Industry Pulse Survey

To better understand the overall impact and future state of the plastics industry, MAPP is conducting a bi-weekly Plastics Industry Pulse Survey. The original survey, which ran from April 20 - June 17, has been modified and updated to provide leaders with more relevant data and insights. The revised Pulse Survey re-launched on August 10, 2020. This 10-question study takes less than two minutes for leaders to complete, but gives insights into how the plastics industry is faring so far - and what executives are anticipating for the future. Participate every other Monday morning through your personalized e-mail link to get the results sent to you every Wednesday. (Request e-mail link) As MAPP continues to collect information, we will begin to trend and make predictions based on the inputs given by plastics industry leaders. 

Data for this article was collected on September 7-11.

This week's results include data provided by 163 organizations. Participating companies are located across 27 states and serve more than 25 primary industry segments. The most common primary industry typically served by respondents this week include medical, automotive, and industrial. Each of these primary industries will have its data highlighted this week throughout this article.

At what level is your plant currently operating?

Overall, the industry is reporting positive operating levels at facilities across the country. In the peak of the pandemic, mid-April and May, nearly half of all manufacturers were reporting they were operating at 75% or less. As of September 11, 77% of processors are operating at 80 percent or higher - up 10 percentage points from two weeks ago. Additionally, the number of processors operating at 40-70 percent has decreased compared two weeks ago. Once again, no companies indicated that plant operations are below 20 percent.

Operating Levels by Industry:

Operating Levels Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
~100% Operations 34% 49% 48%
80-90% Operations 32% 19% 19%
60-70% Operations 22% 22% 30%
40-50% Operations 12% 11% 0%
20-30% Operations 0% 0% 4%
~10% Operations 0% 0% 0%
Full shutdown 0% 0% 0%

Rank your view of the changing business climate over the following periods, taking into account Sales Trends, Feedback from Customers, New Business and Ability to Meet Demand.

Leaders were asked to look out over the next 30 days, 3 months and 6 months and rank their optimism levels for the changing business climate. Over the next 30 days, 40 percent of manufacturers report general optimism (between 8 and 10), while only 17 percent report feeling openly pessimistic (1-4). This is slightly less positive than data reported two weeks ago. Looking ahead, over the next 3 months, processors are more likely to report neutral or uncertain views. This view is consistent with data reported two weeks ago. And looking at the 6-month outlook, company leaders are more likely to report neutral or slight optimistic results, many likely hoping that 2021 will realize many of the projects that have been put on hold recently and help bring production levels back to normal.

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Next 30 Days
  • 26% Optimistic (8-10)
  • 14% Pessimistic (1-4)
  • 44% Optimistic
  • 28% Pessimistic
  • 40% Optimistic
  • 7% Pessimistic
Next 3 Months
  • 23% Optimistic
  • 21% Pessimistic 
  • 38% Optimistic
  • 8% Pessimistic
  • 21% Optimistic
  • 4% Pessimistic
Next 6 Months
  • 23% Optimistic
  • 21% Pessimistic
  • 38% Optimistic
  • 3% Pessimistic
  • 44% Optimistic
  • 15% Pessimistic

At what level are you currently staffed?

As customers continue to open up and operations are ramping up for many plastics companies, employers are able to call employees back to work. A majority (64%) of companies continue to report they are fully staffed, while another 31% are staffed around 75%. The percentage of organizations reporting being staffed at less than half continues to remain low - with just 6% reporting.

Interestingly, processors are reporting anecdotally to the MAPP staff that they would be staffed at 100% but are currently unable to find employees to fill positions to meet current demand. Finding employees has been a challenge for processors before the pandemic. However, unemployment benefits, fear and inadequate access to childcare have made filling positions even more challenging for manufacturers. 

Current Staffing Levels by Industry:

Staffing Levels Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
90 - 100% Staffed 61% 70% 67%
About 75% Staffed 29% 30% 30%
About 50% Staffed 10% 0% 0%
Less than 50% Staffed 0% 0% 4%
Full Shutdown 0% 0% 0%

In terms of future staff planning (next 1-3 months), we are...

To better understand overall future planning, companies were asked about their near-future staff planning, or how staffing would change over the next 1-3 months. Reported plans only revealed minor changes compared to two weeks ago. A large majority, 94 percent, of processors report they plan to either maintain current staff or hire additional employees in the near future. However, 7 percent indicate they will have at least some permanent or semi-permanent staff reductions moving forward. 

This is a positive outlook compared to data from just 6 weeks ago. In mid-June, only 39 percent of manufacturers were reporting plans to add staff and 14 percent had plans for staff reductions. The concern and focus here will likely continue to be on finding workers to meet production demands.  While unemployment numbers are still much higher than they were at the start of 2020, manufacturing dense states, such as Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, are reporting lower unemployment rates compared to the rest of the US, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Future Staffing Plans by Industry:

Future Staffing Levels Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Looking to Add Staff 49% 43% 56%
Maintaining Levels 46% 49% 37%
Some Staff Reductions 2% 8% 7%
Large Staff Reductions 2% 0% 0%

Are you experiencing supply chain issues that impact your ability to produce and do you anticipate future supply chain issues (1-3 months)?

Current Supply Chain

Future Supply Chain

Processors were asked to examine their overall supply chain and report on current or potential issues. In general, processors are not experiencing or anticipating moderate or major issues with their supply chain. However, the percentage of companies reporting minor issues and disruptions has increased slightly compared to several weeks ago. 

Supply Chain Issues by Industry:

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
  Current   |   Future Current   |   Future Current   |   Future
No issues with supply chain 42%   |   60% 57%   |   53% 41%   |   37%
Minimal Issues 51%   |   35% 43%   |   41% 41%   |   44%
Moderate Issues 7%   |   5% 0%   |   6% 15%   |   15%
Major Issues 0%   |   0% 0%   |   0% 4%   |   4%

If you have a line of credit, what percentage availability do you on your line of credit?

To better understand the financial position of organizations, this week's Pulse Survey included a look at an organization's line of credit. Overall, 84 percent of participants indicated their organization has a line of credit. Thirty-two percent report that they still have 100% of that line of credit available, indicating a positive position. However, another 34 percent of companies indicated they have less than 50 percent of their line of credit available. During the peak of the crisis, many organizations drew down on their lines of credit as a precautionary move to allow the organization to have cash accessible to them during an uncertain time. 

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
N/A 12% 18% 5%
0% 6% 6% 9%
1% - 25% 18% 3% 10%
26% - 50% 21% 12% 12%
51% - 75% 9% 12% 12%
76% - 99% 9% 15% 20%
100% 24% 35% 32%

Including line of credit, how many weeks of cash flow or working capital do you have on hand?

MAPP asked industry leaders to report on their current cash on hand levels. It should be noted that beginning on August 24, it was specified that leaders should include the line of credit in their cash on hand calculation. The majority (62%) of companies indicate they have at least three months of cash on hand for business operations. However, 19 percent indicate that their organization has less than one month of cash on hand for business operations.

Cash Flow by Industry:

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
1-7 Days 3% 0% 0%
1-2 Weeks 6% 6% 9%
3-4 Weeks 12% 6% 23%
1-2 Months 15% 22% 23%
3-6 Months 29% 31% 9%
>6 Months 35% 34% 36%

What is the current status of outstanding accounts receivable (days aging)?

To further understand the financial position of organizations, MAPP asked executives to evaluate the current status of their accounts receivable. Approximately 7 out of 10 of processors report that there has been little to no change in their aging accounts receivables. However, 22 percent are seeing an increase in their aging accounts receivable, while 9 percent are experiencing decreases in days aging for A/R. The data from this week's Pulse Survey varies only slightly compared to data reported two weeks ago.

Aging Accounts Receivable by Industry

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Significant Increase 0% 0% 0%
Increase 28% 19% 23%
No Change 63% 70% 77%
Decrease 10% 11% 0%
Significant Decrease 0% 0% 0%

What is the current status of backlog of orders?

As a measure of business conditions and potential future business, processors rated the current status of backlog of orders. For 47 percent of organizations, backlog is increasing, and another 36 percent report that backlog is remaining steady or flat. However, another 17 percent report that the backlog of orders is decreasing or significantly decreasing.

Backlog of Orders by Industry

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Significant Increase 8% 5% 15%
Increase 43% 30% 35%
No Change 30% 54% 31%
Decrease 10% 11% 19%
Significant Decrease 10% 0% 0%

What is the current status of quoting volume?

Looking ahead and potential future business, leaders reported on the current volume of quotes. Forty-four percent of companies report that the number of quotes are increasing, and 39 percent report no change. However, nearly 1 in 5 (18%) say that quoting volume is decreasing. It should also be noted that while may processors are indicated an increase in quoting volume, anecdotally, many company leaders have reported feelings of frustration as the correlation between quoting volume and orders received is not as strong as before.

Backlog of Orders by Industry

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Significant Increase 3% 8% 0%
Increase 38% 39% 54%
No Change 45% 28% 35%
Decrease 10% 22% 12%
Significant Decrease 5% 3% 0%

At this time, with the information currently available to you and your team, when are you anticipating production levels to return to "normal"?

Company leaders were asked to look forward and share when they believe they will experience the elusive "return to normal" or pre-COVID-19 production levels. Over the last several months, the percent of companies anticipating a return to normal in 2020 has decreased. At the end of June, only 30 percent of manufacturers believed that production wouldn't return to normal in 2020. Two weeks ago, on August 14, that had increased significantly, to 42%. Perhaps the most telling data point to indicate the overall confidence of plastics industry leaders is this week's response to predicted "return to normal." More than ever, processors do not anticipate a return to normal anytime in 2020, with 50% of companies sharing this prediction. 

Return to Normal by Industry

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
Production not impacted 0% 14% 8%
Already returned to normal 32% 11% 19%
End of August 0% 0% 0%
End of September 12% 8% 4%
End of October 7% 6% 8%
End of November 5% 8% 0%
End of December 0% 6% 0%
No time in 2020 44% 47% 62%

How are you forecasting revenue through the end of 2020?

While the industry is changing rapidly, executives were asked how they are currently forecasting revenue through the end of 2020. As year-end continues to get closer, their is a shift in how leaders are forecasting revenue for the end of 2020. Thirty-six percent of manufacturers are now forecasting revenue for the end of 2020 at 95% or higher of budget. This is 4 percentage points lower than two weeks ago. Additionally. more than half, 56 percent, of companies are still anticipating revenue to be down at least 25% if not more. 

End of Year Sales Forecast by Industry

  Automotive Medical Consumer Goods
95%+ of 2020 forecast 18% 49% 37%
75% of 2020 forecast 76% 49% 59%
50% of 2020 forecast 7% 0% 0%
<50% of 2020 forecast 0% 2% 4%

Remember to check this site every Wednesday for the bi-weekly update. If you have suggestions for questions to be added or changed, please e-mail MAPP's membership & analytics manager, Ashley Turrell, at