NEMA’s industrial control business index up 14% from 2003

Rosslyn, VA—The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reports that its Primary Industrial Control Index improved by nearly 14% in the third quarter of 2004 (3Q04) from the same period a year earlier.


Rosslyn, VA— The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reports that its Primary Industrial Control Index improved by nearly 14% in the third quarter of 2004 (3Q04) from the same period a year earlier. The 3Q04 index level of 84.4 marks the highest the primary index has reached since the first quarter of 2001. Although the index has not recovered all the ground it lost after peaking above 102 points early in 2000, this indicator has now improved for seven of the last nine quarters.

Likewise, though NEMA’s combined Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drive Index slipped slightly from 2Q04, the 3Q04 index value of 104.8 was 8% higher than in 3Q03. This index extends only back to the first quarter of 2001, but these latest results for 3Q04 show it has remained above 100 for three consecutive periods for the first time in its short history.

'Continued recovery in the production of industrial machinery, which was up nearly 13% from a year ago, as well as relatively low interest rates and a steady climb in the manufacturing capacity utilization rate, have helped boost the industrial automation sector in recent periods,' says Steve Wilcox, NEMA's market research director.

In addition, interest rates have already moved up from historical lows, and the Federal Reserve appears likely to continue nudging them up for the near term, which will exert some drag on business investment going forward. Three-month T-bill rates, which have been averaging less than 1% as recently as the first quarter of this year, are expected to average above 2.5% in 2005 and to top 3% in 2006.

'Manufacturing capacity utilization and production of industrial machinery are both expected to continue increasing for the next couple of years, but at a somewhat slower rate than in recent periods,' adds Wilcox. 'The factory operating rate had jumped by more than 3 percentage points from the third quarter of 2003 to third quarter of 2004. However, that rate is expected to have increased by only 0.4 percentage points by the same time next year and by an additional 0.3 percentage points by 2006's third quarter. Industrial machinery production, which had improved by double digits for the last two quarters, is projected to grow by 7% in 2005 and 5% in 2006. The combination of these factors suggests continued, albeit slower, growth in the industrial automation sector over the next couple of years.'

NEMA issues its Industrial Control Business Indices quarterly. 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. Because these data have been collected for some time, the primary index illustrates the market's trend over several years.

In 2001, NEMA’s data collection program was expanded to include adjustable speed drives, a key energy-saving industrial component. The Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drive 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, the major industrial control manufacturers in the U.S. market. Detailed information is only available to NEMA members. The data underlying these indices represent more than 90% of U.S. sales of this equipment.

To view the indices, visit NEMA’s website at .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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