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Plastics: The Challenges of 21st-century Fabrication

Move over metal - there's a new material taking over the fabrication assembly +industry.

According to a 2015 study from Grand Research, Inc., the global plastics market will reach more than $650 billion by the end of the decade thanks to innovation in packaging, construction and manufacturing, particularly in the automotive sector.

But even though plastics are finally making a name for themselves, plastics fabricators cannot waste a minute finding the right solutions for guiding their businesses through the upcoming economic and logistical challenges as they ramp up to meet the booming global demand.

 

 

Reducing counterfeit materials with stronger supply chain management

U.S. conglomerate DuPont knows well the effect fake polymers can have on product quality and the headache of correcting the issue when things go wrong. As Plastics News reported, DuPont recently issued a warning after it uncovered counterfeit resins in Chinese markets bearing its name. This event harkens back to 2014, when DuPont relocated the manufacture of Aston Martin accelerator pedals to England after partnering Chinese facilities were caught using counterfeit nylon. As a result of the affair, DuPont recalled 17,000 vehicles, with a massive financial cost and all the associated reputational damage caused by the embarrassing situation.

Fake polymers are not as easily detected as other manufactured goods, but they can ruin the quality of a company's products and the reputation of its brand. As such, plastics fabrication must adhere to strict supply chain governance that balances data transparency with automation.

Trends in the plastics fabrication industry

Reverse logistics are a must in eco- and cost-conscious world

A 2016 report from GRID-Arendal estimated about 40 percent of plastics produced globally have single-use applications, 20 percent are long-lasting and another 40 percent have intermediate life spans - consumer electronics, etc. For many plastics manufacturers, reverse logistics will be a necessity for long-term partnerships, especially as their production is set to increase significantly over the next 30 years to meet booming market demand.

the global plastics market will reach more than $650 billion by the end of the decade

Recycling and reprocessing goods may make Mother Nature and your CFO happy, but it's not as simple as flipping a switch in the opposite direction. It requires resource forecasting and the creation of whole new lines of work, which in turn require a digital infrastructure to manage all that movement.

In both endeavors, plastics fabrication as an industry would benefit greatly from advanced enterprise resource planning capabilities with a fully integrated, end-to-end architecture. abas ERP tracks supplies and products with clear visibility into the data, and its limitless customization potential makes it as transformable at the molecular level as the polymers it serves.

Your partners will demand data transparency in supply chains

As the Aston Martin/DuPont recall illustrates perfectly, plastic fabricators are just one part of a huge global supply chain that includes automobile, airplane, electronics, and other industrial manufacturers. When things go wrong in the end product, especially if users are injured or killed by the defective product and part, your industrial partner will need to pay for the damages and will also take a big hit to their reputation. Industrial giants like Toyota and Boeing spend millions of dollars each year enhancing and protecting their brands. If a plastic part you’ve produced for them causes harm, you can bet they’ll be knocking on your door and demanding information, fast.

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Never forget that markets and regulators move fast when things go wrong. If you as a B2B supplier don’t have visibility into all aspects of your plastic fabrication operations, something a great ERP system like abas can offer you, you’ll be caught on the defensive and flailing around for answers when information/data requests arrive from your manufacturing partner. When you lack transparency and data visibility, YOU become a business risk for your business partners. Those partners may, in fact, prospectively evaluate that risk even before they decide to work with you. So you lack of operational visibility may prevent you from working with some business partners.

Long story short, you’re in a great and booming market as a plastic fabricator. But to take full advantage of those possibilities and profits, you need to have your own house in order. That includes having full visibility into your operational data. That becomes even more important when you’re part of a multi-partner global supply chain that basically runs on aggregated data. Having the right ERP system, such as abas, isn’t a “nice-to-have” but is increasingly a “must-have.”

For more information, check out how abas helps plastics manufacturers like you define your industry.

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