Shipments for the U.S. industrial valve industry will grow 3 percent in 2013, increasing to nearly $4.3 billion, according to figures released by the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) as part of its annual market forecast. The increase, which will be driven in part by new investments in automated valves, marks the fourth consecutive year of growth following the recession, and exceeds the industry’s previous 10-year peak in 2008.

VMA President William Sandler said that he is optimistic about the outlook for the valve industry. “We have rebounded from the downturn, which is a good sign for us and the overall economy,” Sandler said in an official announcement. “If the end-users of our products are ordering from us, then they too are producing. I’m also proud of VMA’s important role in strengthening an industry that is the backbone for so many others and that stands out for its level of excellence.”

The VMA membership is optimistic too, according to a recent VMA monthly economic survey, which showed that 85 percent of the membership expects 2013 to be better or equal to 2012. This follows on a year that turned out better than predicted, as 2012 figures surpassed initial projections reaching $4.15 billion, which represents 22 percent growth over the last decade.

Overall, the VMA forecast reveals only slight changes for most of the 15 end-user industries. Power generation is predicted to have the largest increase in shipments from 2012, rising 1.0 percentage points. Four other industries are expected to record smaller increases of 0.2 or 0.1 percentage points. On the downside, the water and wastewater industry is forecast to decline by 0.6 percentage points, with seven other industries showing smaller declines. In terms of market share, the chemical industry is the largest consumer with 17.2 percent of the shipments, followed by water and wastewater at 16.2 percent.

Out of 11 categories of valves tracked, the most popular product last year was automated valves, accounting for nearly $1.3 billion in shipments; ball valves were the next most frequently shipped item, accounting for $760.5 million in shipments. The report also revealed that 21 percent of shipments are exports, a growing trend as the industry adapts to the opportunities presented by globalization.

The ongoing drive to automate processes is likely driving new investments in automated valves. As end-users continue to recover from the recent recession and begin to invest in new technology and capital equipment, older valves will, in many cases, be replaced with automated valves with the aim of increasing process efficiency. Automated valves include such advanced features as digital communication and diagnostic capability.

As a multi-billion industry, the valve and actuator business greatly contributes to the success of other key industries that rely on its products to keep their products working, VMA says. Products manufactured by VMA members are used in numerous industries, including: chemical processing; petroleum refining; oil and gas exploration, distribution and transmission; power generation; nuclear power; water/wastewater; commercial construction; and pulp and paper.

The VMA exclusively represents nearly 100 North American manufacturers of valves, actuators and controls, which account for about 80 percent of total industrial valve shipments out of U.S. and Canadian facilities. For more information, visit www.VMA.org.