Japanese machinery industry could be on the rebound

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: October 22, 2013 1:06 pm ET
Updated: October 22, 2013 1:09 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Machinery, Asia, K 2013, Business News & Features

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — Japan's large plastic machinery industry may be showing early signs of a rebound, with the machinery industry more optimistic because of the Japanese yen's return to more typical levels against the U.S. dollar.

Increasing demand in both North America and the Japanese domestic market are also encouraging signs, a Japanese trade association official said in a presentation at K 2013.

While statistics don't show a big increase, Japanese machinery companies are noticing a pickup after a slow start this year and machinery production is likely to equal or exceed last year's, according to Michio Komatsu, a board member of the Japan Society of Plastics Technology and an industry consultant.

Komatsu spoke on the Japanese machinery industry's outlook at the Oct. 18 Japan Technology Forum.

"Our domestic demand for new technology and machines is increasing," Komatsu said. "For the Asian market supply and the domestic machine supply, both are expanding day by day."

In comments after his speech, he said the Japanese yen's weakening in the last 18 months has helped make Japanese machinery exports more competitive.

The yen traded at about 75 to the dollar in late 2011, near a post-World War II high, but gradually weakened since then. It stood at about 85 yen to the dollar at the beginning of this year, but by May had come back to about 100 yen to the greenback, its normal level in recent years. Japan exports about 60 percent of its plastics machinery, Komatsu said.

"It was a terrible time last year, the yen exchange rate was at least 75 yen to the dollar — it was beyond the borderline, it was terrible," he said.

The falling yen is a "big reason we can restart such kind of business, production and export from Japan," he said.

Japanese companies made 11,500 plastic molding machines in their factories in Japan in 2012, and while this year started slow, it picked up significantly beginning in the summer, he said.

"The demand of Japanese machines in North America is increasing," he said. "Also our domestic demand for renewal of old machines, this is also increasing, because we have the Olympic Games, so government spends a lot of budget for infrastructure."

According to government figures presented by Komatsu, Japan's plastic machinery industry made a little more than 5,300 molding machines in the first half of the year, which would be below last year's pace. But he said that reflects a very slow start to the year.

"In January we did not start so much, but from August to September, October, it was already so much," he said.

Japanese blow molding machinery companies made 335 machines in the first half of the year, compared with 670 in 2012. For extrusion machines, the pace of production fell off in the first half, with Japanese companies making 236 machines, versus 851 last year.

In recent years, Japanese injection molding companies have established factories in China and Southeast Asia as a way to tap domestic demand and lower costs.

While official figures are not available, some industry officials estimate Japanese IMM makers produce more than 2,000 machines in those countries. Those machines are not included in the production figures that Komatsu presented, which represent only machines made in Japan.

He said that Japanese companies are increasingly exporting from their Southeast Asian and Chinese factories to North America.

On the other side, he said that Japanese companies still face long-term domestic challenges, such as high costs and a falling population in Japan.


Comments

Japanese machinery industry could be on the rebound

By Steve Toloken
Staff Reporter / Asia Bureau Chief

Published: October 22, 2013 1:06 pm ET
Updated: October 22, 2013 1:09 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Asia continues driving sales for Engel

October 21, 2014 2:42 pm ET

The number seven seems to be special for European plastics machinery makers at the moment — injection press giant Engel Holding GmbH said Oct....    More

Image

Messe Düsseldorf supports Plastindia move, but with reservations

October 20, 2014 2:45 pm ET

Germany's Messe Düsseldorf, the largest overseas partner of the Plastindia show, has given its support to the last-minute move of Plastindia to a new ...    More

Image

Petition asks for Plastindia to move back to Delhi, PIF board member resigns

October 20, 2014 2:28 pm ET

A member of Plastindia Foundation's management board has quit the organization to protest the manner in which the group moved its namesake Plastindia ...    More

Image

Trexel charges patent infringement against Taiwan company

October 20, 2014 3:25 pm ET

Trexel Inc., the supplier of the MuCell microcellular foaming technology, is accusing a Taiwanese company, Chuan Lih Fa Machinery Works, of violating ...    More

Image

Humanoid robot provides inspection service with a smile

October 17, 2014 6:00 am ET

Everyone knows robots can improve production and quality. But no one says they can't show a little personality while they're working.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events