While 61 percent of mold builders are fully up and running, many manufacturers of the molds used to shape raw materials into plastic products are in rough shape because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Twenty-six percent of the businesses in the mold making industry are at 50-75 percent of their pre-pandemic production levels. Another 13 percent are operating at half their normal level or worse. One percent shut down.
A quarter of the businesses don't expect their operations to return to normal at all in 2020.
The data comes from 318 respondents of the weekly "pulse surveys" taken by the Indianapolis-based American Mold Builders Association, a trade association with more than 280 members and partner suppliers serving dozens of markets.
"One thing that has been a struggle is the startup of the auto sector," Executive Director Troy Nix said in a May 27 webcast of AMBA's annual meeting. "I know plastics processors and the rubber product manufacturers are struggling, waiting for the full-fledge startup to begin."
Only 42 percent of survey takers that primarily serve the auto market are fully operational compared to 91 percent serving mostly the medical market.
Regardless of end markets, most sales projections are being revised. While 29 percent of the businesses expect to meet at least 95 percent of their financial goal, the rest are bracing to fall far short, according to the AMBA survey conducted May 20-22.
Only 58 percent of the respondents expect to reach 75 percent of their 2020 financial forecast, 11 percent say they will meet 50 percent of projections and 2 percent don't expect to achieve half their initial target.
A lot of the feedback from businesses is troubling to Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of Harbor Results Inc. in Southfield, Mich., a financial and operational consulting firm for manufacturers. Most tool and die shops already were planning for 2020 to be a light year in terms of sales, Harbour noted.
"If they were only planning for 80 percent of 2019 volumes and now they're planning for 75 percent of that, we're looking at an industry that will take a significant impact in the 2020 calendar year," Harbour said during the online meeting.
Her firm has been conducting its own monthly surveys of some 325 businesses — mold builders, molders, stamping firms and die manufacturers — about how the COVID-19 virus, which was declared a pandemic on March 11, is affecting their operations.
Thirty-five percent of tool shops and 47 percent of production shops are concerned about the future because business is significantly down. Some of them won't survive the COVID-19 crisis.
"In October of last year, I forecast a 10-15 percent loss of mold shops and die shops over the next five years. I wasn't anticipating that soon," Harbour said. "Unfortunately, I think that number will be similar, if not more, and I think it will be moved forward quite a bit."