Machinery Investments Remain Strong

By Nick St. Denis

Architectural glass fabricators have made ample investments in machinery and equipment over the past two years, and that will continue into the near future. This is according to a new study by USGlass magazine and the research division of its parent company, Key Media & Research (KMR).

In July 2022, KMR conducted a survey of North American glass fabricators, contract glaziers and glass retailers regarding recent purchases and future purchase plans of machinery and equipment. Fifty-five eligible company decision-makers responsible for machinery and equipment purchasing fully participated.

Fabricators Have Been Spending

Nearly all glass fabricator respondents have made a recent investment, as 89% of glass fabricators say they have made at least one fabrication machinery purchase in the last 24 months (through June 30, 2022).

Of the glass fabricators who made a machinery purchase over the past two years, 88% purchased a glass washer, while another 76% purchased CNC glass cutting equipment.

No other machinery/equipment type was close, with tempering lines being the next-highest-ranked type at 35%.

How Much Did They Spend?

When asked how much fabricators spent, in total, on their recent fabrication machinery purchase(s)—including any tear-down and installation/re-installation—the most common response was the $1 million to $2.99 million range.

In terms of their largest investment, the average total cost for fabricators’ single-most expensive purchase was $1.2 million.

More on the Way

If machinery manufacturers and suppliers are looking for more good news, here it is: every glass fabricator respondent in this study said they would likely make a fabrication machinery purchase within the next 24 months. However, the average dollar value fabricators plan to spend in their most significant investment is less than half of their recent investments.

Over the next two years, the most common purchase among glass fabricators will be diamond edging equipment.

While many fabricators are committed to making purchases within the next six months, a majority have more conservative plans and are looking out to the six-month-to-two-year range.

How Much Will They Spend?

When asked about their budget for machinery purchases over the next 24 months, the most common ranges respondents selected were $150,000 to $499,000 and $1 million to $2.99 million.

Regarding their largest purchase, the average expected cost for fabricators’ single-most expensive machinery investment is $534,000, less than half of the total they spent on their biggest investment over the past 24 months.

On the bright side, given that all fabricators plan to make a machinery purchase and the $1 million to $2.99 million range was popular, this suggests a share of fabricators may be planning on multiple purchases.

Perspective from the Installers

Glazing contractors and glass shops plan to do their fair share of fabrication machinery and equipment purchasing, as well.

Over one-third (37%) that participated in this study said they have made a fabrication machinery purchase over the past two years, and 83% plan to do so during the next two. Cutting (for both glass and metal), edging and drilling equipment were the most common machinery purchases among glazing contractors and glass shops over the past 24 months. Looking forward, these three categories will again be popular, in addition to beveling, glass washing and manual insulating glass equipment.

Nick St. Denis is the director of research for Key Media & Research, parent company of USGlass magazine. He can be reached at nstdenis@glass.com

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