Readying for recovery

Posted on Jan 13, 2021 :: Editors Note
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

While flipping the calendar to a new year is a symbolic gesture in some ways, the act of doing so can feel powerful and galvanizing. At no point in my lifetime has it ever been more important to tap into that fresh resolve. The damage of the pandemic has touched companies of every size, even those that have fared better than others. As 2021 begins, many companies are continuing to chart their path to recovery.

Our January issue of IOM is filled with advice and analysis on how to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and become stronger in the long run. In this month’s cover story, Insight Editor MaryBeth Matzek looks at how manufacturers in the region are using robots and automation. Embracing technology on the plant floor is vital for many reasons. Robots can provide a solution to the talent gap and take over jobs that may be dangerous or monotonous for human workers. Beyond that, they can help maintain productivity during times of disruption like the one we’re all experiencing. Robots can play a role in creating needed social distancing and don’t need to call in sick or quarantine. Read more on page 10.

Beginning with this issue, you’ll see new topics that we’ll cover on a rotating basis. In addition to Global and Education & Training stories, we’ll be looking at Talent, Technology and Sustainability. Developing a sustainability plan is another way to position your company for resiliency, says Jessy Servi Ortiz, managing director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. The organization’s Green Masters program provides a benchmarking, idea generation and recognition tool for businesses as they pursue their sustainability goals. Learn more on page 18, and please get in touch with me if you have story ideas for any of our new feature areas.

The new year brings with it a mix of hope and uncertainty. While vaccines are beginning to roll out, it likely will be months before enough people are inoculated for life to begin to move to a new normal. In addition, a new administration is taking over. Since the beginning of the pandemic, economists and industry experts have been tracking the effects of COVID-19 on the manufacturing sector. Turn to page 21 to read my feature looking at what 2021 and beyond could bring for manufacturers and what’s needed to thrive as disruptions continue.

In my never-ending quest for knowledge and enlightenment, I recently came across the idea that it’s better to create intentions than resolutions. The logic is that the latter often focuses on something you want to avoid doing and thus leads to feelings of failure when you inevitably slip up, while the former invites you to focus on something you want to do or accomplish and keep coming back to it, even if you mess up. Whether it’s resolutions or intentions that work for you — or neither at all — I hope you’ll find what you need to keep going. I wish you health, wellness and a brighter 2021.