moulds fell by 23.8 percent in 2009, to Euro 3200 million ($4400 million).
In common with VDMA, Assocomoplast also expressed some confidence for the future. It published a survey of its membership which showed 81 percent of respondents expected to see growth during the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period in the previous year.
Plastics machinery makers from around the world will be hoping that the K 2010 show, which takes place later this year in Düsseldorf, Germany, will further encourage orders.
K2010 organiser Messe Düsseldorf, which opened its online ticket sales office this month, said it expects to attract around 3000 exhibitors to the 19 halls of the 2010 event.