A digital platform for the entire plastics supply chain is picking up more than 100 participating companies a month, according to the developers at M-hub srl.
The free app called M-hub is rapidly growing as a network for industry professionals to discover leads, learn about new technologies and showcase products, according to founder Andrea Tellan.
"The main peculiarities are the fact that M-hub is a mobile app, that it has a global reach, that it is translated in 13 languages and that it speaks to the entire plastics industry," Tellan said in email.
M-hub launched the app in 2019 with English and Chinese language support, then added German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, French, Russian, Indonesian, Czech, Polish and Arabic languages.
The app increased in popularity during the pandemic as more business was conducted through the digital platform. About 2,300 companies now participate, Tellan said.
"Companies are signing up at a rate of over 120 per month," he said. "Our goal is to serve all companies in the plastics industry, so we are still thousands of companies short."
The network includes processors like Silgan Plastics, Evco Plastics and Trademark Plastics, which M-hub says can position their companies as a resource for plastic part production.
Suppliers also have joined, such as training firm RJG Inc., mold flow software provider Moldex3D Northern America Inc. and Vive Marketing.
M-hub gives companies a tab to present business expertise, contact information, products, services and photos.
The app also can be used to buy, sell or rent machines without a middleman. App users can filter searches by location, core business, field of application and expertise.
Tellan said the most common app uses involve buyers finding suppliers in new markets or with specific expertise, business developers creating company profiles for promotion and business owners selling used machines or looking for new customers to keep them running.
The idea started as "Mold-hub" with a focus on creating a hub for mold makers and molders and grew from there.
"We realized the needs of plastics professionals go beyond the mold, so we decided to simply call it M-hub," Tellan said. "You can think of M-hub as the Mold-hub, the Machinery-hub, the Manufacturing-hub, etc."
While M-hub has a large European and Asian presence, Vive Marketing President and owner Teresa Schell said she believes in the communication tool and wants to support the channel domestically as their official U.S. partner.
"As business leaders, we need to connect with others and foster relationships in order to succeed," Schell said in an email. "A tool like M-hub is ideal in our plastic manufacturing industry. Many people have said, although the plastics industry is the third-largest commerce in the world (after transportation and food and beverage) the network is small. We pride ourselves in getting to know other professionals in plastics to learn from each other and grow the industry with tremendous resource and smart sustainability for the future."
The M-hub app can be downloaded from the Apple app store or Google Play. The developers say security certifications are applied and privacy is protected.
The developers also are creating a web version of the mobile app. Although the pandemic drove digital business interactions, Tellan said many industry professionals spend a lot of time in front of laptops as opposed to smartphones.
"Therefore, we took the decision to develop a web version of our mobile app to make it easier to access and upload content. It will be ready later in 2021," he said.