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International News From the Field: Europe

This week, we start with a focus on Germany, the driving force of the European economy, where manufacturing has shown the strongest growth in factory activity in three years. We then move on to European aerospace with interesting developments...
by Hubert Sawicki
Apr 19, 2021

This week, we start with a focus on Germany, the driving force of the European economy, where manufacturing has shown the strongest growth in factory activity in three years. We then move on to European aerospace with interesting developments for U.S.-based Stratasys and Raytheon. French Dassault Aviation and JPB Systeme also have reason to celebrate. Finally, we conclude with a couple of interesting strategies from Volkswagen. For more details and other industry tidbits, read on.

 Germany

  • In Germany, by far the largest economy in Europe, March’s manufacturing PMI was 66.6. Although the forecasted 2021 GDP growth of 3% is relatively modest, manufacturing has shown the strongest growth in factory activity in three years. The “orders booked” volume remains robust and is increasing, and the unemployment rate is dropping.

  • Manufacturing is the most important sector in German industry and accounts for 79% of total production. The biggest segments are machinery and equipment (12%) and motor vehicles (12%). These two segments represent the prime driving force in R&D and innovation.

  • 2020 saw a 31% decline in German machine tool production according to VDW. The recovery is predicted to be relatively slow. Workholding and ancillary equipment, however, are recovering quicker in Germany and throughout Europe as users extend the lifetime of their machines and expand innovative applications, process automation, and additive manufacturing. In Europe, AM saw growth in 2020, which is continuing into 2021.

  • The newest ranking by Kearney of countries likely to attract the most FDI over the next three years places Germany at number three behind the United States and Canada. The current trend for FDI is largely being directed to the developed markets – ones with a high degree of innovation and mature technology ecosystems.

  • The German aerospace industry has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last two decades, reaching over $46 billion just before the pandemic. It has been able to carry on this momentum into 2021. 

  • While the number one manufacturer in Germany is Airbus (27 facilities in the country), the second largest is Collins Aerospace, now a unit of Raytheon, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, which has been supplying customized complex electronics for military programs for over 50 years.

  • German automotive production, with an overall output figure of nearly $600 billion prior to the pandemic, was seriously affected in 2020 with a 40% reduction. As of April 2021, it is on track to resume the previous levels, due in no small part to the focus on hybrid and electric vehicles.

 European Aerospace

  • The European aerospace and aviation industry is showing a strong recovery. The use of additive manufacturing is increasing as the sector strives for lighter parts and consolidated assemblies. A digital inventory of 3D-printable spare parts increases the efficiencies and cost effectiveness of maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO).

  • Stratasys, an American-Israeli 3D printer manufacturer, was recently awarded an Airbus contract extension to produce 3D-printed polymer cabin interior components. They have been producing parts for the A300, A320, A330, A340, and A350 aircraft.

  •  U.K. aero engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Italian airframer Tecnam are joining forces with Norway’s Wideroe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market. It is expected to be ready for revenue service in 2026. 

  •  French Dassault Aviation, best known as a fighter jet manufacturer, has successfully completed its first flight of the Falcon 6X, opening the road for certification. This luxury widebody business jet has a range of 5,500 NM, allowing the aircraft to fly nonstop from London to Hong Kong or from Los Angeles to Moscow. Thanks to the new generation Pratt & Whitney engine, the aircraft is designed to provide double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency and carbon emissions. The company also has assembly and production plants in Florida in the United States.

  • French JPB Systeme, a provider of anti-rotational and locking devices for aerospace and other industries, has received a grant from the French government to establish a new, advanced “factory of the future” south of Paris. The project, known as “JPB Villaroche 2025,” is valued at more than $36 million.

 Volkswagen

  • Volkswagen, the largest global automotive manufacturer in terms of units (9.3 million worldwide in 2020), plans to manufacture 20% of their vehicles as electric vehicles by 2025. VW plans to offer 70 EV models by 2030.

  • To vertically integrate its supply of electric batteries by 2030, VW plans to build six Gigafactories to manufacture nearly 4 million batteries per year. They are looking for partners with the idea that battery unification leads to a reduction in prices.

For more information, please contact Hubert Sawicki at hsawicki@AMTonline.org.

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Author
Hubert Sawicki
Head of AMT European Office
Born and educated in Poland, had a successful international career. Worked in several European countries, always within and for the engineering commun ...
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