Industrial valves: slowdown in momentum expected

Despite adverse conditions, the industrial valves sector still got off to a fairly good start in 2023. Regardless of the difficult situation in some sales industries, such as the chemical industry, the sector managed to generate a nominal increase in sales of 8 percent. Domestic business climbed by 12%. Foreign sales increased by 4%. Adjusted for prices, however, the 8% sales growth corresponds to a 2% decline. 

Text by the VDMA Valves Association

“As was the case last year, sales growth in the first half of 2023 is largely due to inflation. In view of the still rather weak economy in Germany and Europe, the industry is finding it increasingly difficult to stay on course,” said Dr. Laura Dorfer, Managing Director of the VDMA Valves Association, assessing the current situation. “We are optimistic about the future, because the valve industry is basically well positioned and also offers the right solutions for future issues such as climate protection. However, bureaucratic obstacles and the shortage of skilled workers are currently causing problems for our members, so that the potential cannot be fully exploited.”

Supply bottlenecks and inflation are expected to ease further in the course of the year. However, many customer industries remain uncertain and are reluctant to tackle major investments.

“Against this backdrop, we expect growth to weaken in the second half of the year and are only calculating nominal sales growth of 5 percent for 2023 as a whole,” predicts the trade association’s managing director.

Safety and monitoring lead the way

Sales were up for all product groups in the first half of the year. Here, too, however, what at first sight appears to have been a pleasing development was driven by inflation. Safety and monitoring valves again performed best, with a nominal increase in sales of 14 percent in Germany and abroad. Shut-off valves recorded a 9 percent increase in sales, and control valves were up 2 percent. In the case of shut-off and control valves, domestic business performed better than foreign business. According to VDMA figures, although order intake in all three sectors is up on the same period last year, there are signs of a slowdown in growth in the second half of the year.”

Exports remain on expansion course

In the first half of 2023, German valve manufacturers were again successful abroad. Industrial valves worth around 2.6 billion euros were exported abroad. This corresponds to a nominal increase of 9.5 percent compared to the same period last year. In real terms, the increase was only 0.7 percent.

Exports to China, the most important customer country, which had fallen by 6.8 percent last year, increased by 5.7 percent to EUR 296.8M in the first half of 2023. The export business with the USA, the second most important trading partner, continued the success of the previous year and climbed again by a strong 20.9 percent. Exports thus amounted to EUR 274.2M. At the same time, exports to France rose by 16.3 percent. The country continued to hold third place among the most important sales markets with a volume of EUR 169.6M.

With an impressive increase in exports of 32.1 percent to EUR 95.0M, the Czech Republic also returned to 10th place among the most important customers.

Growth opportunities arise around the topic of climate change

While the prospects for the important valve customer chemical industry are currently very weak, especially in Germany and Europe, other markets promise better sales opportunities.

For example, the valve industry, together with the entire process technology sector, is seen as an enabler of the energy transition. The trend topics of hydrogen and the circular economy are creating demand for corresponding green technologies. Therefore, the focus of the EU and the US government on sustainability issues could also provide positive impetus for the valve industry in the coming years.

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This Featured Story is an article from our Valve World Magazine, October 2023 issue. To read other featured stories and many more articles, subscribe to our print magazine. Available in both print and digital formats. DIGITAL MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE NOW FREE.

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