Scales and Balances, Except Laboratory

SIC 3596

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This industry is made up of establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing weighing and force-measuring machines and devices, except those regarded as scientific apparatus for laboratory work, which are classified under SIC 3821: Laboratory Apparatus and Furniture.

The non-laboratory scales and balances industry is divided into three subcategories: vehicle and industrial scales; retail, commercial, household, and mailing scales; and parts, attachments, and accessories for scales and balances, except laboratory. Total value of the industry was approximately $2.3 billion in 2009. Comprising more than half the shipment values were the vehicle and industrial scales segment, which are used primarily in factories and truck weighing stations to measure amounts of goods to be packaged or delivered. The retail, commercial, household, and mailing scales segment formed the second largest subcategory, at approximately 25 percent of industry shipment values, and included scales in grocery stores, delicatessens, checkstands, automatic prepacks, and postal scales. Parts, attachments, and accessories make up the remaining balance.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 115 establishments operated in this category for part or all of 2004. Industry-wide employment totaled approximately 4,159 workers receiving a payroll of nearly $172 million. Companies in this industry tended to be small in size, with about 59 percent employing fewer than 20 workers.

According to the latest data reported in the Annual Survey of Manufactures, the industry shipped more than $731 million in products in 2008. Moreover, for the combined "all other miscellaneous general purpose machinery manufacturing" (including welding and soldering equipment manufacturing and all other miscellaneous general purpose machinery manufacturing) industry, shipments reached $11.5 billion in 2008.

During 2008, the vehicle and industrial scales sector shipped $416,690 in goods. The retail, commercial, household mailing scales and balances sector outperformed itself in 2008 as well, with shipments valued at $181,996 in 2008. Parts, attachments, and accessories reported $116,641 in 2009 shipments.

Real growth in the industry has been largely flat to negative since the 1980s, when the industry posted record sales. In 2000, manufacturers in this category saw shipment values peak at nearly $765 million, though this declined by about 19 percent in 2005 to $623 million. New business for the industry is often dependent upon external factors, such as postal rate changes and other government regulations that require the industry's customers to upgrade their weighing systems.

According to industry statistics, the total number of establishments reached 257 between the mid- to late 2000s, and the workforce numbered 11,300. Shipment values also rebounded to $2.3 billion in 2009, compared to $731 million in 2008. On average, each establishment employed 45 workers and generated about $12 million. States with the highest concentration were California, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Mettler-Toledo International Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, boasted sales of $1.72 billion in 2009. The company employed 5,300 workers. Declining sales figures were blamed on the global stagnant economic conditions. While no sales figures were available for Hobart Corp. of Troy, Ohio, the company employed 1,300 workers in 2009. Sales reached $1.0 billion in 2005. Hobart's parent company, Illinois Tool Works, Inc. located in Glenview, Illinois, generated $13.87 billion in 2009. Neopost U.S.A. Inc. of Haywood, California, reported sales of nearly $507 million in 2009 with 1,150 employees.

Since reaching a high of nearly 4,900 positions in 1999, employment figures have steadily dropped off. Major occupations within the industry include machinists; machine setters, operators, and tenders (metal and plastic); assemblers and fabricators; and product inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that between 2004 and 2014, machinists, assemblers, and fabricators would experience slow growth, while declines would occur with machine setters, operators, and tenders (metal and plastic), as well as product inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers.

Like many manufacturing industries, the trend for manufacturers of scales and balances was toward efficiency and automation. Industry leader Mettler-Toledo developed new digital equipment, including a "smart count" scale with an internal database designed for speed, flexibility, automation, and ease of operation. Hobart Corp. rolled out its Access PrePack Scale System in 2006, which utilized highly technical equipment. Via Internet connectivity, the system allowed for data downloads and uploads and was also user-friendly for merchandisers, operators, and system administrators.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

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