Construction materials carry higher price tags

Some key construction materials have seen some wicked price hikes in early 2004. Most notably, oriented-strand board (OSB), the structural wood panels that have been replacing more expensive plywood products, saw prices soar 47% from January to February 2004. The causes for price hikes like that have been due to the long-running hot housing market and increased demand from the U.


Some key construction materials have seen some wicked price hikes in early 2004. Most notably, oriented-strand board (OSB), the structural wood panels that have been replacing more expensive plywood products, saw prices soar 47% from January to February 2004. The causes for price hikes like that have been due to the long-running hot housing market and increased demand from the U.S. military for building supplies needed in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with tight capacity among the five major players in the North American OSB market.

Our existing construction supplies price and cost indices do not include OSB. That will be corrected in the next version of our special index data. Without OSB prices, our aggregate construction supplies price index increased just 1.9% in 2003 while the commensurate cost index grew 2.4%.

Spikes in demand and short supplies can have a large impact on prices. But to understand the long-run trend, underlying cost trends are critical, too. Plus when we look at cost trends relative to price trends, we also get insights into the price changes that will bring margins back to sustainable levels.

For example, look at the brethren to OSB, the softwood plywood industry. Average product prices increased 19.8% in 2003. From January to February 2004, prices soared again by 21.8%. Yet, we are forecasting only a 5% overall price hike in 2004. The fact that domestic materials costs as well as labor costs are under control is part of the reason. The other factor can be found in our unique price target analysis. As of December 2003, in order to restore inflation-adjusted margins to 5-yr average levels, we calculate that plywood prices have room to fall 17.2%. It will be interesting to see the price targets for reconstituted wood products like OSB.

Price/cost/demand roundup

Major Components of Manufacturing Costs Annual % Change in 2003 Average Product Prices Annual % Change
Industry SIC Domestic materials Imported materials Production labor Energy 2003 Forecast 2004
1 Average product price changes are calculated from the producer price index for each 4-digit SIC (standard industrial classification) industry from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2 Analyses of each industry's direct manufacturing cost changes are from Thinking Cap Solutions, Inc.'s proprietary Industry Cost Escalation (ICE) model. The "grade" indicates that recent price/cost changes have produced record high (A+) margins to average margins (C) to record low (F-) margins for the average producer in an industry. Grades of A to A+ mean plant engineers may be able to strike a better bargain with suppliers and better control plant costs.
3 Growth in U.S. end markets data are from the ICE model and are estimates of output for the domestic end markets which purchase a given industry's products.
All data prepared and presented by Thinking Cap Solutions, Inc., Port Angeles, WA (telephone: 360-452-6159; e-mail:
General Sawmills and Planing Mills24210.433.941.869.497.72.0
Hardwood Veneer and Plywood24354.0914.064.899.17-2.10.1
Softwood Veneer and Plywood24363.6213.811.899.8919.85.0
Metal Partitions and Fixtures25423.025.651.2211.561.10.8
Paints and Allied Products28514.873.261.2011.852.91.1
Flat Glass32111.322.10-1.7416.36-1.51.5
Other Structural Clay Products32593.072.942.9817.412.41.6
Gypsum Products32751.351.712.0916.983.14.0
Mineral Wool32962.583.333.1512.272.01.3
Steel Pipe and Tubes33173.625.093.2211.354.8-1.2
Plumbing Fittings and Brass Goods34321.644.134.0011.890.60.8
Metal Doors, Sash and Trim34421.453.113.3210.891.01.3
Sheet Metal Work34442.114.262.0511.880.70.6
Refrigeration and Heating Equipment35850.981.503.709.120.30.9
Current-Carrying Wiring Devices36432.822.192.687.04-1.20.3
Noncurrent-Carrying Wiring Devices36442.692.192.758.840.31.4
Commercial Lighting Fixtures36461.490.731.7813.172.11.2
Environmental Controls38220.671.194.126.74-0.91.0

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me