“More intelligent elements will be incorporated in future plant designs”

by Heike Fischer

PETplanet Insider talked with a spokesman of the management team of GDXL about the company’s experience during the Covid-19 pandemic and the PET market in China. We thank the GDXL team very much for their assessment of the situation on site.

PETplanet: China was the first country to be hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking back at the beginning of this year what have been challenges for GDXL? And how did you manage them?

GDXL: During February, China was hit hard by the pandemic and daily new confirmed infection reached its peak. Some of our colleagues had returned home during LNY and were stranded in pandemic-stricken provinces. So our workforce was not in full.

Since it was uncertain when lockdown would be relieved and there were accumulated orders and deliveries to complete – upon full consideration of safety – we decided to resume operation in mid-February, around a week delay from the original schedule.

We stayed highly cautious. To ensure hygienic safety we applied stringent measures including frequent temperature check, daily report of travel history and body conditions, quarantine measures in company’s canteen and dorm, rationing of masks, etc. We also maintained good communications with government officials and strictly followed their rules and guidelines.

Logistic service was affected in the beginning by quarantine measures but just to a limited extent. In general, we were able to arrange deliveries of samples and finished products on time.

PETplanet: Upon completion of the lockdown how did you start running the business again?

GDXL: Since we resumed operation relatively early, we had more time to react and prepare. Our sales team checked the situations in every region, and maintained good communications with overseas colleagues, agents and customers. We accessed their business needs and adjusted R&D and production plans accordingly, so as to minimise the impact on our projects.

PETplanet: How do you assess the situation in the PET industry in China today? What will be the challenges in the near future?

GDXL: Although the pandemic has suppressed consumers’ sentiment, the demand for PET packaged products has been steadily growing in China in long run. The pandemic has shown the hygienic advantages and convenience of plastic packages, which supports its demand as a necessity during difficult times. Surviving the crisis and getting well prepared for future regional and global economic recovery are the main tasks to be fulfilled.

During the lockdown there were accelerated development and utilisation of online sales outlets, either self-developed or from third party, by brand owners. They also provided different levels of assistance and credit relieve measures to their employees, suppliers and retailers, so as to maintain product supply chains as intact as possible.

PETplanet: What is the feedback of your customers? Are you able to support them? Do they have special needs – different needs – since the pandemic?

GDXL: Our worldwide customers have been affected to different extents according to their regions. Due to border control we support overseas customers through online means, logistics or local representatives. Their needs are somehow as usual which include shortening delivery time, fast trouble-shooting response, etc.

PETplanet: What about machine manufacturing: do you think that the running systems worked well during the Covid-19 period? Can on-site service continue despite high demands?

GDXL: Plants with high degree of intelligent control and automated development may suffer less in production. Safe and reasonable work shift adjustments can also help maintain normal running of production systems as far as possible.

It is less feasible to provide on-site service in person especially for overseas customers. Providing technical support through online means or local professional resources may help.

PETplanet: What outcomes and experiences of the crisis will be incorporated in future overall plant designs?

GDXL: In our opinion, more intelligent elements will be incorporated in future plant designs. Application of unmanned infrastructure, software and IOT systems can improve productivity and precision. It also reduces close human contact, lowering contagious risks. The crisis may accelerate such development.

Such experience may also be considered in designing employees’ amenities. For instance, more spacious and hygienic facilities may be applied. But perhaps the post-crisis improvement will be more reflected in plant management. We will see more sophisticated safety precautions, flexible work shift arrangements and employees’ training.

PETplanet: What will be the future strategy of GDXL? Is there anything special you would like to tell our readers, your customers?

GDXL: Throughout the years we have evolved from merely a mould manufacturer to an engineering partner providing complete solutions for PET packaging. Since 2018, together with our partners, we have launched complete preform production systems with optional multilayer capabilities. This opens opportunities for our customers to keep up with the forefront of market trends. www.gdxl.com

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