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

Executive Search Services

Sawing Technology

Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

Sierra Alloys Leadership Search Group Advanced Machine & Engineering Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.


Investment Banking

Amada Machine Tools America, Inc.


Channel Alloys Brown Gibbons Lang & Company Cosen Saws Central Steel Service, Inc.
Kaiser Aluminum

Laser Cutting Machines

HE&M Saw Pacesetter Steel Service, Inc.
Sapa Extrusions North America Trumpf Hydmech Parker Steel Co.


Laser Technology

Klingelhofer Corporation Steel Dynamics
Gerdau Special Steel North America Amada America, Inc. Lenox Summit Steel Corporation

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

LVD Strippit Marvel Manufacturing

Steel Service Center

Multicam Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Sawblade.com Samuel, Son & Co., Limited

CNC Machinery

Mitsubishi Laser-MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

Service Centers

Thickness Gauges

Voortman Corporation Vytek Admiral Steel Advanced Gauging Technologies

Coated Coil

Material Handling

North American Steel Alliance


Centria Coating Services Combilift USA Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company TSI Titanium
Metal Coaters Samuel Strapping Systems United Performance Metals


Coil Processing

Steel Storage Systems Inc.


Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Alcos Machinery Inc. The Caldwell Group, Inc. Compusource Corporation

Tube & Pipe

ANDRITZ Herr-Voss Stamco Inc.

Perforated & Expanded Metal

Enmark Systems, Inc. Independence Tube Corp.
Bradbury Group McNichols Co.

Stainless Steel

Tube Mill Equipment & Machinery

Braner USA


Rolled Alloys ASMAG USA, Inc.
Butech Bliss Allor Manufacturing Inc. Scan Tube/Nebetco Stainless


Delta Steel Technologies Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Stainless Sales Corporation Koike Aronson
Red Bud Industries Ranger Steel Venus Stainless NA

Welding & Cutting

Copper & Brass

Portable Analytical Instruments

Stainless Steel Service Center

American Torch Tip
Christy Metals Inc. Thermo Scientific Portable Analytical Instruments Comprinox


Farmer's Copper




National Bronze & Metals





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