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Machine tools

Spanish machine-tool manufacturer association AFM production by the association's member companies, which account for 78 per cent of the sector in Spain, amounted to 1,056.7 million euros in 2008, un increase of  0.9 per cent  over the previous year's figure.

Innovation, design and quality are key factors in the strategy of an industry that is constantly evolving, which competes on the international scene and which in a few short years has climbed from twelfth to ninth place in the world list of machine-tool producing countries. 

This particular industrial activity has a long tradition in the Basque Country. 78 per cent of all Spanish machine-tool production comes from the Basque Country, as does 82 per cent of all its exports. 

Spanish machine-tool manufacturer association AFM, which has its headquarters at the Basque technology park in Miramón, San Sebastián, highlighted the fact that Spanish machine-tool exports enjoyed un increase of 18.4 per cent. Sales totalled 736 million euros altogether, accounting for  69.7 per cent of total production.

The need to compete in foreign markets has been a decisive factor in encouraging local firms to work towards devising their own technology and creating a broad range of products whose flexibility and adaptability in the face of changing demand makes them highly competitive. In this context, it comes as no surprise to find that the Spanish and Basque machine tool industry has a good number of major multinationals and other large companies from such highly demanding sectors as the aerospace and automotive industries on its customer portfolio. The European Airbus consortium, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot, Renault, Volvo, Nissan and Chrysler are all on the list. This distinguished customer roster also goes a long way to explaining the fact that 64 per cent of the value of the production is accounted for by machines equipped with cutting-edge numeric control technologies and that the product range includes more than two thousand different models.

One of the fundamental reasons for the success of the Basque machine tools sector is the commitment to innovation and technological development of the companies involved. According to the manufacturers' association AFM, manufacturers channel 5% of their turnover into these activities, which are the key to competitiveness, and produce over 2000 different models of machines with their own technology. The efforts of companies are reinforced by schemes such as the Machine Tool Industrial Research Foundation (Invema) which encourages development, offers technological services and promotes inter-company and auxiliary management programmes. Basque manufacturers are assisted by a series of specialised technology centres that have accepted the challenge of developing permanent innovation. Outstanding examples of this initiative include Fatronik System, a group formed by 14 manufacturers for joint work in technology, training and promotion, Ideko, Tekniker, Ikerlan, Gaiker and Robotiker.

Training is a fundamental aspect of the competitiveness of Basque companies in the sector. The IMH (Machine Tool Institute) in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa, plays a very important role. AFM chairs the Institute Board, and public institutions, manufacturing and user companies, trade unions, etc. also participate. The IMH promotes technological training and the dissemination of technological knowledge. Although in the beginning its activity focused exclusively on the region of the Basque Country, other Spanish autonomous communities have gradually shown their interest in the services and training programmes offered by the Institute. For the last few years technicians from south-east Asia have been welcomed to the Institute and projects are carried out in collaboration with Latin American countries. Thanks to its technical training courses for the metal and mechanics industries, the IMH is today a vanguard centre in the professional training network in the Basque Country.

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(Source: Presidency of the Government - General Secretariat for Communication )

Fecha de la última modificación: 25/08/2009