Getting Back to Normal? What does that mean for the plastic industry?
As lockdown restrictions remain unknown and businesses begin to re-open, employers are looking at additional measures to make their workplaces Covid-secure. Masks, hand sanitizers, and social distancing are all still a valuable part of every company’s plan but from the start of the pandemic, one of the most popular elements has been the use of plastic sheeting as barrier screens, sneeze guards and a whole range of other names given to this application.
Since Spring 2020 manufacturers of acrylic, PETG, and polycarbonate sheet struggle as demand initially soared and then remained at unprecedented levels, consistently outstripping supply since lockdown began. Manufacturers and distributors who normally supply industries such as aviation, automotive, construction, exhibition, display and signage suddenly found themselves under immense pressure to produce vast amounts as swiftly as possible as key businesses sought to protect employees and customers. In fact, the manufacturers themselves became key workers!
At the start of the pandemic, many companies were producing small desktop-size acrylic screens that could be deployed quickly by staff in customer-facing roles. These screens represented an extremely useful temporary measure until we all work out the best way to proceed in the “new normal”.
However, as shops and businesses review their safety screening systems and begin thinking in the longer term, there is a move to more customised, durable solutions. The requirement now has migrated from thinner screen solutions (such as 2mm) to thicker screens that can withstand prolonged use while maintaining its integrity.
Businesses are now using large acrylic, polycarbonate and PETG sheet in a range of environments such as:
- free-standing structures to partition rooms/corridors to ensure social distancing
- setting up one-way routes through public buildings (galleries/museums/libraries)
- screening at supermarket checkouts
- large screens in cafes/serving areas
- dividing public areas in restaurants and canteens from the kitchens
- screens between desks or workstations in offices and factories
And whilst we have passed the ‘first’ peak, what will happen in the coming months? As industries start back up again, albeit some in a limited capacity, plastic sheet manufacturers appear to have caught up.
Until Covid-19, most of the businesses who use acrylic in their day-to-day work have been shut down and workers furloughed to some degree. With the continued return to work, the impact of the current situation will soon become apparent. Is your business ready? In situations such as this, it is vital to have a robust supply chain. Evonasa have developed strong working partnerships with plastic manufacturers from around the world. Our extensive network of suppliers means we can access products quickly when required, meaning we can not only meet spikes in demand but do so at a competitive cost.
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