Plastics Processing Bounces Back from Brief Lull

September Index climbs 5.5% from prior month.

The Gardner Business Index (GBI) for Plastics Processing reversed its direction from the last five months, rebounding to 56 for September (Index values above 50 indicate expansion; values below 50 indicate contraction; an index of 50 reveals no change). The latest reading returns the index to positive territory, gaining 5.5% over the same month a year ago. The index was driven higher by supplier deliveries, followed by new orders and production. New orders, employment, backlog and exports all pulled the average-based index lower.

For a fifth month in a row, supplier deliveries expanded significantly more than all other components of the index. As such, Gardner will be closely watching production figures in the coming months to determine if the above-average expansion of supplier deliveries unlocks additional manufacturing potential that may have been constrained by bottlenecks in the manufacturing supply chain.

Interestingly, any production constraints from the supply chain over the last few months have not seemed to generate increased backlogs. Oscillating between expansion and contraction during the prior three months, backlogs expanded significantly in September, registering their fourth-highest reading since 2013. This increase came despite a simultaneous expansion in production.

GBI is the market-research arm of Gardner Business Media, the publisher of Plastics Technology. GBI calculates its monthly index based on replies to surveys sent to subscribers of this magazine.