Manufacturing is getting more national attention in this difficult pandemic year than at any time in recent memory. The people who make the goods we rely on are playing a heroic role by continuing to keep operations running smoothly while many
of us have had the luxury—and challenge—of learning to work and lead from our homes.
As anyone in the industry knows, there has been unique pressure on supply chains. We see mirror images playing out before us, with demand surging in some areas while collapsing in others. Temporary production shutdowns to keep workers safe have
caused some supply chain delays and interruptions that continue even now.
In other cases, companies quickly pivoted their energies to make entirely new product lines, such as the spirits producers who started “brewing” hand sanitizer or the automotive plants that rushed to produce masks or ventilators. New
supply chain requirements ensued.
We have faced an unpredictable array of new challenges to our manufacturing processes and supply chains during the spring and summer of 2020. Yet, three simple questions arise over and over: What can be done to keep our factory floor employees
safe and our supply chains operational? How can manufacturers cope with radical swings in supply and demand? And finally, how can U.S. manufacturers get to market more quickly and more flexibly than ever before?
The answers can be found in robotics, advanced automation, and digitalization, the topics covered in this issue of electroindustry. At all levels, especially in the production process, technology is already available today to ensure that
our factories stay open and operate in a way that is safe for employees. This is the heart of keeping our supply chains strong. Artificial intelligence can help us with social distancing as well as tracking and tracing contacts in the event
of infection. And when demand lurches from brick and mortar stores, for example, to ecommerce channels, cobots and robotics optimized for warehouses and logistics can speed the processing of orders to keep critical supplies flowing.
Digital technologies are the key to achieving this inspiring level of resiliency in manufacturing. In this issue, you’ll have a chance to hear from experts in NEMA companies and beyond about these topics and many more. ei
Chairman, NEMA Board of Governors