Polyethylene (PE) is a versatile polymer that’s used in a wide variety of applications across industries. That’s why companies rely on polymer supply chains to deliver a consistent product that can be customized according to their needs. To be sure you’re going to receive a reliable product, every time, here are five traits you should be looking for in a polymer supplier:

1. Proximity

Not only will choosing a PE supplier in your backyard reduce the risk of product delays and cut transportation costs, it will also make it the working relationship more effective. For example, a supplier that’s nearby could expedite orders and get you the product you need more quickly, with fewer hiccups. Similarly, suppliers with facilities in regions that won’t be impacted by Gulf Coast hurricanes ensure your supply chain is more resilient.

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2. Innovation Space

Continuous product development is essential for plastic converters who want to take advantage of the latest industry breakthroughs and maintain a competitive position in the marketplace. Unfortunately, most converters have to shut down part of their factory whenever they want to create samples and do testing. That’s why converters should look for polymer suppliers who have a state-of-the-art innovation space. This dedicated area will allow you to troubleshoot issues, conduct product trials, and test new equipment without losing productivity, which is better for your bottom-line.

Find Out the Best Practices of Top-Tier Industrial Polymers Suppliers

3. Operational Excellence

For a supplier to deliver PE products in a timely manner, they need to have digitalization embedded throughout their business -- from day-to-day operations to the customer experience. That said, only the newest facilities have had a chance to take advantage of cutting-edge Industry 4.0 Manufacturing technologies.

For example, state-of-the-art control rooms at new polyethylene plants have reliability engineers assigned to each production area who conduct real-time, continuous monitoring of critical equipment to minimize shutdown durations. Many have also been built with an internal power source and energy islanding capability that automatically takes the plant off the grid if there is an external disturbance, which reduces downtime risk and makes uptime more reliable.

When reliability is one of the metrics that is most important to your business, suppliers who push the boundaries and operate in this new digital world should be at the top of your list.

Reinventing PE Supplier Communication

Title: Converter Chronicle 1 - Checked-Out Suppliers

Duration: 48 Seconds

Description: A short video about the challenge of supplier communication in the polyethylene industry

Converter Chronicle 1 - Checked-Out Suppliers Transcript

[male voice]

You’re busy doing all the things. Like dealing with… Advanced forecasting, pricing negotiations, and supply chain oversight.

You shouldn’t have to deal with suppliers that treat you like a transaction.

That’s why Shell Polymers is reinventing the experience, with a customer-centric model that understands your business.

We’re putting your unique needs first. So you can focus on what’s most important - growth.

Customer Care. With a capital C.

That’s one way we Break the Mold.

4. Industry Expertise

Suppliers that are staying on the cutting-edge of the PE industry will hire thought leaders who have a finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends. These polymer experts and pioneers are knee-deep in the latest advances, so their active participation in key organizations make them an asset for companies who want to stay ahead of polyethylene market trends.

The most innovative suppliers will also hire technical experts in all the areas that matter to your business -- logistics, engineering, marketing, and more. These specialists should be available as a resource to offer credible industry advice and collaborate on customized solutions for each customer’s individual needs.

Explore Industry Expertise In This Fireside Chat with Polymer Pioneers: Pipe & Film

5. Customer-Centric Culture

Pairing the latest technology with human creativity empowers suppliers to provide an individualized experience and help converters overcome their unique challenges. If a supplier has a dedicated team available to build relationships, they are more likely to deliver a consistent product and offer the best service.

One way to tell if your suppliers are leveraging people and technology together is to find out whether they notify customers before an issue arises. This proactive approach is essential because timely communication from suppliers is the building block of stable business relationships in the PE industry and demonstrates genuine customer-centricity.

According to Mastio’s industry-wide studies, responsiveness consistently ranks among the most important traits of HDPE Resin suppliers..1 Companies that have customer experience as part of their mandate will get back to you quickly, providing supply chain transparency.

Finding a supplier in this complex industry can be a challenge, but these five traits will allow converters to identify the ones that can help your business grow and succeed. Shell Polymers understands what goes into creating a consistent polyethylene supply and proudly fosters an environment where customers can benefit from their deep industry expertise. Sign up for updates to learn more about how we can support your business in the future.

1 Mastio & Company. “HDPE Customer Value & Loyalty Study.” 12th Edition. October 2015.