The market votes with its checkbook.

The market votes with its checkbook. Sometimes there’s no better indicator of economic and technological trends than the statistics on where processors are spending their money and how much. Unfortunately, the data tends to arrive well after the fact. Each autumn, Plastics Technology tries to get a jump on these trends by asking our readers how much they plan to spend, and on what, in the coming year. Several thousand of you will be receiving our 2008 Capital Spending Forecast survey questionnaire in a couple of months.

The forecasts for 2005 to 2007 were each based on 750 to 950 responses, about half from injection molders. These plants planned to spend around $5 billion a year in capital equipment. The dollars per plant grew 32% from 2005 to ’06 and another 6.4% from ’06 to ’07. In each of those years, about two-thirds of the equipment budget was for new hardware, one-fifth for used, and one-eighth for rebuilding.

The table shows some interesting details. About 21% of the dollars budgeted for injection presses this year are for energy-saving all-electric machines, a little less than in the previous two years. The budgeted percentage for electric machines is nearly as big for vertical as for horizontal units. Electric-hydraulic hybrids did not attract many budget dollars, and hydraulic presses still account for 50% to 60% of the total. Multi-component molding drew only 7% to 8% of the budget for presses.

In auxiliary equipment, materials handling was at the top of the spending plans for all processors in the survey. Robots came in second, and cooling and blending equipment next.


PROCESSORS’ CAPITAL SPENDING PLANS (Source: Plastics Technology Annual Survey)Injection Molding Machines (% of Total $) 200720062005Avg.All-Electric20.729.725.925.4Hybrid (E/H)8.54.910.37.9Hydraulic64.152.260.859.0Multi-Component6.813.23.07.7Auxiliary Equipment/Components (% of Total $) 200720062005Avg.Materials Handling11.214.417.514.4Robots11.29.711.610.8Chillers, Cooling Towers10., Additive Feeders10.412.413.612.1Screws, Barrels9. Temp. Controls9. Conveyors3.62.6NA3.1Resin Testing3.