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There is solace too in the UK market figures and survey data, which present a more optimistic prospect.  In the words of MTA President Bob Hunt “We are on the way back. The panic has subsided. Confidence is returning and the second half of ’09 was much better than the first.”

However there is a concern that the level of invoiced sales is not showing a consequent increase and remains very low. This lag between orders and sales for machinery , while a known phenomenon in the market, is likely to cause especial trouble in the next few months as companies may struggle to find the cash to meet their working capital requirements. Of course the dangers that cashflow can pose to companies at the time of exiting a recession are understood from previous recessions but the concern at this time must be significantly exacerbated by the difficulty of credit conditions.

Visitor registration for the show is now fully open and can be accessed via the MACH 2010 website at As always entry to MACH is free of charge and there is no cost to register to visit the UK's premier manufacturing technologies event. Registering only takes five minutes and involves providing the MACH team with a few simple details.

Once again entrants for the competition were of exceptional quality and finalists ranged from a chair made from sustainable materials to a cycle water bottle, sports MP3 player and a garden watering device. The judges met contestants, discussed their projects and deliberated before deciding on the best three entries in the 15-16 age group and 17-19 age group.

The winners are:
15-16 age group

The competition encourages 15-19 year old school pupils to enter their GSCE and A-Level coursework for judging by a panel of industry experts in order to find the most innovative invention. You might expect such competitions to attract entries with paper-mache models, a box or a metal candle holder – but you would be wrong. Previous years have seen a fully working industrial fence post remover, kayak roof-rack system, car safety equipment and a host of other inventive projects, many of which approach professional standards.

107 of the MTA's membership have taken space in the exhibition halls 4 and 5 at the NEC in Birmingham for MACH 2010, taking place from 7 -11 June 2010. One of those members is Ward CNC,  who are taking their largest ever stand for MACH 2010 - a massive 500m2.  Simon Whitworth from the company explains why:

During a well-received fifteen minute speech Mr Bob Hunt stated that manufacturing is the route to returning this country to its future prosperity, but that manufacturers and the Government must take the lead to create demand. Specifically he asked that Government take further measures to stimulate the economy, give less emphasis to recruitment and more emphasis on retaining existing staff and to re-introduce the temporary short-time working subsidy in such a key sector, as an alternative to unemployment benefits.

Demand for machine tools in the UK is forecast to fall by -5% in 2008, by -14% next year and a further -10% in 2010 (all figures are compared to the previous year).  By historical standards, this represents a relatively modest downturn; in making the forecast MTA have identified some positive factors such as lower interest rates, the weak £ (many machine tool purchasers in the UK are exporters who will benefit from the weak currency) and the fact that order books are reasonably strong which will help to keep sales at a good level in the short-term.

The much-heralded VAT reduction will have little or no effect on the business of our members. The changes in corporation tax, empty property tax and income shifting tax rises have only been deferred for 12 months. The rise in national insurance contributions promised in 2011 is a tax on jobs, which will stifle recovery. The rise in fuel duty will have an adverse effect on our members.

MTA President Bob Hunt in his speech to guests admitted that we were in uncertain times and that although this was not a manufacturing led recession the MTA did expect some downturn in the manufacturing technologies sector. However he went on to say: