3rd October 2001, 14:56
Dear Powder / Bulk People,
An American consulting company has sent me the following message and I would like to ask you to post your comments here, since this question is of considerable importance to many companies around the world. We should perhaps not restrict our comments to the European situation but also include the situation in North America and other areas.
The many visitors to this Forum will be interested in what you may have to contribute. Thank you.
Do you have any feel for what impact the current U. S. economic slowdown is having on the powder and bulk solids markets in Europe or what predictions are for the next couple of quarters? We have been asked to talk about that subject at*an upcoming international conference. With the latest bleak news from Wall Street, it's hard for us to know from our limited perspective what expectations are for our industry not only here in the U. S. but abroad. However, with your many connections to the industry, perhaps you have a better feel for what European companies are planning to do or are saying they will do in the next six months to a year. Perhaps that's a subject that has been addressed recently or will be addressed soon in your publication. Do you have any insight you can offer?
We would very much appreciate it if you would post*that question to your online readers.
3rd October 2001, 21:51
Sorry but my crystal ball has rolled off the table and split in two. Seriously, we see a nervousness in the marketplace but this atmosphere has prevailed for more than 5 years. This is a difficult business to forecast as the projects are usually very large with budgets in the US$ 100's of millions and sometimes exceeding US$ billion. The clients do not make decisions quickly or without much second guessing. The recent events have definitely put a damper on the business atmosphere in NA, SA and Europe but the fallout will surely take several months, maybe years. No one can guess the outcome over the next year but it's pretty well understood that things will not get better.
Entropy is increasing, that's a fundamental law of science. That bag of marbles that you dropped on the floor when a child have yet to return to the bag by themselves. When they do, maybe it will be a better world. We are one race from one planet with one superior; it's too bad that we all don't share a mutual respect for our neighbours.
4th October 2001, 12:13
Powder & Bulk Quo Vadis?
In general I can say there is a slight slow down, most compagnies waiting a few months with investments, but still go on.
So we may have a dip within the next 2 or three months and thereafter everything is back to normal.
> Director of Marketing
> Mesys BV
> The Netherlands
> www: http://www.mesys.nl
4th October 2001, 12:28
Powder / Bulk Quo Vadis?
we do have the impression that no direct consequences will take place for planned projects in our market following the 11th September attack.
Nevertheless we do feel a certain reluctance from client's side to make any capital investment up to the moment the worldwide political situation will be more transparent.
It is really more a psychological barrier then a logical reason.
Fuller Kovako B.V.
4th October 2001, 13:36
I work at a company designing and building food processing plants. I do up-front planning and budgeting. Our clients have resurrected idle projects and started new projects since Sept 11. We are busier now than before. Some of these projects include significant bulk material handling systems. Of course, some of these projects will never get executed but I feel optimistic.
4th October 2001, 14:07
As I am involved mainly in the fertilizer and related markets, I can only comment on this area. Clearly, capital projects are delayed or cancelled, but is mainly due to the weak economic situation in this industry segment. I do not believe that the events of Sept 11 have any significant bearing on the situation. However, we should not underestimate the indirect fallout of recent events. There is a tremendous amount of "domino effects" occurring throughout the American economy, and this will have some negative effects on the bulk solids industry as a whole.
4th October 2001, 15:31
Powder / Bulk Quo Vadis
The only message we have based on the poor buying response ( last 10 months) from our customers:
a- tighten your belt -double- strong
b- understand that your U.S. customers (processors) at times have laid off plant managers and process engineers by now. Often times their jobs are
handled by maintenance personal. As a supplier you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. Help the overworked maintenance man, who now has 3
jobs, and is still nervous that his plant may be closed and transplanted to Mexico or China.
c- invent rapidly new product features. Be first ! Keep in mind your competitor is laying off design engineers and marketing personal day by day. President Bush said yesterday: "We are an entrepreneurial country. "
Bulk / Powder people need to act as entrepreneurs again.
d- start gorilla marketing, if you do not do it, your competitor will do it anyway. The recession will last at least until 4th quarter of 2002. You need to offer cut-throat pricing.
e- as an US equipment manufacturer, observe the progress of Indian / Chinese processors / markets. Growth is there. China is a full partner of the world
trade organization as of the end of this year. For a lot of US equipment manufacturers the train is gone when it comes to the China market, where a worker costs US $ 80.00 / month. Besides global terrorism, there is global
powder/bulk marketing. Touch screen, PLC-powered equipment controls are nothing new to those markets. Whoever wants to survive the next 16 months is forced to wake up today or better retire this afternoon. Small US equipment manufacturers / fabricators don't believe it - they cannot be helped any more if they do not get themselves a passport and travel the Far East to see
f- understand that the Japanese have the highest unemployment rate since World War 2. Even zero financing does not help their industry any more.
Hope this helps your US friend,
734 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60610
4th October 2001, 15:41
Powder / Bulk Quo Vadis?
As far as I know my company is still planning on making planned capital purchases. A couple larger items may be pushed back by a quarter or so.
Mr. Will Shambley
Materials Processing Engineer
Burlington, MA 01803
4th October 2001, 15:49
Powder / Bulk Quo Vadis?
That question regarding what European companies are doing could probably be better answered by my colleagues Mr. Brian Holmes and Mr. Mike Redmond at Hägglunds U.K.
From our perspective here in North America, we have seen a slight slowdown of activity in Alberta, Canada (Oil Sands) and this will probably worsen if oil prices continue to stay low. We will continue to particpate as normal and even step up our person-to-person contacts with the people involved in the powder and bulk community and see if we can continue to assist our customers in achieving a better output and product.
Hägglunds Drives Inc.
Columbus, OH 43228
4th October 2001, 16:17
Powder / Bulk Quo Vadis?
I personally do not own a crystal ball so, I rely more upon my gut feeling, which by the way, is so accurate that it is sometimes scary. Call it intuition.
From the perspective of a capital equipment and machinery manufacturer, I believe that most processors have, unfortunately, put all new projects on
hold. This is not surprising considering the downturn in the economy and the decreased demand for durable and consumer goods.
The only area where I see potential, for new capital equipment sales, is in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and food supplement areas.
For the next three years, I believe that processors will be spending more money on maintenance and repair of existing equipment. As for equipment replacements, this will be a good time for used equipment dealers.
Original equipment manufacturers, such as ourselves, need to give more attention to repair parts sales and service and expand service to include the rebuilding and refurbishing of equipment and machinery.
Kirk C. Wiggins
Savannah, GA 31408
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