49th Census of World Casting Production Modest growth in worldwide casting market

Global casting production continued its upward trend in 2014, growing by 2.4 million metric tons, a 2.3% increase compared to the previous year’s total.

In 2014, global production increased to more than 105 million metric tons, an increase of 2.3% when compared to the previous year, according to this year’s Modern Casting Census of World Casting Production. The total production in 2014 represents an increase of 2.4 million metric tons compared to 2013. This rate of growth is a slight decline from 2013’s 3.4% boost.

This year’s census includes 37 countries from four continents. Of the 34 nations that provided data for the past two years, 23 reported expanded production in total shipments when comparing 2014 and 2013. Fourteen countries, meanwhile, saw their industries contract in the last year.

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Countries with developing metalcasting industries and smaller total outputs, as expected, had larger fluctuations, with Bosnia & Herzegovina having the largest jump (40.7%) and Serbia the biggest drop-off (35.9%). China, the world’s leader in total production of castings, increased its output by 1.7 million metric tons, a steady overall increase of 3.8%. The U.S. (1.6%) and India (2.2%), the next largest nations in terms of overall production, also reported modest growth.

Three of the world’s mid-tier countries in terms of production—Ukraine (14.3%), Turkey (13.4%) and Taiwan (14%)—boasted robust gains in 2014, while the majority of the largest casting producers showed more modest improvements. Brazil, meanwhile, the world’s seventh largest metalcasting nation, lost 10.9% of its total production in 2014, erasing the gains made in 2013 when it expanded by 7.4%.

The rest of the top 10 list remained unchanged, with Japan producing 5.54 million metric tons, Germany 5.25 million and Russia 4.2 million. Behind Brazil, Korea (2.63 million tons), Italy (2.02 million) and France (1.73 million) round out the list.

Plants by nation and trends
At first glance, the total number of metalcasting facilities worldwide appears to have fluctuated wildly over the course of the last 10 years. At 47,145 for 2014, that total represents an increase of nearly 13,000 or 38.3% since 2004.

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But much of the up-and-down can be pinned to China’s rate of growth over the past decade. The world’s largest producer of castings saw its number of metalcasting facilities grow exponentially, from 12,000 to 30,000 in 2013. But recent consolidation and slower growth in the Chinese market caused that number to dip slightly in 2014, settling in at 26,000, which still accounts for 55% of all the world’s casting operations.

The North American market has continued its slight decrease, with the U.S. dropping below 2,000 for the first time in the history of the World Census. Other established metalcasting nations, including much of Europe, also saw their total facilities decline modestly.

Slicing the data another way, instead focusing on 2014’s total versus that of five years ago, the global metalcasting industry has held steady in the wake of the economic recession of 2009. Total production has exceeded post-recession levels, while the total number of casting facilities has increased by 1,104 since 2009.

Increases in efficiency means existing operations are producing more tonnage per site though the casting industry may continue to contract in total number of facilities.

Production per plant
The slight decline in the number of metalcasting facilities coupled with growth in overall production can only mean one thing: metalcasters are producing more tonnage per plant. Facilities are able to fulfill demand with available capacity as underperforming facilities exit the market place. The industry emphasis on efficiency also helps explain how less are producing more.

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Germany remained, far and away, the nation that produces the most castings per plant, shipping 8,818 metric tons per plant. The U.S., No. 2 in average production per plant, produced 6,059 metric tons per site, a slight decrease from 2013’s figure.

China experienced the largest growth in production per plant in 2014, thanks largely to the contraction of its metalcasting facilities by 15%. Chinese metalcasters produced an average of 1,777 metric tons, up 294 tons from 2013. China and Italy, both with relatively different metalcasting industries, produce the smallest casting volume per facility.

Brazil, due largely to its 10.7% drop in overall casting production, experienced the biggest decrease in production average (229 tons per site), with its overall number at 2,043 tons. The U.S. and Brazil were the only two nations in the top 10 to see a decrease in production per plant.

Tables courtesy of Modern Casting.