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What Will You Say about 2020?

The virus did impact mold manufacturing this past year but instead of forcing change, it just made the changes happen sooner.
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I say ‘lessons learned.’ This was the year of acceleration brought on by the coronavirus. As I heard my industry friend James Sotos of Industrial Strength Marketing say, “COVID-19 is The Great Accelerator.” I’m not sure if James coined that phrase, but I like it. I believe it expresses exactly how this virus impacted mold manufacturing this past year—instead of forcing change, it just made the changes happen sooner.

Here are some of the changes that were on their way to happening eventually but are now a priority in many shops:

  • Reshoring work to manage supply chains better and eliminate risk
  • Diversifying the customer base so as not to put all eggs in one basket
  • Improving worker health and safety, including mental health
  • Securing new technology investment
  • Becoming more predictable, stable and reliable
  • Automating with proven methods to prepare for new jobs
  • Taking action with technology such as automation, lights-out manufacturing and Industry 4.0 tools like remote accessibility/remote monitoring of processing equipment and predictive maintenance
  • Collecting and using data to make more informed short-and long-term action plans
  • Focusing more on planning, and the tools and software to do so
  • Refining process flow
  • Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies that might not have come to light on their own
  • Initiating simple time-savers like going to a paperless manufacturing environment
  • Rethinking molds designs and including standardization, less “over engineering”
  • Establishing a culture that allows employees to embrace a new way of working
  • Thinking long-term
  • Developing business plans that account for best, worst and likely scenarios
  • Leadership analyzing the workforce to identify key players
  • Reorganizing the business to get the most out of employees
  • Rethinking new ways to communicate and collaborate
  • Embracing remote and regular communication
  • Building work-from-home strategies
  • Implementing virtual learning and training opportunities
  • Cross-training to get workers more productive with the equipment they have
  • Strengthening support networks, such as coalitions or collaboratives to stay ahead of the impact of any unexpected disruptions to come

Overall, when I look back, I see a community that achieved some very impressive things during a chaotic, uncertain time. A community that came together stood tall, and did what it does best—make the molds that make the products we need every day!

Now it’s time to look forward. Bring on 2021!

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