The New Way Forward
Jim King 03.19.2021
As I look back a little over one year ago, my last international flight to Japan was in February of 2020. We thought that Coronavirus (that is what we called it in the beginning) would be like the flu and we’d be back to normal in a few months.
Then all hell broke out. It got worse and shelter-in-place orders came from Governors in every state. Furloughs, budget freezes, layoffs and work from home became commonplace. Survival was our focus.
Fast forward to today, and employees have figured out how to be productive from home, many have returned from furlough, and companies are once again thinking about growth.
Manufacturing is Waking Up
Looking into the future many economists are bullish on the U.S. and global economies. As the vaccine is getting into the arms of the population, manufacturing is waking up from an unwelcome hibernation. As people begin to get out of the house, go back to the office and even plan vacations, many of the sectors hit hard by the economy will start their rebound. Our expectation is that several industries will come back strong over the next 18 months and return to slightly better than 2019 business levels.
Shop Optimization is Not Optional
Last fall I had the opportunity to be the Opening Keynote Speaker at the NTMA’s Engage 2020 virtual conference. At that time there was no known timeline for the vaccine to be ready, and we still were in the dark regarding where the pandemic would take us. My presentation focused on how machine shops should be taking action to streamline their processes, so they’d be poised to take advantage of coming opportunities in the marketplace. I cautioned that this process of shop optimization would not be optional for most shops – it would become inevitable. Now, in the spring of 2021, with vaccinations ramping up, the time for hunkering down in survival mode is over.
“The New Way Forward”
I’ve never been a fan of the phrases “getting back to normal” or “the new normal.” I don’t believe in looking backwards, and these terms are not forward-looking and intentional, which is exactly where our mindset must be. We need to be developing new and innovative ways of doing things that will take us forward. For manufacturers, finding our “New Way Forward” is where we need to place our focus right now.
The time for hunkering down in survival mode is over. For manufacturers, finding our “New Way Forward” is where we need to place our focus right now.
The Time is Now
What does this mean for business leaders at the shop level? It’s time to shift gears, out of the reactive mode of simply surviving to taking action and charting the course of our destinies. Start making this pivot and go forward with positive intention to make a difference. As I’ve said many times, manufacturing can lead this recovery.
You Can’t Delay Any Longer
This leads us to ask, “how”? Companies need to focus on developing a plan for their manufacturing facilities. Determine where are you in the journey of developing an efficient, automated and data-driven business. As each company competes for revenue, you need to find ways to become more efficient. This can be accomplished with lean processes, automation and better data. In my presentation last fall I outlined 4 Simple Steps shops can take to elevate to the next level. Now, it’s go time. If you haven’t started yet, you simply can’t delay any longer.
Learn about the 4 Simple Steps, what to do with your “fat rabbits”, and more:
A Moment of Great Opportunity for Manufacturers (Part 1)
A Moment of Great Opportunity for Manufacturers (Part 2)
The resurgence of manufacturing begins with what takes place within each of your shops. It will sweep across our industry. The key is, to make sure we’re all prepared to make the most of it. This is Job #1 for me, and for you.
About Jim King
Jim King is President and COO, Okuma America Corporation.
Connect with Jim on LinkedIn.