As the extent of the coronavirus pandemic became clear to the North American plastics industry, members of the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors turned to some familiar people for help: one another.
MAPP, along with the American Mold Builders Association and the Association for Rubber Product Manufacturers, has created a "best practices" guildeline with 300 pages of recommendations on how to handle business during COVID-19, and it is hosting forum discussions to continue the discussion.
"Like all of our benchmarking, this came from our members," said Ashley Turrell, membership and analytics director for Indianapolis-based MAPP.
"Over the course of 24 hours, we had several members reach out asking about what other plastics companies are doing right now in response to COVID-19. ... We immediately sent out a call for policies and in less than 72 hours had over 300 pages of sample policies, procedures, resources and communication ideas generated by the membership," she said.
"What's even more is that we are getting more and more resources each day, so this has turned into a living document that is being updated or shared with our membership every few days," Turrell said in response to email questions.
MAPP members' concerns fall under three main topics, she said: understanding legislation related to the virus coming from local and federal rules; keeping their staff safe; and figuring out how to maintain their business under a reduced cash flow.
"There has been a huge slowing across the industry for many, especially those in automotive or deemed a 'nonessential' service," Turrell said. "They are concerned about maintaining cash flow while they are only operating at 30 or 40 or 50 percent capacity, or when they have large customers pulling orders, or, if they shut down, managing cash flow again once businesses open up again."
Protecting their people, especially if they're still running production, is also a big issue, along with finding ways to retain company culture during a period of social distancing.
"With so many new policies and social distancing guidelines, plastics companies are looking for creative ways to make sure they are keeping their people healthy, respecting everyone's individual situation and managing employee morale and stress levels," she said.
MAPP and the other organizations are also setting up a series of video conferences to connect manufacturers to information from experts who track legal and production issues.
"The challenge for our members is that the environment and policies and expectations are changing each day," Turrell said.