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Trends impact suppliers and manufacturers in lightweight structures industry

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Survey results show that suppliers and end-product manufacturers are feeling the impact of a more competitive environment resulting from trends such as high raw material prices, increasing labor costs and slow market growth due to the downturn in the U.S. and global economy.

For suppliers

Trend: High raw material prices

Impact: More value engineering (VE)—formal costs estimates, and cost justification procedures, etc.

Trend: Design issues

Impact: Spending more time clarifying the design of fabrics

Trend: Increased use of ETFE in architectural applications

Impact: More competition for business

Trend: Rebirth in use of fabric over traditional building materials

Impact: Expanded business

For end-product manufacturers

Trend: Downturn in economy

Impact: Slow growth has led to canceled or delayed projects, seeking out other low cost suppliers to grow business

Trend: Unfavorable exchange rate

Impact: Lower profit margins (undervalued U.S. dollar vs. foreign currencies)

Trend: High raw material prices

Impact: Holding back ability to grow business

Trend: Lack of skilled employees, labor shortage

Impact: Restricting the expansion of business

Trend: Increasing labor cost

Impact: Higher production costs, loss of sales

Trend: Green movement

Impact:Opportunity to sell new products to green market

Trend: Increasing military applications (tents, storage facilities

Impact: Increased sales to the military through at least 2009

Trend: Increase in international business leads

Impact: Increased sales to international markets

By Jeff Rasmussen, market research manager at the Industrial Fabrics Association International. He can be reached at +1 651 225 6967,

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