Canadian Plastics

Extruding the Facts: the 2007 Pipe & Profile Benchmark Survey

Long before European explorers began surveying the New World in the early 16th century, the practice was recognized as a highly efficient way of gathering, displaying and comparing information. The fi...

May 1, 2007   By Mark Stephen, associate editor



Long before European explorers began surveying the New World in the early 16th century, the practice was recognized as a highly efficient way of gathering, displaying and comparing information. The first Canadian Plastics Pipe and Profile Extrusion Benchmark Survey shares these goals: to give our readers an understanding of some of the broad characteristics of Canada’s extrusion industry, as well as establishing a benchmark against which data from future surveys can be compared to track changes in the industry over time.

FOUR “W”s: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY

Some of the questions contained in our survey were intended to gather general background information, such as a company’s size, location, processes, and customer base.

A question focusing on workforce size produced a broad range of answers from our respondents; one claimed as many as 800 employees at a facility, while another identified three. Almost one-third of the respondents were from facilities with 100 or more workers, while most of the remainder had between 50 to 75 people. Based on the 25 responses to this question, the average extrusion facility employs approximately 134 workers. As well, respondents reported a range of hourly salary levels for machine operators, with approximately $16 being the hourly average.

Asked to identify what extrusion processes their facility performed, almost three-quarters of respondents (69%) selected profile extrusion. Fourteen respondents (34%) identified tubing extrusion, while 10 respondents (24%) chose pipe. In addition, 35% of respondents categorized their shops as performing custom extrusion with some proprietary extrusion, 28% described their shops as exclusively proprietary extrusion, 20% as captive with some custom extrusion, and 17% as exclusively custom extrusion.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (65%) are with facilities that have either ISO or QS9000 certification.

Our survey also attempted to map the geographic scope of Canada’s extrusion industry. Almost half of the respondents (46%) operate in Ontario. Just under one-third (31%) are situated in Quebec, with the rest of the respondents scattered throughout Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

Slightly more than half of the respondents reported shipping at least 50% of their plant’s product outside Canada, although a large majority of respondents (85%) indicated their company has not established a presence in either the Chinese or the Indian markets. This last response stands in contrast to the results of our 2007 Injection Molders’ survey (see Canadian Plastics, January 2007), in which almost half of the respondents indicated their company either had or was planning to initiate a business venture in those countries.

An examination of the various markets served by the respondents to the extrusion survey reveals the majority (82%) manufacture extrusion for the construction industry, followed by 35% for the automakers, 21% for consumer goods, approximately 18% for electronic goods and 10% for packaging.

CURRENT MACHINERY AND PURCHASING INTENTIONS

Based on our survey results, interest in purchasing new extrusion equipment seems relatively low. When asked if their plants had purchased new extruders within the past 12 months, two-thirds of the respondents replied in the negative. Of the remaining number whose organizations have made purchases, 70% were done in order to add capacity, with the rest for replacement of old machinery.

Of the machines that were purchased, exactly one-third of respondents (33.3%) reported the purchase of twin screw extruders, one-third the purchase of single screw smooth bore extruders, and one-third the purchase of single screw grooved feed extruders.

The survey responses also suggest that a good many extrusion plants are using older machinery. According to the respondents, a majority of the machines at their facilities were five or more years old, and almost half of the respondents indicated all of their extruders were that age or older. And most respondents seemed content with this situation. Seventy-three per cent indicated their facility had no plans to purchase any new extruders within the next 12 months.

Of those respondents that did indicate an intention to purchase a new machine, or machines, within the next year, 55% said the purchase would replace old machinery, with the rest purchasing in order to add capacity. A clear majority (62%) of those shopping for new machinery said they would select twin screw extruders.

The survey data also indicates that, of the respondents, 76% purchased downstream extrusion equipment within the past 12 months, and slightly less than that number (66%) are planning to purchase extrusion downstream machinery within the next 12 months.

Additionally, 57% purchased new auxiliary equipment within the past year, and 65% have plans to purchase auxiliary equipment within the next 12 months.

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE

The desire to invest in training, and in research and development (R&D), seems strong in the extrusion industry. More than half of the respondents indicated their company budgeted 5% or more on expenses for employee training, while almost 75% reported spending 5% or more on product R&D.

Ninety-four per cent of respondents indicated their facility had formal safety policies and programs in place. Perhaps not surprisingly, given today’s emphasis on recycling and environmental awareness, just over half (55%) of the respondents said their plant had formally enacted either a recycling, a waste management, or an environmental policy.

VIEW SURVEY RESULTS ONLINE

The complete results of the 2007 Pipe and Profile Extrusion Benchmark Survey are available on our website, www.canplastics.com.

Respondents were entered into a draw for a cash prize of $200; the winner was George Fung, project manager at CPI Plastics Group Ltd. in Mississauga, Ont. Canadian Plastics thanks all those who participated.

NUMBER OF EXTRUDERS IN FACILITY(n=26)

1-5/ 5

6-10/ 8

11-25/ 9

26+/ 4

JUST THE (FAST) FACTS

Average hourly operator wage(excluding benefits):$16.17(n=19)

Average number of employees:134(n=25)

Average total revenue:$43 million(n=13)

Average resin consumed (lbs.):13.4 million(n=16)

The survey, consisting of 30 questions, was emailed in April 2007 to approximately 375 people at pipe and profile extrusion facilities throughout Canada. There were 42 respondents, giving a response rate of 11%. However, because not everyone answered each question, the percentage values in the charts and tables are given as a percentage of respondents to that question, with the number of respondents provided in parenthesis, for example (n=19).


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