Machinery shipments flat in the third quarter

The value of primary plastics machinery (injection moulding and extrusion) shipments in North America decreased marginally in the third quarter according to the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS).

Shipments were valued at $293.7 million for the quarter, with single- and twin-screw extruder shipments up by 5.3 and 13.9 per cent respectively, but injection moulding down 1.9 per cent.

While these figures look flat across the year, shipments are actually down by nearly 16 per cent from a year ago, while twin-screw extruders down markedly by 29.3 per cent.

“The plastics industry is a mature industry and its growth will continue to track gross domestic product,” said PLASTICS’ chief economist Perc Pineda. “The third quarter numbers moving sideways are in sync with weaker manufacturing activity in the economy this year.”

PLASTICS’ Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) conducted a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers and found that 39 per cent expect market conditions for the coming quarter to either improve or hold steady. As for the next 12 months, 63 per cent expect market conditions to be steady-to-better, up from 53 per cent in the previous quarter’s survey.

Mexico, Canada, and Germany remained the largest US export markets. The combined exports to these countries represented 48 per cent of US plastics machinery exports in the third quarter. China was the fourth largest market in the third quarter with plastics machinery exports totalling $22.2 million, which was 27.6 per cent lower than the second quarter.

“The challenges and concerns of the business sector of the economy today, and plastics industry is no exception, are largely driven first by external factors – weak global economic growth and ongoing trade disputes – feeding into the US which is largely an open economy,” said Pineda. “It is safe to say, that it is unlikely that the ongoing trade disputes will be resolved this year.”