NEMA'S control indices for 3Q03 are flat despite economic growth

Rosslyn, VA—The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA, Rosslyn, VA) reports that both its Primary Industrial Control Index and Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drive Index remained essentially flat in 2003's third quarter.


Rosslyn, VA— News about the overall economy, and manufacturing in particular, has been largely positive recently. Preliminary figures indicate that the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 7.2% annual rate in 2003’s third quarter (3Q03); nonresidential construction investment increased by 2.5% from August to September; durable goods orders and shipments improved for the fourth time in five months, and the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing report was above its benchmark index value of 50 for the fourth straight month.

However, despite these upbeat reports, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reports that both its Primary Industrial Control Index and Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drive Index remained essentially flat in 2003's third quarter. The Primary In-dustrial Control Index edged up by 0.5 percentage points over its upwardly revised 2Q03 value of 73.6 to reach an index value of 74.1 for 3Q03. However, that improvement still leaves the index down nearly 5% from its level of one year ago. Meanwhile, NEMA’s Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drive Index increased 1.7 points from its revised 2Q03 level, though its 3Q03 index value of 96.9 is approximately 3.5% less than during the same period last year.

“A couple of economic indicators might help explain the seeming disparity between these modest index results and the relatively more robust state of the domestic economy,' says Steve Wilcox, NEMA’s market research director. 'Industrial production of industrial machinery, which reached a high of over 130 points in the 3Q00, and plunged rapidly to a trough of 83 points in 1Q02, has stagnated during the last two quarters after seeming to be on the verge of a recovery. Additionally, manufacturers are still saddled with a good deal of excess capacity as demonstrated by a factory-operating rate that has yet to break through the 73% mark. As business investment continues to pick up and excess capacity is absorbed, the industrial control business indexes are likely to rebound as well.'

NEMA issues its two control business indices quarterly. The Primary Industrial Control Index represents U.S. shipments for motor starters, contactors, terminal blocks, control circuit devices, motor control centers, sensors, programmable controllers, and other industrial control devices.

In 2001, NEMA expanded its data collection program to include adjustable speed drives, which is a key energy-saving industrial component. The Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drives Index provides a broader measure of the industrial control marketplace. Industrial control equipment, a $2.6 billion U.S. market, is primarily used in industrial applications for the control or regulation of power utilization apparatus, including motors. This index represents monthly sales information collected by NEMA from its members, who include the major industrial control manufacturers in the U.S. market.

The data underlying these indices represent more than 90% of U.S. sales of this equipment. Domestic shipments of electrical products within NEMA’s scope exceed $100 billion.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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