Problems in production: A shortage of materials and skilled workers is a burden on machine builders


    Nine out of ten mechanical engineering companies reported noticeable or serious material shortages in June – that’s an increase again. The hope of a speedy recovery is fading.

    According to a survey, material bottlenecks and a shortage of skilled workers are increasingly hindering production in German mechanical engineering. “87 percent of companies in mechanical engineering currently see their supply chains being noticeably or seriously affected,” reports Ralph Wiechers, chief economist of the industry association VDMA.

    Compared to the previous survey, the situation has worsened again, according to the information, at the same time the hope of an early improvement is fading.

    In April, 79 percent, i.e. almost eight out of ten of those surveyed, reported noticeable or serious shortages in the supply of materials. In June it was almost nine out of ten of the 520 participating companies. Hardly anyone expects the situation to be defused within the next three months.

    “The bottlenecks are particularly stubborn in the case of electronic components. 44 percent do not see a better supply situation here until the second half of 2023,” says Wiechers.

    Wiechers: “Targeted immigration will be necessary”

    The shortage of skilled workers is also increasingly burdening the export-oriented German key industry. In the survey, 78 percent of the machine builders reported a noticeable or serious shortage of staff. Only 3 percent of the companies expected the situation to ease in the next three months.

    “Targeted immigration will also be necessary to reduce the labor gap,” Wiechers demanded, also with a view to the many skilled workers who will retire in the next few years.

    According to the survey, 30 percent of machine builders are currently preparing for a looming shortage of gas supplies. “About three quarters of the companies preparing for an emergency first check what options they have in their own company, for example the installation of electrical or oil-fired back-up systems,” said Wiechers.

    Some companies also rely on closer coordination with their own network operator. A third have prepared phased contingency plans. Multiple entries were possible.