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June 20th, 2011

Gaining the competitive edge: economic outlook and the ceramic industry

Published on June 20th, 2011 | By: Eileen De Guire

From CLS 2010: Rodney Lanthorne (Kyocera) , Joel Moskowitz (Ceradyne) and David Morse (Corning) jointly spoke on the topic, “Emerging Business and Technology Opportunities and Challenges for the Ceramics Community.” Similarly, representatives of small, medium and large enterprises will be featured in the CLS 2011 program.

Last week we reported that the employment outlook for engineers is looking rosier than it has for a long time. GlobalSpec just released a white paper, “2011 Economic Outlook Survey: Improving Conditions Present Market Opportunity for Suppliers” (pdf), which fills in some detail about the economic mood from the perspective of over 1,000 engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial professionals representing 23 industries.

Over half of the companies that responded expect sales to be up in 2011; in contrast, less than half of the 2010 respondents expected sales to be up last year. In two industrial sectors that are important to the ceramic materials industry, for example, 65 percent of the automotive industry is expecting increased sales; aerospace and defense are expecting 48 percent more sales. According to the report, “Departmental budgets are also increasing, with 30 percent of engineers and technical professionals stating their departments will increase budgets in 2011, compared to only 18 percent in 2010. Engineers and technical professionals also are working on more projects than in the past.”

About half of all respondents reported they plan to invest more in 2011 in three key activities: researching future projects, product design and development and entering new markets.

A good manufacturing economy for is good for ceramics, but how good, and in what sectors will it be best? For what broad investment opportunities that companies are looking at this year will ceramic materials be critical? Are there emerging technologies that are dependent on breakthroughs in ceramic materials engineering? How does a ceramic manufacturer break into new markets domestically and abroad?

It can be difficult to extract meaning out of reports like these for industries like ours because so much of the visible manufactured world is coupled to less visible ceramic technology: steelmaking and refractories; automobiles and glass science, sensors; aerospace and thermal barrier coatings; electronics and capacitors, piezoelectrics, insulators; energy and PV materials, batteries, capacitors; etc.

How can you get reliable information on the prevailing business trends and best position your company?

ACerS is sponsoring its 2nd annual Ceramic Leadership Summit to provide strategic business information specific to ceramic businesses. Deliberately designed not to be a technical meeting, all speakers are known leaders in their fields and will focus on the business and strategic issues facing the industry today in three program tracks: energy innovations, business of ceramics and innovative application for ceramic materials.

Here is a small sampling of presentation titles:

  • Advanced Ceramics for Sustainability — View from Siemens Corporate Technology
  • Case Study: A Small U.S. Company’s Approach to China
  • Emerging Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology Applications, Industry Trends and Current and Future Markets
  • Raw Materials Trends Impacting the Ceramics and Glass Community
  • The Market Outlook for Energy-Related Technologies
  • Connecting Research, Technology and Manufacturing

There are a lot of great sources of general business information, but only one that can deliver business information specific to the ceramic materials industry. Timed perfectly to coincide with FY 2012 budget cycles, CLS 2011 will help you map a strategy in your business for growth.

Ceramic Leadership Summit 2011
August 1-3, Baltimore, Md.


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