This culminated in 2008 with the highest production value ever. 'Total output for core machinery manufacturing rose to 5.6 billion euros,' said Jan-Udo Kreyenborg, Chairman of the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). 'Globally, German manufacturers were able to increase their share of the world production volume slightly to 25.4 per cent.'
Exports of German plastics and rubber machinery were also up sharply over the past few years, recording a new high in 2008 on the back of a 4.6 per cent increase. At the same time, world trade in plastics and rubber machinery weakened slightly for the first time in many years; Germany's share rose again as a result, reaching 26.6 per cent.
After these boom years, the industry braced itself for an economic downturn which was exacerbated by the onset of the global financial crisis in October 2008. The final quarter of the year saw incoming orders plummet, and this continued unabated in the first few months of 2009. 'Up to and including April 2009, orders for German plastics and rubber machinery were 48 per cent down on the previous year and sales were 30 per cent lower,' said Jan-Udo Kreyenborg. 'Based on these figures and taking all other available information into account, the Association expects sales to be down by around 40 per cent - give or take a little.'
As the first half of the year draws to a close, Jan-Udo Kreyenborg believes that the level of incoming orders has now hit bottom: 'Project business in the last few weeks suggests that the situation is set to stabilise in autumn 2009.