Strong Gains in Plastics Industry

Sept. 17, 2014
2013 gains in plastics machinery demand is sustained through first half of 2014.

Shipments of primary plastics equipment rose 10% in the first half of 2014, accelerating momentum gained in the second half of last year, according to a quarterly survey from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.

SPI’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) released the report for the second quarter, noting that shipments dipped slightly compared to the first quarter but still finished up for the first half of the year when compared to the same period in 2013. The report surveys manufacturers of plastic injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming, hot runners, and auxiliary equipment.

Shipments of primary plastics equipment totaled roughly $299.3 million in the second quarter, compared to $300.3 million in the first quarter.

A closer look at the CES data shows that shipments of injection molding machinery increased in the second quarter when compared to the same period last year, rising 9%. Shipments of single-screw extruders slipped 2%, while shipments of twin-screw extruders jumped 63%.  Shipments of blow molding machines edged down 2% in the second quarter.

The CES also compiles data on the auxiliary equipment segment (robotics, temperature control, materials handling) of the plastics machinery industry. New bookings of auxiliary equipment for companies surveyed totaled a record-breaking $108 million in the second quarter—up 21% compared to the same period last year.

“The manufacturers of plastics machinery that anticipated strong demand and then allocated resources accordingly are being richly rewarded for their efforts in 2014, especially in North America," said Bill Wood, the plastics market economist who analyzes and reports on the plastics machinery market sector for the CES. "Those companies that hired new workers, increased production capacity, invested in inventories, or all of the above are reaping large returns on those investments this year. As I said before, we are entering the sweet spot of the capital expenditure cycle. It is a good time for plastics manufacturing in the U.S.”

The CES also reported that the majority of companies surveyed in the second quarter—90%--expect conditions to stay the same or even improve next quarter, and that 88% expect conditions to hold steady or get better over the next year.

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