Industry Watch



SPI's Committee on Equipment Statistics recently released data on plastics processing equipment sales in 2001. The report, as this table reflects, confirmed many suppliers' worst fears, with shipments off anywhere from 40 to 60 percent compared to 2000.

2001 equipment orders fall sharply
Several indicators pointed to 2001 as being a dreadful year for the plastics industry as a whole, with equipment suppliers enduring an especially bleak time. Some newly released data reveal just how difficult a year 2001 was.

The information, detailed in a report from the Society of the Plastics Industry's Committee on Equipment Statistics, reveals a precipitous dropoff as shipments and new orders dived by 40 to 60 percent in 2001, compared to 2000.

The report is based on monthly order and shipment data gathered from domestic suppliers of injection molding, blowmolding, extrusion, auxiliary, and components equipment. Participants in the report shipped $1.045 billion in products in 2001, compared to $1.752 billion for 2000—a 40.4 percent decrease. First quarter 2001 new orders marked the beginning of the eventual shipment decline, falling to $312.5 million from $404.6 in the final quarter of 2000.

Also in the first quarter of 2001, new orders outpaced shipments, creating a backlog of 1.2 percent. By Q4 2001 that backlog had reached 24.6 percent.

Injection molding equipment fell 44.2 percent overall in units, the second highest total by process, and 43.9 percent in dollars. Overall auxiliary shipments fell 33.1 percent in dollar value. The only gains were posted by blowmolding; shipments in this sector were up a modest 4.3 percent in units and 28.1 percent in dollars.





Medical manufacturers join forces
The contract manufacturing boom that has taken over the electronics industry appears to be migrating to the medical products market. In early May, self-described medical contract manufacturer Avail Medical Products Inc. (Ft. Worth, TX) announced its merger with Horizon Medical Outsourcing (Santa Ana, CA), creating what Avail says is the largest outsource manufacturer of finished, disposable medical devices.

Avail President and CEO J. Randall Keene told IMM that the two companies have actually had on-again off-again merger discussions since 1994, and in May decided finally to tie the knot. Keene says Avail lends strong design, product development, and moldbuilding skills. Horizon specializes in developing turnkey manufacturing solutions.

Most of Horizon's injection molding needs are met by custom molders, and Keene says he expects that will continue. He also says there will be no immediate consolidation of facilities or personnel. In fact, he plans to expand services: "The win for us is not moving molds around," he says. "The win for us is meeting our customers' needs on new projects."

Under terms of the merger, Horizon retains its name, but becomes an Avail company. Keene will retain his titles, and Horizon President William A. Goolsbee adds the title executive vice president, Avail, to his business card. Together the companies expect 2002 revenues of about $135 million.





Wittmann adds water products to the lineup
Equipment supplier Wittmann has announced the acquisition of Capitol Temptrol. The move adds a full water product line to Wittmann's already extensive portfolio of auxiliaries and equipment, but it also reflects consolidation that will likely continue in an industry reeling from abysmal sales in 2001.

Apart from gaining size during a downturn, the move also adds portable and central chillers to Wittmann's stable of dryers, material handling equipment, robots, automation systems, and granulators. For Capitol Temptrol, the deal backs its products with the sales structure and resources needed for growth, according to Wittmann Capitol Temptrol Div. Manager Fred Heine.

"The two things that Capitol Temptrol did not have as a small operating entity were the financial resources and the sales network that we've got with Wittmann," Heine said.

Heine says the combined assets benefit Wittmann and its customers and help establish a global presence for Capitol Temptrol. "Wittmann now represents a complete line of auxiliaries including water, which allows them to go in as a single group," Heine said. "Place one order and have one system and one group backing it up. I think that is a tremendous advantage for everyone."





Short shots
Cascade Engineering (Grand Rapids, MI) has acquired the assets of Clarion Technologies (Montpelier, OH), creating a new company called CK Technologies.

BM Biraghi SpA (Monza, Italy) has joined the Sacmi Group (Milan, Italy), which already has a 60 percent share in Negri Bossi SpA (Milan, Italy).

After first opening its doors in January 1998, Micro Molding LLC (Boynton Beach, FL) abruptly closed them on April 9.

Dow Corning Corp. (Midland, MI) has acquired thermoplastics compounder Multibase SA (St. Laurent, France). Multibase has facilities in Michigan, Ohio, and India. 

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