Challenges of Plastic Manufacturing Industries
If we chin up our heads from our mobile screens, we would realize we are surrounded by one common thing around us. Yes! You guessed it correctly. No matter where we are in offices, restaurants, shopping malls, grocery shops, hospitals, schools, colleges, parks, homes, or any other place one could think of, we are surrounded by plastic everywhere. If we observe our daily life minutely, we will notice that how right from getting up in the morning by the alarm clock, taking out toothpaste from the plastic tube, collecting milk in plastic packets, and even getting everything packed in plastic containers and packets, metro tokens are made of plastic, we just cannot survive without plastics. The covid situation has altogether increased the demand for plastic products in the form of PPE kits, gloves, face masks, helmets, etc. Have you ever wondered about how these plastic products are manufactured? Is it an easy or a daunting task to manufacture such a huge quantity of plastic products? Nothing is easy if we witness it minutely. Everything has its own cost and its own share of challenges. Plastic manufacturing industries are no different. Let us dive deep into the plastic industry to reveal its challenges and problems in manufacturing and meeting the huge demand. To make it easy to understand, we have listed the various major challenges faced by the plastic manufacturing industries as follows:
Sustainable production: Though the huge demand for plastic products around us might seem to be a boon, it is quite a big responsibility. It is equally challenging to meet such growing demand of the growing population. During the pandemic too, the demand for plastic utility products grew to a great extent. Keeping pace with that demand is not at all an easy task. To manage the mushrooming demand one needs to set up a big manufacturing unit and huge manpower. Maintaining and fulfilling the government norms for the large manpower at work is also very challenging. The demand always creates pressure on the manufacturer to produce more and more quickly. Also, the lifespan of a plastic product has decreased to months from years which has created the need to produce more plastic products in less time.
Meeting the quality- Your worry is absolutely correct this time. I can easily guess that you are thinking about the quality of these products. Well! When enormous plastic products are produced in a short span of time, the precision and efficiency of the products are at risk. It becomes quite impossible to reduce human errors to zero percentage. The efficacy of the products produced is hampered in a big way. These lots are segregated from the fresh lots and increase wastage. The products that have quality issues thus increase the cost of production. The manufacturer needs to put in constant efforts and checks to ensure the quality at each stage of production. These quality issues could be easily reduced through an automation quality check system.
The environmental threat- Do you remember how many times our government tried to ban the use of plastic products? Yes, many a time. Though it was not possible as we could not found any replacement material for plastic. The unaltered important place of plastic in our daily life could not be ignored at all. At the same time, we can not close our eyes to the environmental threat it is creating around us. You will be surprised to know that approximately 13 million tons of plastic waste is dumped into oceans annually and half of the total plastic production is for single-use. Out of the total production, only 20% of plastic is recycled. We can easily notice huge dumps of non-biodegradable wastes of plastic bottles, polythene, packing material, etc. Our ocean beds have turned into permanent homes of plastic wastes. The beauty of marine life is at stake due to the plastic waste accumulating there. Even the land animals can be seen eating plastic garbage that puts their life at risk. We could notice the awareness about the environment in the society and the global world as a whole. From production to use to disposal of plastic, each stage adds to the greenhouse effect affecting nature. All of these together put a great challenge on the manufacturers to save the environment and continue plastic production as per the market requirement. It was quite challenging to fulfill the environmental regulations with tons of plastic production every day. Researchers have found out a new kind of environment-friendly plastic to save the environment from the threat of getting destroyed.
The health hazards- As we have discussed, the demand for plastic products is increasing every day. The pandemic has added the topping of more plastic products needs on the already huge demand.
To fulfill and meet this wide range of demands needs vast manpower. At the same time, the covid situation has put a limit on the number of working men in the campus. The alternate-day working theory and maintaining physical distance have increased the challenge on the production unit. Along with the production challenge the covid situation has also added the health hazard challenge of the working labor. Being able to produce the right quantity with the optimum quality with the least error and damaged lots in time keeping all the necessary precautions is the biggest challenge manufacturing units are facing these days. All the plastic production industries are trying to find their own solutions to the challenge and many are following the path of automation. Implementing plastic injection molding machines is helping the manufacturers to strengthen their customer service and keeping track of the health of their workers.
Innovation and competition- Don’t you think when plastic products are in so much of demand, many people must have tried to opt for it as their easy income source. Producing plastic products is probably a very common business around the globe. At the same time the more the competitors the more is the responsibility to stand out of the crowd. It adds immense pressure to innovate uniqueness in your product. After the pandemic, the health and hygiene of all the products have reached the top priority in the list. The focus has shifted to antibacterial packaging and aseptic materials as per the hygienic needs of the customers. The competition becomes tougher with new emerging technology every day. To capture the market your product must have special unique features that attract and hold your customer base. Not only once, but the manufacturing units also need to innovate something or the other at some fixed interval of time to remain the bestseller in the plastic industry.
- Lack of resources and distribution challenges- Every article to be produced needs raw material. After the pandemic, travel has come to a halt. And with the pause in travel, a big challenge faced by the manufacturing industries is the availability of resources. The manufacturers are forced to find raw materials and other resources near their vicinity. The pandemic has also brought with it the challenge to meet the requirement of the labor force.Even if one manages to solve the resource challenge, the lack of a proper supply chain at the distributers end is all set to welcome. The supply chain is built with connections among suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. The fluctuating market price and sudden increase in demands all disrupt the normal process of production of plastic materials around the globe.
- Lack of skilled man force- the immense pressure on the production units of plastic industries are forced to incorporate the new and latest technologies in their manufacturing process. Lack of skilled labor to run and operate with the technical advancement leaves the manufacturers helpless. It becomes a challenging task to find a skilled labor force to operate the production process.
- Incorporation of technology and automation- Automation is often misunderstood to be a job destroyer. Many small enterprises fear incorporating automation and technology for its huge cost and other challenges. To keep pace with the competitors and the market demands every plastic manufacturing industry needs to build its plants around the latest technology trend and automation. Though at the start it might seem to be investing a large amount of money it proves to be cost-effective and capable of fulfilling the enormous market demand.
Volatile raw material prices- Market can never remain stable. To think and assume the market to remain stable is like writing dreams over water. The fluctuating market makes the cost of raw materials volatile. The volatility of the cost of raw materials always adds to the manufacturing cost of the product.
After facing all the challenges and beating them, the plastic industry stands firm even today. When many industries have seen shut down or loss of jobs, it’s the plastic industry giving hope to everyone. The plastic industry is emerging as one of the powerful sectors to help in the recovery of jobs. According to a survey within the plastic industry, 25% of the manufacturers shared their plans to expand their business. The plastic industry is the hope of all and it will emerge even more powerful and strong in the future.