Plastics machinery shipments increase

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The shipments of plastics machinery increased sharply during the fourth quarter of 2014, according to statistics provided by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

“Annual shipments of plastics machinery increased for the fifth straight year in 2014, and the economic fundamentals that favor continued investment in capital equipment are expected to persist through 2015 as well,” says Bill Wood, the plastics market economist who analyzes and reports on the plastics machinery market sector for the CES.

Shipments of primary plastics equipment (injection molding, extrusion and blow molding equipment) for reporting companies totaled $346.1 million during the fourth quarter, a 9.8 percent increase from the revised shipments total of $315.1 million during the third quarter of 2014, and was up a solid 8 percent when compared with the total from 2013’s fourth quarter.

For 2014 as a whole, the total value of primary equipment shipments increased 7.6 percent compared with 2013’s full-year shipment total.

According to the SPI, the upward trend in the CES data on plastics machinery shipments corresponds with the long-term trends in the two major data series compiled by the U.S. government that measure overall demand for industrial machinery. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, business investment in industrial equipment increased 16 percent during the fourth quarter when compared with fourth quarter of 2013, and the annual total for investment in 2014 was up 13 percent.

The other important machinery market indicator, compiled by the Census Bureau, showed that the total value of new orders of industrial machinery jumped 20 percent in fourth quarter when compared with the total from fourth quarter of 2013, and for the year as a whole in 2014 industrial machinery orders were up a 30 percent.

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. The responses from the fourth quarter survey indicate that machinery suppliers remain optimistic about the market demand for their products in the coming months. When asked about expectations for future market conditions, 92 percent of the respondents expect conditions to stay the same or even improve in the coming quarter, and 94 percent expect them to hold steady or improve during the next 12 months.

There was a strong consensus that North America is the global region where the most promising market conditions for machinery suppliers are expected in the coming year. Expectations for Mexico were also high. Expectations for Latin America call for mostly steady market conditions, a bit of an improvement from the last quarter. Expectations for Asia and Europe, which were mostly unchanged from the third quarter, call for demand to hold steady.

As for the major end markets, the respondents to the fourth quarter survey still expect that automotive and medical will remain strong in terms of demand for plastics products and equipment. Expectations for all other end markets call for steady-to-better demand to prevail in 2015.

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