By Karen Hanna
Normal is coming back.
At least that’s what Boy Machines President Marko Koorneef is projecting for 2021.
“We’ve done extremely well,” Koorneef said in early December, “so, I don’t expect to get the same year as this year. What I do expect is sales are probably going to be around what we would have expected this year without the COVID, which is, compared to the year before, it’s a just a few-percent increase.”
Demand for medical parts, such as ventilator valves, and food packaging spurred brisk sales of Boy Machines’ presses in 2020, as the pandemic forced some plastics processors to gear up, but Koorneef said he believes those markets now are saturated. With vaccines being prepped for distribution, he said he expects the pandemic’s influence will wane.
“There’s going to be an excessive amount of machines that people are going to look for, ‘What else can I make in this machine?’” he said.
On the other side of the ledger are industries that endured economic hardship throughout 2020. In acknowledging the disruptions experienced by the automotive and construction industries, Brian Towler, national sales manager for Boy Machines, spoke from personal experience — he’d been waiting almost half a year to install a new fence.
“I know it’s affected me because I tried to buy a vinyl fence back in July, and they still haven’t even furnished the fence that I need,” Towler said.
Workers sidelined at companies shut down because of state mandates or COVID-19 outbreaks will be getting back to work in 2021, Towler and Koorneef said. For them, business as normal — meaning something akin to life in the pre-COVID era of 2019 — will be returning, Koorneef predicted.
“It’s going to get a shift from one industry to another industry,” he said, in anticipation of demand from industries that had taken a hit in 2020.
Like Towler, Koorneef has been waiting months to move forward with a home construction project.
“In construction, I think a lot of people were holding back … so, once the COVID is gone, they’ve been sitting on their money; there you’re going to see a growth,” Koorneef said.
He said he expects “steady coasting” for Boy Machines’ sales of primary machines, as well as continued demand for automation, which Boy Machines can help supply to its customers through an integrator.
While the pandemic has caused problems for factories that have experienced outbreaks, the labor issues caused by COVID aren’t top of mind for most plastics processors considering automation, Koorneef said. Rather, it’s the cost and convenience of robots and cobots that drive what he characterized as strong “ongoing demand.”
“For $30,000, you can have a cobot that does the same thing [as a person] in the assembly line. They can do the same stacking of cups in a box and pack it up. That’s a $30,000 investment for one time versus a $30,000-a-year investment for an employee,” Koorneef said.
Reflecting on a year like no other, Koorneef said Boy Machines was fortunate to be buttressed by business from booming packaging and medical-parts makers. 2021 will be more like the year everyone expected 2020 would be, before the world was gripped by the pandemic.
“I do not expect next year to be for us an extremely good year because we did so well this year,” Koorneef said. “Where other competitors are down by 30 percent, we’re way over that.”
Karen Hanna, associate editor
Boy Machines Inc., Exton, Pa., 610-363-9121, www.boymachines.com
See what other machine builders and users had say in response to our annual machinery buying survey story coming in your January print issue and on plasticsmachinerymanufacturing.com.