A Statistical View into Industrial Printing
According to SGIA’s 2017 Specialty Graphics Industry Survey, 21 percent of industrial printing companies reported an increase in sales from 2015 to 2016. This improvement has taken place even as employment has increased marginally, indicating increased throughput. The segment is also highly optimistic about the future — with positive confidence increasing by 14 percent. SGIA conducted its annual survey in Spring 2017.
Not surprisingly, a strong majority of industrial printing companies (86 percent) serve business-to-business customers; six percent are in-plant printers, which are contained within larger manufacturing operations and do not offer “print for pay.” Companies in this segment are more likely to serve national and international accounts than their graphics-focused brethren. Industrial printing companies, on median, have 50 full-time employees, report annual sales revenue of $7.5M and report an annual sales growth of 4.4 percent.
The top five product areas served by industrial printing companies are industrial decals/labels, instruments/dials/overlays, medical devices/items, membrane switches and industrial part printing. Each of these areas is served by a majority of those responding. Printed electronics is the product area seen as growing the most.
While the industrial sector is seen as being strongly focused on the use of analog technologies, our data shows strong adoption of digital technologies. Nearly 90 percent classify themselves as multi-technology, meaning they use a mix of analog and digital technologies to print. The most commonly used imaging technologies in the industrial sector are screen printing, wide-format inkjet, laser etching/engraving and custom inkjet solutions. In terms of print capacity in use, nearly three-fourths of companies are operating at between 61 and 90 percent of capacity. Nearly 90 percent provide finishing services to their customers, most commonly die-cutting/laser cutting, lamination and doming.
Production equipment purchases are strong in the industrial sector, with 57 percent of companies making a capital expenditure of between $50,000 and $499,999 during calendar year 2016, and 14 percent spending more than $500,000. Planned equipment purchases (for 2017) show equally-robust activity. When companies in this sector purchase equipment, they are most likely to pay using cash or a bank loan.
When companies in the industrial sector purchase equipment, they consider durability of equipment, range of capabilities and price to operate/maintain.
Nearly two-thirds of companies report their main barrier to growing their business is downward pressure on prices. In efforts to improve their competitive advantage in production, nearly three-fourths of companies are using lean manufacturing/continuous improvement efforts and reducing operating costs. In their sales and marketing efforts, companies are most likely to develop new markets and maximize the value of current customers. To attract new customers, companies are most likely to utilize company websites, inside and outside sales and electronic communications. Of those that use social media channels, the most utilized are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Business conditions in this sector are strong: 56 percent and 68 percent, respectively, reported increases in sales and production over last year. Employment also showed a strong uptick, with 41 percent reporting they added staff. Price for products sold remained mostly the same. Confidence in the industry is also strong, with 68 percent reporting they view industry conditions positively. Confidence in the U.S. economy was nearly equal to industry confidence.
For a deeper dive into this information, SGIA members can access the full reports on SGIA.org. The reports include full data and many graphs and tables to help you apply SGIA’s findings to your company. Not a member? Visit the SGIA booth (Booth 2245) to learn more.