Detroit — More than 90 percent of respondents to a survey of plastics industry professionals said supplier collaboration is essential to driving value in their business.
Some 76 percent agree that the future development of sustainable products to meet consumer demand can only be done through supply chain collaboration.
Those findings were published at NPE2018 in a Plastics Industry Materials & Technology Trends report conducted by the research division of Plastics News.
The report was designed to uncover key business issues impacting the plastics supply chain, explore the changing preferences of brand owners and consumers, and gain insight into the evolving role of material suppliers.
"From a timing perspective, it was important to produce this report to coincide with one of the premier plastics trade shows in the world to show what has changed in the industry since the last NPE in 2015," said Kelley Trost, research director of Plastics News.
The report was based on an April 2018 survey of 634 plastics business professionals and was sponsored by Nova Chemicals Corp.
Key findings include:
• The highly visible role of materials suppliers. Suppliers are expected to understand customers' needs, enhance supply and delivery services, develop high-quality products and provide advanced technical support. Ninety-two percent of respondents say that supplier collaboration is critical to driving value in their business, while 73 percent agree that the success of their business is directly related to their materials suppliers' success.
• The impact of an evolving market. Changing consumer preferences, demographics and brand owner demands are challenging suppliers, converters and plastics packaging manufacturers to realign product offerings, technological capabilities and growth strategies to be competitive.
• Adapting to a changing supply chain. From product design, component specification and supplier selection, to the manufacture of high-performance products, the value chain from chemicals to plastics has become increasingly complex. To meet this challenge, companies are focusing on operational excellence, driving innovation and collaboration.
• The shifting focus on sustainability. "Recycling technology" tops the list of technologies that need to be enhanced to better meet the growing demand for recyclable packaging.
"We had an excellent response to the survey," Trost said. "The broad cross-section of participants and high percentage of in-depth answers to the open-ended questions provided great insight into the industry today, such as companies' priorities and challenges, and what they need to stay competitive in the global market."
More than half of the respondents were plastics processors. Others included original equipment manufacturers, suppliers, mold makers, distributors and brand owners.
"The results of this survey are timely and shed light on the state of the industry," said Alan Schrob, marketing group leader of rigid products for Nova Chemicals. "There are important lessons that companies should take advantage of to stay ahead of the curve."
Copies of the complete report are available from Plastics News' Data Store.