The order intake for the SMS group in 2009 is expected to drop to less than half of 2008’s result (2008: €5.15bn).

Capacity use has hardly been affected, because the company is still working its way through a high stock of orders from the boom years. That also explains why sales in 2009 are set to match the previous year’s level of €3.6bn.

Short-time work has already started in some areas, and it looks likely to spread in the course of next year.

Dr Heinrich Weiss, chairman of the SMS group said it would use the crisis to develop its technology. Investment programmes will go ahead as planned, with budgets increased anti-cyclically to make the most of low purchase prices.

Despite the crisis, the trainee quota in the group is currently 7% of the workforce – much higher than the industry average. Close cooperation with schools and universities, the SMS student support scheme, tailor-made introduction programmes for newly-qualified engineers, and the SMS Akademie demonstrate the emphasis on training.