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Fabricators Project Better Investment Plans in 2018

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If capital outlays on heavy equipment are one sign of a healthy metals industry, 2018 could be shaping up as a very good year.

The Fabricators and Manufacturers Association surveyed more than 400 of its readers about their capital spending plans for 2018. The trade group released the results of their survey during an economic outlook breakfast during the November FABTECH event at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Respondents to the survey projected significant gains in spending compared with their forecasts for recent years. The 400-plus respondents anticipated spending of $2.76 billion in 2017, a 20.6 percent increase compared with the previous year. Fabricators had predicted relatively flat spending levels from 2015-17.

The increases were seen across the board, with the largest gains expected in laser cutting equipment, up 40.0 percent to $262.4 million; plasma cutting machines, up 26.0 percent to $149.7 million; and welding consumables and power supplies, up 16.2 percent to $527,2 million.

Coil processing equipment spending was also expected to grow significantly in 2018, FMA reports. Accumulator purchases were projected to grow 145.4 percent, cut-to-length purchases were anticipated to increase 18.1 percent and leveling equipment spending was predicted to grow 14.3 percent. Slitting equipment was the only major coil processing equipment projected to see declines among the respondents.

The survey results correspond with anecdotal observations made during this year’s event. Over the course of the four-day event, fabricators, manufacturers and service centers in attendance expressed an optimism about the present, and near-future, with greater fervor than I’ve seen over the past decade.

Here’s hoping the survey, as well as the anecdotal projections, prove accurate in 2018.

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