Each week, we see more news of the dip occurring in the industrial market here in the U.S. and beyond. Industrial markets and shipments are down and have been across the board, particularly in the fluid power space.
For example, the NFPA has indicated mobile hydraulic, industrial hydraulic and pneumatic shipments decreased when compared to last year and decreased when compared to last month. Preliminary November 2019 shipments of fluid power products decreased 15.0% compared to November 2018 and decreased 17.1% when compared to October 2019.
And, the Canadian Fluid Power Association also reported that according to Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, manufacturing sales fell for the third straight month in November, down by 0.6% to $57.0 billion. This follows an upwardly revised 0.2% decline in October and a 0.1% dip in September.
Finally, U.S. manufacturing technology orders fell 15% in November from the previous month to $320 million, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report published by AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology. For the first 11 months in 2019, manufacturing technology orders were $4.1 billion, down 19% from $5 billion in 2018 which was an especially strong year.
But despite indicators like these, manufacturers and users are optimistic about the industry. The U.S. Manufacturing Technology Industry is generally optimistic about 2020 despite decrease in November orders, said Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT.
Members of the NFPA echoed these sentiments readily at the NFPA Annual Conference last week in Miami, too, with several presentations highlighting the positive opportunities out there. John Stenz, of Force America and Chair of the NFPA board of directors, kicked the meeting off by saying that the state of the industry is good, that this industry is growing, changing and has places to go. “You build things, and you make the world work,” Stenz said.
Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics echoed these sentiments at the A3 Conference last month, where he said he expects declines to continue to about mid-2020, but we’ll see a pick-up in Q3 and Q4. And, notably, he pointed out that currently, there is tough competition for employees, with data showing that hourly earnings of manufacturing, truck, wholesale trade, and construction workers are all on the rise. This is reflected in the fluid power market, too, as Fluid Power World’s Ken Korane pointed out last month in his update. Demand for fluid power specialists is still high, with opportunities for better jobs and better pay a strong possibility in the current market, Korane said.
Add all this news into the fact that it’s an IFPE year, and we’re bullish on fluid power. Things may be trending downward but with registrations trending at a record pace for CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE next month, and an overall positive mindset, things are continuing to look up for fluid power.
It will be particularly interesting to hit the ground at IFPE and learn what manufacturers and users are saying about the industry and where it’s headed for the second half of this year and into 2021. Stay tuned for reports from the show, where our editorial team will be highlighting industry news with show daily newsletters, daily blogs, videos and more. Our post-show coverage will continue for months to come.
In the meantime, stay tuned for all of our record coverage of IFPE, with in-depth looks at the many education offerings, a full exhibitor list, show maps, technical component briefs, a round-up on mobile machine electrification highlights from the shows, and pre-show announcements and releases you won’t want to miss.