Machine, electrical engineering and metals industry

The machine, electrical engineering and metals industry is the largest industrial employer in Switzerland and one of the country’s leading exporters.

Machine-maker working on a part
Swissmem is the association of the Swiss mechanical engineering, electrical equipment and metals industries. © Swissmem

The machine, electrical engineering and metals industry (or MEM, for short) has a total workforce of 320,000. 99% of the companies are SMEs with less than 250 employees. The sector employs over 500,000 people internationally and is Switzerland’s second largest exporter, worth CHF 63 billion in 2015, 31% of total Swiss exports. Almost 60% of MEM industry exports go to the EU. 

The origins of the industry go back to the 19th century and textile manufacturing. When Swiss companies began mechanising production, they developed their own machines so as not to have to rely on their competitors in England to supply them with the equipment they needed. 

Today, Swiss MEM firms are some of the most competitive in the world, particularly machine tool producers and manufacturers of machines for the textile and printing industries. In absolute figures, Switzerland is among the 10 largest exporters of machinery in the world. 

There are over 2,500 companies working in this industry. The major players are ABB, Alstom, Liebherr, Georg Fischer, Sulzer, Bucher Industries, Bühler Holding and Schindler.

Additional information