Special Reports
Thursday | 20 November, 2008 | 3:03 am

Survey indicates upgrades on the way

By Modern Metals' staff

November 2008- In the third quarter of 2008, Modern Metals and Plataine Software conducted a survey of metal manufacturers. Of the 761 survey respondents, 40 percent identified themselves as metal distributors, 36 percent as metal fabricators and 7 percent represented companies that provide both distribution and fabrication services. The remaining 17 percent represented mills, machinery manufacturers and distributors, R&D organizations and consultants.

Forty-three percent of respondents represented companies with fewer than 50 employees, 18 percent reported 51 to 100 employees, 23 percent fell into the 101 to 500 employee range and 16 percent collectively represented companies with more than 500 employees.

The fabrication services most commonly provided by respondents are welding, bending and punching. And of the 306 respondents who identified themselves as distributors, 70 percent provided some type of fabricating service, with plasma cutting being the most popular value-added offering, boasting 33 percent of respondents.

All in moderation
Although the survey responses were received before the stock market tumbled, more than 70 percent of respondents forecasted moderate growth in the next 18 months. About 10 percent forecasted rapid growth, while 15 percent said business would remain flat. Only 2 percent forecasted a contraction in their business.

However, a larger part of companies that provide both distribution and fabrication services forecasted a rapid growth in business--82 percent forecasted a moderate growth, and 4 percent expected business to be flat. None of these companies expected business to significantly contract.

Strategic initiatives
Almost half (49 percent) of the respondents currently source their metal from mills, and 45 percent source from other service centers. And a significant portion of that metal is sourced domestically. More than half of the respondents stated that between 76 percent and 100 percent of their metal is sourced domestically, with another 25 percent saying that between 51 percent and 75 percent of their metal comes from domestic sources.

According to more than 40 percent of survey respondents, rising material costs is the greatest challenge the metals industry faces. Other challenges included inventory management, material supply and fixed cost issues.

Value-added, inventory management and customer service were the areas the respondents would most like to improve. And as a result, most of the respondents (72 percent) are either currently engaged in or are planning to start in the next 18 months initiatives toward production optimization. More than 50 percent are either currently engaged in or plan to start initiatives in real-time shop floor visibility and lean manufacturing. Forty-seven percent are either currently engaged in or plan to start shop floor automation in the next 18 months.

And job costing and estimating software, as well as process planning and scheduling software, are currently employed or planned to be deployed in the next 18 months by more than 50 percent of the respondents. In addition, 47 percent of the respondents either have deployed or plan to deploy shop floor tracking and flow-control software. MM


Industry Partners

Alloy Bar Products

Custom Rubber Products

Metals Distribution

Service Centers

Sierra Alloys Royal Rubber Co. ThyssenKruppnMaterials NA Heidtman Steel Products


Cutting Software

Perforated & Expanded Metal

North American Steel Alliance
Channel Alloys SigmaTEK Systems McNichols Co. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company


Cutting Systems

Plasma Technology

Thickness Gauges

Gerdau Messer Cutting Systems, Inc. ESAB Welding & Cutting Products Compusource Corporation




Enmark Systems, Inc.
Steelmax Hougen Manufacturing, Inc. Allor Manufacturing Inc.

Stainless Steel

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

Financial Services

Artco Group Stainless Sales Corp.
Multicam Inc. BMO Harris Bank Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Straub Metal International

Coated Coil

GE Capital Finance Ranger Steel

Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

American Nickeloid Metals

Investment Banking

Precision Grinding

Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.
Centria Coating Services Brown Gibbons Lang & Company Joco Precision Grinding


Metal Coaters

Laser Technology

Profiling Software


Coil Processing

AltaMAR, Inc. FastCam Pty Ltd. Central Steel Service, Inc.
Bradbury Group Amada America, Inc.

Rolled and Extruded Aluminum Products

Parker Steel Co.
Braner USA LVD Strippit Aleris Rolled Products SSAB
Burghardt + Schmidt GmbH Mitsubishi Laser-MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

Sawing Technology

Summit Steel Corporation
Butech Bliss

Machining Centers

Behringer Saws, Inc.

Steel Fabrication

Formtek-Maine Handtmann CNC Cosen International, Inc. Voortman Corporation
Herr-Voss Stamco

Material Handling

Cut Technologies Metal


IMS Systems, Inc. Canrack Metal Center Systems DoALL Sawing Products TSI Titanium
Leveltek Samuel Strapping Systems HE&M Saw


Machine Concepts Steel Storage Systems Inc. Kasto Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Red Bud Industries The Caldwell Group, Inc. Metlsaw Systems

Tube & Pipe


Metal Alloy Analysis & Verification Independence Tube Corp.

Copper & Brass

Thermo Scientific Niton Analyzers Scotchman Industries, Inc. National Tube Supply Company
Christy Metals Inc.

Metal Finishing & Deburring

Wikus Saw Technology Specialty Pipe & Tube
Farmer's Copper Supermax Tools


Turnkey Finishing System












TECHNI Waterjet


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