Some prices finally fall

Regular readers of this column may notice that the demand data in the Plant Engineering operating materials and supplies table have been revised downward. In some cases, the revisions are significant. For example, in the 12 months ending July 2001, end-market demand for lubricating oils was revised from 7.


Regular readers of this column may notice that the demand data in the Plant Engineering operating materials and supplies table have been revised downward. In some cases, the revisions are significant. For example, in the 12 months ending July 2001, end-market demand for lubricating oils was revised from 7.7% to 4.8%. Demand for abrasive products like grinding wheels was revised from 12.5% to 7.4% and end-market growth for adhesives and sealants was adjusted from 11% to 6.4% over the same 12-month period.

The growth in U.S. end-markets that we report is based on industrial production data from the Federal Reserve Board. The updated measures reflect the incorporation of newly available, more comprehensive source data and the introduction of improved methods for compiling a few series.

Overall, industrial output is now reported to have increased at a slower rate in 1999 and 2000 than previously reported. Despite the downward revision, the general contour is the same as in the earlier estimates. After having picked up in the second half of 1999 and after having posted rapid gains in the first half of 2000, increases in industrial output abated noticeably at mid-year. According to the revised data, however, industrial output was weaker in the second half of 2000 than in the earlier estimates. In 2001, industrial production declined at about 5

With these revisions impacting factory operating materials and supplies, end-market growth now are slowing or falling more rapidly in our near-term forecasts. Prices for factory operating supplies, meanwhile, will show even stronger deflationary trends in the months ahead.

Price/cost/demand roundup

Industry SIC Average Product Prices Average Product Prices Direct Mfg. Costs Direct Mfg. Costs Growth in U.S. End Markets Growth in U.S. End Markets
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.
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.
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:
Wood pallets and skids24480.540.56FallingA+-1.92-4.17
Polishes and sanitation goods28421.000.93FallingB2.001.62
Surface active agents28432.842.69FallingC-3.12-3.95
Adhesives and sealants28913.043.36FallingB6.391.55
Lubricating oils and greases29927.707.29Falling FastB4.781.19
Rubber and plastics hose and belting30522.313.20StableA0.95-2.00
Abrasive products3291-0.090.09StableD7.361.08
Steel wire and related products3315-1.07-1.42StableF3.221.84
Copper rolling and drawing33511.07-2.52FallingC21.218.55
Nonferrous wire drawing and insulating33571.84-0.72FallingB22.2810.20
Heating equipment, except electric34331.241.24StableA1.470.49
Fabricated plate work, boiler shops34431.061.01FallingA2.78-0.65
Bolts, nuts, rivets and washers34520.060.07FallingC3.482.10
Industrial valves34911.691.77StableA1.470.06
Fluid power valves and hose fittings34921.441.34StableA1.470.06
Other valves and pipe fittings34942.783.91FallingA1.470.06
Miscellaneous fabricated wire products34960.130.31FallingC5.120.66
Fabricated pipe and fittings34981.911.37StableA1.470.06
Ball and roller bearings35621.460.91StableA3.77-0.76

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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

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