Plastics Industry Survey
Part Three - Changing Roles in the Value Chain
DuPont and Plastics News recently surveyed plastics professionals to understand trends, issues and challenges in the plastics community as they relate to product development and material needs. DuPont Performance Polymers North America Director HH Wong shares his thoughts.
Q – Nearly 40 percent of the plastics professionals who took the survey said the role of materials supplier is gaining in importance. Why is that?
HH: When we looked at the comments provided in the survey, we saw a number of important themes that indicate they want better collaboration and more product development support. And they want it fast because the product development cycles are speeding up.
Q – What did the industry say they want from materials suppliers?
HH: Basically they want materials suppliers to hone what they do best – helping designers and developers select the optimal material. Not only do we need to really understand our product lines and industry trends, we also have to ensure that we bring new ideas, capabilities and materials.
They are also asking for suppliers to “step up” testing and material characterization capabilities, which includes mold-filling analysis, finite element analysis, and product properties testing. All the techniques that help them reduce the number of prototyping steps in the whole development cycle.
Q- What about cost – is it still an issue?
HH: Cost underlies everything, but it is a headwind or tailwind that you strategically manage. But we have experienced significant successes in managing cost when we collaborate early in the development phase. That way we all have a chance to design parts that integrate functions and reduce part count and assembly costs. We also collaborate during the design stage and use technology to simulate molding and optimize design so we can reduce the number of prototypes.
The critical part to a successful program is collaboration - ideally before all the design work is finalized – so we can bring our global team of experts to the table in any market to help improve the performance, sustainability and cost of the final product.
Who Took the Survey?
The DuPont, Plastics News ‘Plastics Industry Trends’ survey was conducted by email in February 2015. More than 800 industry professionals qualified themselves as being involved in the selection, use or purchase of resins, polymers or elastomers. Most respondents use engineering polymers, general polymers and elastomers. Their job functions are primarily research and development, management and the design community. The markets primarily served are automotive, industrial and electrical/electronic. Nearly half of respondents are based in the United States; one fourth in Europe and the rest are from regions around the world.