It’s Not Enough to Tighten Your Belt
The golden years are behind us: last year, plastics production declined by 3.1 %. For the current year, the VDMA is now reckoning with a fall in revenue of at least 10 %, and BASF alone is assuming up to 30 % lower earnings for 2019. What started with the slump in the automotive industry about nine months ago is now hitting supplier groups, and their suppliers. The poor image of the packaging sector is also having an impact. The decline is not pleasing, but after ten years of continuous growth it is also not dramatic; even though certain sectors are hit harder than others.
Many plastics processors have close ties to the automotive industry via long supply chains and sophisticated technical parts. After the 2009 crisis, this is now coming back to bite them again. Despite painful experiences, they developed very few other mainstays during the long growth phase. In difficult times, it is not just a matter of tightening ones belt with extensive efficiency, restructuring and cost-cutting programs, including jobs cuts (see market reports, p. 6 and following). To return to growth, strategic investments are necessary as a lifeline. Though there may be no big profits in the offing, it is worthwhile keeping an eye out, e. g. at K 2019, for such lifelines for one’s own company. Highly promising candidates at present are the circular economy and digitalization. Not least due to the automotive industry’s precarious situation at present, one should also look further afield.
For me personally, it’s time to say goodbye for the time being. I will be leaving the Kunststoffe editorial team at the end of September. My warm thanks to all those whom I have worked with so well and happily over the recent years.
International Polymer Processing, the journal of the Polymer Processing Society, is a discussion forum for the world-wide community of engineers and scientists in the field of polymer processing.
The journal covers research and industrial application in the very specific areas of designing polymer products, processes, processing machinery and equipment.
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