2020 was a unique year in many ways for many reasons and for many people. This was true in the manufacturing industries as well as in education, medicine, and entertainment. The trends and the trajectory for manufacturing in the United States have shifted dramatically from what we were expecting a year ago. Many changes were driven by advances in technology but the focus and demands for the technology have been driven by new and unique needs created by the pandemic and government policy, correctly or incorrectly, created as a response to the pandemic. We have seen and will see changes in manufacturing and technology impacted significantly through supply chain, reshoring and plant upgrades caused by shifting resources and strategic necessities progressing as a result of COVID pandemic.
As we continue business operations, Optimation has been actively working on fabrications for manufacturing COVID-19 related medical equipment. This has been a boost in our pride of American manufacturing and its continued comeback over the past few years. Measured, steady, and decisive. This is what we’ve told ourselves at Optimation throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. From the very beginning our team is thinking critically about preventing the spread of COVID-19; all while maintaining business operations vital to our clients and community. We have more than accomplished our primary goal of keeping our teammates and their families safe. There continues to be different perspectives on COVID-19 response and what the best option is when considering all stakeholders and complicated issues. This is a healthy debate and will likely allow us to strike a good balance on decisions moving forward. As an Environmental, Health and Safety professional, I must look at risk from the perspective of what is, or is not, an acceptable level. Optimation is a supplier of industrial fabrication, construction, and engineering services to critical infrastructure such as food production, pharmaceuticals/medical devices, and aerospace/defense.
There are HUGE opportunities for re-shoring and creating American jobs!
This is an ideal time for venture capitalist and entrepreneurs to band together, identify needed items and invest in the factories that will manufacture these items here in the United States.
Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash" width="590" style="width: 590px; float: left; margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px;">It has been an interesting several months of attempting to service our clients under the pandemic related constraints. At Optimation, we have observed many of our clients who have, out of necessity, had to scale back their operations, including things like pursuing needed capital improvements to their manufacturing equipment. One market segment that we participate in, that we have observed struggling with factory shutdowns and limited personnel access is the industry that relies on roll to roll manufacturing methods and machinery to produce their products.
American technology and innovation have always been the envy of the world. Perhaps not since the founding of the nation two and a half centuries ago, when we were cut off from the factory production in Europe and forced to produce our own goods, has there been such motivation and drive to increase our domestic output. In the United States, billions of dollars are spent annually on research and development. For decades Congress has encouraged it and tax law has provided research and development tax credits to companies carrying out this research. The law periodically expires but, independent of who controls the House and Senate, there has always been bi-partisan support to renew the law and the credits continue. Research and development lead to innovation and innovation is a hallmark of American ingenuity. Companies in the United States spent about 500 billion in research last year. One could assume that most of this was eligible for federal tax credits which is in part why companies and like Google, Apple and Amazon often pay such a small amount in income taxes.
You’ve been out of work or working from home for weeks, months? How do we adjust to the “new normal”?
Welcome back, almost. We’ve been living in this strange new world for eight weeks, and we are all anxiously awaiting being able to get back to “normal”, whatever that looks like now. If you’re anything like me, you’ve started to accept this as the new normal. Working from home, not working, doing DIY projects at home you found on Pinterest (or your significant other found on Pinterest), making TikTok’s with your kids, or by yourself (okay maybe that’s just me), baking banana bread, just to name a few of the things that have taken place.
The push to reopen the economy is accelerating. After weeks of social distancing and working from home, many Americans are heading back to work — and many employees and consumers are anxious about their safety. Here’s a few things to keep in mind as we start reopening our businesses and getting back to work, “normal”.
Footshaking. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease; it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said when interviewed by Wall Street Journal.
But don’t celebrate the death of handshakes just yet, warns according to Cara Silletto, president and chief retention officer at Crescendo Strategies. “I believe the handshake is over for 2020, but I have serious doubts that it will be gone for good,” she said. “It’s too deeply ingrained in our culture and behavior as a way to physically connect with one another. Once the current pandemic health threats have diminished, many people will accept handshaking again, but they will need to respect those who choose not to shake hands, and still carry hand sanitizer.”
Have you seen the “footshake”? Need a tutorial? This is something I learned about via TikTok… try it out and let me know how it goes! This may be the new normal, at least for the remainder of this year.
Check this gif out from the 90's (it's rapper duo Kid 'N Play with their famous dance move).
Sweatpants. I'm not saying whether I'm wearing sweatpants these days, but I am finding I prefer a drawstring. While stores say that COVID-19 induced anxiety and dim economic forecasts have caused a steep drop-off in overall fashion sales, sweatpants appear to be an exception — their popularity spiking at a rate that may indicate they are the biggest (and perhaps only) trend in fashion right now.
With restaurants and nonessential stores closed by mandate and most professionals working from home, fashion status symbols have been rendered nearly useless. Consumers have few places to go that require any degree of style or savoir-faire, and in turn have begun dressing for comfort. As much as I love my sweatpants, we must face the inevitable halt to wearing these every day. Be prepared to get out your more formal attire. And possibly try it on prior to your first day back, given the fact of close proximity to the fridge we’ve had the last several weeks… bringing me to my next point.
Diet and Sleep. Start readjusting your sleeping and eating habits NOW. The fridge has been right around the corner, boredom has been frequent, and Netflix shows are addicting. Time to start getting back into the swing of things. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, wake up early, and eat better starting now. Here’s some advice from the Sleep Foundation.
Establishing a routine can facilitate a sense of normalcy even in abnormal times. It’s easier for your mind and body to acclimate to a consistent sleep schedule, which is why health experts have long recommended avoiding major variation in your daily sleep times.
Sleep-specific aspects of your daily schedule should include:
- Wake-Up Time: Set your alarm, bypass the snooze button, and have a fixed time to get every day started.
- Wind-Down Time: This is an important time to relax and get ready for bed. It can involve things like light reading, stretching, and meditating along with preparations for bed like putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth. Given the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s wise to give yourself extra wind-down time each night.
- Bedtime: Pick a consistent time to turn out the lights and try to fall asleep.
In addition to time spent sleeping and getting ready for bed, it can be helpful to incorporate steady routines to provide time cues throughout the day, including:
- Showering and getting dressed even if you aren’t leaving the house.
- Eating meals at the same time each day.
- Blocking off specific time periods for work and exercise.
Other ideas to help keep or regain a normal sleep schedule:
- Reserve your bed for sleeping.
- Spend sometime outside in the daylight.
- Stay active and exercise regularly.
- Practice kindness and foster connection.
- Utilize relaxation techniques.
- Watch what you eat and drink.
Read the full article from the Sleep Foundation here.
Eating and sleeping go hand in hand. In order to sleep well, you have to eat well. Here’s a few tips on eating well, especially during a global pandemic;
- WHEN you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat. Curb eating two to three hours before you plan on hitting the hay. Eating right before bed is like asking your body to multitask, it can take food 6-8 hours to pass through your stomach and small intestine, so eating right before bed keeps your digestive tract up all night. Nighttime cravings versus actual hunger are different things.
- Making healthy dietary choices across the board will benefit your sleep. Try to reach for whole foods and complex sugars all day, not just before bed. If you opt for plant based whole foods, like fruits, legumes and veggies, which are high in fiber and important nutrients throughout your day, your sleep will likely benefit.
- Super sad, but nightcaps are bad news for sustained slumber. Alcohol changes REM, or rapid eye movement, throughout the night. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause a decrease in REM sleep.
Oh, I should add that I'm not sure that my Uncle's recipe for Bacon Wrapped Asparagus counts as a healthy choice, so, please be honest with yourself as you get to eating healthy again.
Help Your Immune System. The COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a heavy toll worldwide—especially on healthcare professionals on the front lines fighting the virus. Taking steps to protect yourself by boosting your immune health are absolutely warranted.
So, how can you improve your immune system? Overall, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms, but sometimes it fails. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system? What if you improve your diet? Take certain vitamins or herbal preparations? Make other lifestyle changes in the hope of producing a near-perfect immune response? Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:
- Don't smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
Personally, I am loading up on the vitamins including Zinc! Zinc, a nutrient found throughout your body, helps your immune system and metabolism function. Zinc is also important to wound healing and your sense of taste and smell. With a varied diet, your body usually gets enough zinc. Food sources of zinc include chicken, red meat and fortified breakfast cereals. I figure that adding a little extra support couldn’t hurt.
Opinions are like… We all have our opinions on what is taking place in our world, but it is important that we respect each other as we continue to move forward. Some individuals will feel more comfortable continuing to work from home or not working at all and that is okay. Others have different beliefs; they do not fear. They want life to go back to normal. This is also okay. Both sides will need to research and acknowledge the potential consequences of their actions and decide what is best for themselves. Just be respectful of each other. And more so than respect, be kind.
In 1492 nearly everyone thought that the world was flat. Ships who ventured too close to the edge of the earth would fall in an abyss to their death or be eaten by large dragon like creatures. Columbus overcame all of that and the earth became round. That truth became foundation for a long time. But fifteen years ago Thomas Freidman published his book The World is Flat. It was the Financial Times Business Book of the Year in 2005 and sold millions of copies. It is because the gospel of global trade. In the book Friedman laid out the basis of offshoring, outsourcing and supply-chaining. Business owners read the book and accepted that the future was a global economy with both essential parts and essential products manufactured in all parts of the world, most dominantly in China. Six months ago, predictions for manufacturing trends during 2020 included more globalism with acceleration of Industry 4.0 technologies to make things faster, smarter and of higher quality. Predictions anticipated the growth of analytics, robotics and additive manufacturing. We couldn’t see, even then, that globalism would soon be dead. The flat world of Friedman would be disrupted even more quickly than the flat world of 1492 was disproved by Columbus.
As we embrace the needed isolation that is aimed at slowing the progression of the coronavirus, many of us are frustrated by the interruption to our business goals and productivity. Our imposed idleness, with the health and well being of our friends and neighbors being our top priority, makes us question what the best use of our time and energy might be in the midst of this storm.
The U.S. manufacturers, skilled tradesmen and engineers are shifting their energy and focus from manufacturing their traditional products and are battling the novel coronavirus nationwide by providing solutions to the lack of ventilators, hand sanitizer, sterilizers, N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages required to fight this threat. They are improvising new methods, tooling and materials to convert factories and keep them humming in the manufacture of these much needed supplies as the coronavirus pandemic threatens one of the biggest disruptions in memory to supply chains, staffing and demand.