Better Material Inventory Control with Demand Forecasting at Atlas Fibre

Knowledge is the ultimate commodity; it fuels innovation, shapes industries, and drives progress. It doesn’t do us any good however if we don’t put it to use.

When Atlas Fibre needs to forecast demand for the supply of thermoset composite and thermoplastic material in advance, there are a variety of inputs that need to be carefully considered.

These factors encompass market trends, historical sales data, economic indicators, customer behavior patterns, and industry forecasts. The list is long, and the work of demand forecasting is never really done.

For this reason, it’s important to become familiar with some of the inputs used in demand forecasting and the variables that influence market demand to ensure a comprehensive, accurate and informed approach to planning.

Statistical Inventory Forecasting

In 2024 Atlas Fibre invested in AI to constantly analyze its demand data to forecast with high certainty, the stocking levels required to achieve a 95%+ availability rate for our customers across our thermoset sheet, rod, and cut piece product lines. We have seen enormous success in ensuring that we keep materials in stock for customers while maintaining rational inventory levels of slower-moving items.

The thermoset composites market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 6.3% from 2023 to 2028, reaching USD 91.37 billion by 2028, while the thermoplastic composites market is expected to grow at a slightly higher CAGR of around 8% during 2024-2030, reaching USD 7.43 billion by 2030.

These data points certainly indicate a strong interest more broadly across all markets, but looking closer at individual sectors can help reveal what will drive demand and adoption across those industries in the future.

Sectors like aerospace, automotive, construction, and wind energy have high interest in the properties of thermoset composites (lightweight, high strength, and corrosion resistance) but predicting demand accurately will require an understanding of how those materials need to be manufactured and how they end up being used to confidently understand the trajectory of a market and the resulting demand.

Thermoset composites are the edge of innovation; understanding the technological advancements being made today can reveal how to manage demand in the future.

Continuous research and development are underway, for example, to introduce new resin systems (e.g., bio-based resins) and fiber reinforcements (e.g., basalt fibers) that will further enhance composite properties and performance. There is also an increasing focus on developing advanced lightweight and high-performance composite materials to meet the demanding requirements of industries like aerospace, automotive, and renewable energy.

End-Use Industry Dynamics

In addition to a deep understanding of technology developments, demand forecasting also needs to factor in the growth trajectories and production trends of those key end-use industries – and there are many:

Aerospace and Defense: Rising aircraft production rates and the need for lightweight materials to improve fuel efficiency are driving demand for thermoset and thermoplastic composites in this sector.

Automotive: Stringent emissions regulations are compelling automakers to use lightweight composites to reduce vehicle weight, boosting demand.

Construction: Increasing infrastructure development and adoption of composites in building applications like facades, roofing, and flooring are growth drivers.

Wind Energy: The expanding wind power sector, especially in Asia-Pacific, is a major consumer of thermoset composites.

It’s also necessary to narrow in on these markets even further. A current emphasis on the recyclability and sustainability of thermoset plastics to help address environmental concerns, for example, is important if suppliers are able to provide the right material as demand changes.

Regional Market Outlook

Much like any market, there are always pockets worth paying attention to and a local look is as valuable as a global look any day. Analyzing regional market dynamics is crucial for accurate demand forecasting, and as a vertically integrated supplier, it’s one of our differentiating capabilities. So, what’s trending around the globe when it comes to thermoset composite?

Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth rates for both thermoset and thermoplastic composites, driven by the presence of major manufacturers and increasing investments in sectors like wind energy and automotive. North America and Europe are also significant markets, influenced by aerospace and automotive production levels.

In general, regional demand models are influenced mostly by indicators such as population and economic conditions. Monitoring for broader shifts can reveal where demand is likely to emerge.

Competitive Landscape

Monitoring the strategies, capacity expansions, and new product launches by companies in the market can also provide insight into shifting dynamics and demand patterns of any market. While Atlas Fibre utilizes a variety of inputs (leveraging industry reports, market intelligence, and economic indicators) and experience to develop comprehensive demand forecasting models, there are two factors that we watch most closely as it relates to market demand for thermosets in the competitive landscape – the expansion of production capacities and the adoption of advanced manufacturing processes.

Monitoring how the major players in both industries are investing in and progressing toward capacity expansions and new production facilities indicates interest in catering to rising demand. While more challenging to validate, it’s also worth taking advantage of understanding the rate of adoption of advanced manufacturing processes. Interest in processes like automated fiber placement, resin transfer molding, and compression molding in hopes of improving production efficiency or product quality are strong indicators that a change in demand is inevitable.

There’s no sure-fire way to accurately and consistently predict demand. The rate of innovation is too fast and there are too many political and economic unknowns. The more we know about what’s happening around us, the better able we are to plan for success.

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