New orders for metal cutting, forming and fabricating machinery totaled $399 million in September 2023, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report issued by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT).
That figure is down 2.8% vs. August and down 23.4% year-over-year. Year-to-date orders reached $3.64 billion, down 13.8% from the first nine months of 2022.
“Though 2023 orders are down, activity is still above long-term historical averages, indicating relative health overall,” AMT President Douglas Woods said in a news release. “We are still seeing strength in key industries, with contract machine shops, medical, and automotive continuing to invest heavily in manufacturing technology.”
AMT noted that contract machine shops increased order value by nearly a third during September while units ordered grew by a much smaller degree. Similarly, manufacturers of medical supplies dramatically increased their overall spending, while the automotive sector also continued to increase orders.
“Because of the longer production horizon as well as a sustained increase in demand for new vehicles, automotive manufacturers made capital spending investments despite labor challenges,” the monthly report detailed.
“The disparity in manufacturing technology investment across industries indicates that not all are paring back capital spending at once,” Woods added. “Industries that are spending healthily on manufacturing tech appear to be shifting expenditures toward highly automated machinery as evidenced by rising per-unit values.”
Though year-to-date orders have declined compared to a strong 2022, order levels are above historical averages, and there are pockets of strength in several industries.
“Industries supported by high consumer demand and benefiting from long production timelines continued to be reliable customers of manufacturing technology,” Woods said. “We are detecting a shift in capital goods investment toward improving productivity through adoption of manufacturing technology automation.”