July/August 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 4
Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” While Einstein was obviously wrestling with cosmic matters, we can apply his aphorism to success in business.
Building owners and system integrators face many challenges—maintaining their existing physical plants, addressing health and wellness concerns, and reconfiguring building structures to respond to ever-changing end-user needs. In the last instance, building owners will face a host of issues arising from an expected increase in hybrid workplace models. In this issue, we explored how NEMA Members’ products and systems create new opportunities and enable businesses to become more agile in responding to those needs.
NEMA Members are also creating opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
Over the past 20 years, many manufacturers adopted just-in-time supply chain principles to maximize business results and remain competitive. Such systems prioritize eliminating waste and redundancy while striving for consistent, predictable inputs, leading to dependable outcomes. Unfortunately, this structure can be fragile, where a delay from a single component supplier can stop an entire line.
This fragility has increased as products incorporate electronics and sensors heavily reliant on integrated circuits (aka “chips”) for a range of purposes. Supply chains have evolved into networks of intertwined companies, where supplier and end user often switch roles multiple times to build a final product. A recent McKinsey report noted that the typical supply chain (or, more accurately, non-linear supply “web”) consists of thousands of companies. For technology companies making the sensors and electronics enabling innovation, as many as 7,000 businesses may be involved in building certain products.
As businesses become more interconnected, the fragility, incidence of interruption, and severity of disruption are magnified. Recent events like the semiconductor shortage, the Suez Canal blockage, and new regulations highlight how events can ripple across adjacent manufacturing sectors—impacting, and in some cases completely shuttering for a period—entire industries. These disruptive events underscore the imperative for manufacturers to review their business models and consider a shift. This will not simply entail moving from a “just-in-time” to “just-in- case” approach. Rather, businesses should assess risks and benefits through lenses focused on sourcing robustness, process agility, and improving overall resiliency.
Members of the NEMA Industrial Products and Systems Division make technologies that help other manufacturers create more adaptable businesses. In our next issue, we turn our eyes to 2025 and explore how NEMA and its Members will enable the next generation of manufacturing. The goal is to not simply get by, but to find the opportunities and means to thrive. Success in the future will likely belong to businesses that balance robustness, agility, and resilience by applying the technologies and processes that harness the potential of these attributes. ei
Kevin J. Cosgriff
NEMA President and CEO