For North American decision-makers in the paper, film and foil converting industries, business in 2011-12 looks to be a damn sight better than the bad times of The Great Recession. An online survey conducted earlier this year by ICE USA tradeshow organizer Mack Brooks Exhibitions gathered the opinions of more than 100 converting users. Some of the results follow:
- 78% of survey respondents expect growth in 2011-12; a little more than half forecast strong growth for the overall market. Only 9% predict a decline.
- As for 2011 vs. last year, more than 70% say their company’s business will grow, 24% think it will remain steady, but only 4% expect a decline.
- Among the greatest production challenges: 42% said reducing costs; 32% checked optimizing product quality; 28% said maximizing availability; 24% listed increasing automation; and 21% mentioned “environmentally friendly” production.
- Food tops the list of “most important” market sectors for 37% of respondents. Next up were automotive (31%), electronics (23%), textiles/nonwovens and industrial films (both at 17%) and pharma/medical (16%).
- Some of the “most interesting new-market sectors” flagged by respondents:
No. 1 was lithium batteries at 33%. Tied for second-place were intelligent films, medical and solar-energy products at 24%. Biodegradable and biopolymer films were a close third with 22%, and security products were checked by 19%.
My Thoughts: As far as I’m concerned, the US converting industry is back…stronger than ever. There are still some rough patches to work through, but this survey and more by other sources are pointing toward a brighter year now and into 2012. The successful launch of ICE USA 2011 in Orlando also shows that the industry still values machinery tradeshows and comprehensive, concurrent conferences. There’s definitely a backlog of capital-equipment investment need, not only in North America but in places like Central Europe and Germany. That’s good for both domestic and foreign suppliers, and if they’re doing well, it can only mean good things are brewing among their converted-product manufacturing customers—in other words, YOU.