2011 goes in the books as a record-breaking year for worldwide machinery production with overall growth at 10.2%, according to market analysis firm IMS Research, Austin. The company's new report, Machine Production Yearbook - 2011, further states that this trend is forecasted to continue through 2014. The machine sector was among the hardest hit by the economic downturn, yet given the long lead times of the business cycle, it was also one of the last to suffer.

“The latest indicators are that growth is slowing slightly from the highs seen last year, which is hardly surprising when you consider the magnitude of the comeback seen in 2010,” says analyst Andrew Robertson.

Output from Asia-Pacific declined in 2009, but not to the extent seen in Europe and the Americas; while Japan's output plunged in 2009, China and India continued to see growth. Then, helped by tremendous growth in Japan in 2010, Asia-Pacific comfortably surpassed its strong 2008 levels last year and is likely to continue its robust performance. In the Americas, where machinery output is dominated by North America, the decline in 2009 was more severe and the subsequent recovery more gradual.

Meanwhile, the 2009 downturn in Europe was more severe than in the other two regions, and recovery has been more varied. Although Germany's upturn has been fairly strong, the plight of others such as Spain, Greece, and Portugal has been far worse. As such, IMS analysts do not anticipate European machinery production to surpass pre-recession levels until after 2012.

The graph illustrates the varying performance of the three nations which have traditionally dominated the machinery sector: Whereas machinery production in Germany and the U.S. recovers to set record-breaking years relatively quickly after the downturn, the outlook for Japan is in stark contrast. The Japanese industry plummeted in 2009, and the outlook is still uncertain. Even with growth in 2010 of almost 40%, production isn't expected to recover to pre-recession levels before 2015.

“Although no industry is immune to the effects of the current economic uncertainty, machinery output, for the time being at least, appears to be faring better than the markets and economy in general. Whether it will continue to do so is yet to be seen,” adds Robertson.

For more information on this report, visit imsresearch.com