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15 February 2019

EU construction machinery sector needs resolve as Brexit looms

First published15/02/2019
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Manufacturers are experiencing good construction equipment sales but concerns are on the horizon for which the sector must pull together to overcome

German construction machinery manufacturers are concerned about a no-deal Brexit – UK exiting the European Union - and the possible disintegration of the EU.

Rising global economic challenges can be mastered only with a strong, united Europe, according to the VDMA - Construction Equipment and Building Material Machinery Association. VDMA represents more than 3,200 mostly medium-sized companies in Germany’s mechanical and plant engineering sector.

This was the view by attendees at the VDMA’s construction machinery specialised group conference held recently in Frankfurt am Main.

From an economic point of view, the industry as a whole is scaling new heights, with sales rising by 12% in 2018. The figure is €12.1 billion, of which €4 billion is attributable to Germany. Sales on the German market grew by 9% compared to the previous year and are 8% up on the previous record set in 2007.

Most markets in Northern and Western Europe are at a similarly high level, while Southern and Central Eastern Europe continued their recovery in 2018.These markets are maintaining their growth, albeit at a lower volume.

Growth should continue until the industry’s triannual highlight exhibition bauma from April 8-14, after which experts expect a slight downturn.

Although a moderate decline is anticipated, the German market will remain very strong. For Europe, a trend reversal of +/- 0% is re realistic. The world market is growing more slowly than in 2018, but growth of up to 10% is possible. Representatives of the construction machinery manufacturers expect industry turnover to grow by 3-5% this year in Germany.

“We are at an all-time high, but this time the road that led us here was more stable and sustainable than in 2007. This gives us hope that the industry will be able to maintain this good level for longer,” said Franz-Josef Paus, chairman of the VDMA.

He believes that only the lack of qualified personnel on the customer side had a dampening effect and that the construction industry in Germany and Europe remains strong and stable overall. These positive prospects must not be jeopardized by political chaos. There are challenges to be mastered all over the world. Trade barriers by the US president Donald Trump government or the well-calculated conquest of world markets by the Chinese require better cooperation in Europe.

Prior to the elections to the European Parliament on May 26, European policymakers must also be aware that industry underpins the livelihoods of more than 500 million people and therefore needs support at political level.

“Europe is currently putting its own competitiveness at risk. We must stop this development,” said Joachim Strobel, chairman of the construction machinery specialised group within the VDMA. All conference participants agreed that one of the tasks for the future is the digitalisation of the construction site. Although this is currently on everyone’s lips, it has so far made little impact in the real world.

A digital construction site is the vision of a fully digitalised, highly automated and customisable construction site. In order to solve the upcoming problems and shape this process, VDMA is planning to set up a working group entitled Machines in Construction 4.0. This is to be officially founded at bauma on April 8 where the importance of the construction and construction machinery sector will be demonstrated yet again.

The hall areas and open-air grounds of Messe München are fully booked and the waiting list is long. Exhibitors and visitors will come from all over the world, the innovation cycles of the companies are based on the trade fair cycle. Highlights at bauma are career events for school students, as well as the bauma Forum with international lectures and discussions, the partner country Canada with more than 40 exhibitors and the twelfth bauma Innovation Award 2019.

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Companies in this article

Construction Equipment and Building Material Machinery Association
European Union
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