When it comes to the current state of the plastics industry, more of the same certainly isn't a bad thing.
According to Troy Nix, executive director of the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors, the organization sees more of the same for the plastics industry in 2019.
MAPP recently conducted its keystone benchmarking study, the annual State of the Plastics Industry Report. The study resulted in a report that analyzes and highlights information on the anticipated outlook for the U.S. plastics industry for 2019.
"More of the same isn't necessarily a bad thing," Nix said in a telephone interview. "You can't keep increasing your growth year after year without leveling off at some point. I believe that is what we are seeing now."
Nix noted that the report, which includes input from MAPP members and outside participants, highlights data on sales trends, production tooling, raw material, capital expenditures, money and profits, production employees and challenges facing the industry.
"We look at this as a way to provide industry executives an overview of conditions of the plastics industry for 2019," he said.
The survey examines historical trends, fourth-quarter performance and anticipated business conditions for the next 12 months. From customer diversity and managing changing industry demands to sales and profits, the report covers more than 40 economic and business indicators to help plastics executives understand expectations for the industry in 2019.
While assembling the report, Nix compared the final two quarters of 2018 and said he saw no key indicators to show any sort of negative growth.
Respondents indicated that the end market with the most opportunity is medical, followed by automotive. Ironically, automotive also proved to be the segment that respondents are least optimistic about.
Nix noted that it may simply be a matter of which automaker you are working with. Despite the seeming pessimistic outlook, many respondents serving the automotive market indicated that they are ordering new tooling and machinery for new programs.
"Some see the legacy programs dropping off. And if it weren't for a new program, they would be in trouble," Nix said. "Others may not be seeing any hit as legacy programs drop off."
In fact, for the fourth year in a row, the automotive industry is rated both one of the most and one of the least optimistic markets. However, it is the first time in three years that it wasn't ranked as the most optimistic market.