In porcelain enamel, Cullen Hackler, executive director
for the Porcelain Enamel Institute (Norcross, GA, U.S.),
sees continuing growth in barbecue grills and woodburning
stoves, plus slight growth in major appliances. At one
U.S. company, some range parts have been converted back
to P/E to better withstand high temperatures and cleaning.
"Overall, we see adequate frit supply to meet the market
needs," he says. "On the cost side, there is continuing
pressure from raw materials and fuels. But the frit makers
are not as dependent on petroleum as some other materials,
such as plastics or organic coatings. I expect the price
increases will generally be small percentages."
"We are starting to hear better things about current
conditions, and are anticipating the U.S. economy will
be up about 2 to 2.5 percent in 2004," says Jack McMahon,
president of frit supplier Pemco
International (Baltimore, MD, U.S.). "For the U.S.
market, the frit picture has been mixed. On one hand, some
plumbing and cookware lines are closing down. On the other
hand, some of the traditional major appliance companies
are picking up production rates. There is also the startup
of new cooking appliance enameling lines at BSH in North
Carolina," he adds.
raw materials suppliers have been struggling
with costs, just like us. The entire industry
is faced with the dilemma of cost control...."
Larry Bauer of DuPont
Powder Coatings U.S.A., Inc.
"There were no issues in product availability for our
industrial coatings in 2003," states Thomas W. Hoenle,
director of Industrial Coatings at BASF
Corporation, Industrial Coatings (Batavia, IL, U.S.). "Pricing
continued to be under significant pressure for the year."
For the next year, he says, "Product availability will
not be a problem for industrial coatings. However, pressure
on suppliers for lower prices will continue even with the
expected escalation in raw material costs." He adds that
he sees a growth trend in the use of coil coatings for
appliances, and that these coatings are a core focus for
"We are beginning to see signs of life among our customer
base," says Larry Bauer, marketing manager for DuPont
Powder Coatings U.S.A., Inc. (Houston, TX, U.S.). "Although
powder coatings have matured so there are not as many conversions
as in the past, we've seen some renewed interest. There
has also been considerable interest in vacuum metalization,
which can replace chrome plating."
big concern in the U.S. is that a lot of work
is now being done overseas. Job shops in particular
are struggling with offshore competition."
Cullen Hackler of the Porcelain
Overall, it looks like a promising year for appliances,
with economists generally predicting good economic growth.
But appliance producers should expect to see no let up
in the intense competition they already face. And, as many
of their suppliers are indicating, they should also anticipate
a challenging materials supply picture, and plan accordingly.