"Due to the financial crises we feared that there would be less visitors at the fair this year", said Mr Siegfried Glaser, Chairman of the German Engineering Federation's forum on glass technology, on Saturday when the fair came to an end. „But on the contrary, there were once again even more international visitors than two years ago - among them many a decision maker." With this, glasstec, which only takes place every other year, showed once again that it is the leading international fair for the glass machinery industry.
The industry has been particulary happy to see solar technology and the relevant production processes put in the focus so well and for the first time ever and, with this, attracking new groups of visitors. By now, nearly 90 per cent of all German manufacturers of sheet glass machinery are working in the solar area. These companies are expecting the solar boom to continue also in years to come. Potential declines in demand in traditional sheet glass sectors, in particular as used in the automotive industry, would be compensated like this.
Currently the German glass machinery industry is in a positive mood. However, it was not quite as euphoric as two years ago after glasstec, said Mr Glaser and thought this was quite understandbly the case. Even if the order books currently are full and the orders on hand are very likely to last most companies until about the second quarter of 2009, the German Engineering Federation (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e. V., VDMA) assumes that the manufacturers of glass machinery will feel the effect of the current financial crises by mid 2009 the latest.
Already at this point in time, some companies report on slow-downs in production at the clients' end and clients being less inclined to make new investments. This is particulary true for companies which are at the beginning of the production chain, such as manufacturers of melting tanks or batch machinery, Mrs Susanne Schartz-Laux of the VDMA forum glass technology states. Even clients from Russia or the Ukraine are currently complaining that it has become more difficult in their countries to get loans as banks are imposing more conditions.
The German Engineering Federation expects to see the industry backing down a little after five years of extraordinary growth in a row. „We expect significant declines with regard to incoming orders", said Mrs Schartz-Laux.