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Dealing With Disappointment

Shannon Wetzel

When this issue arrives in readers’ inboxes, it will be right around the time we should be heading to Cleveland for the 2020 Metalcasting Congress.

Working at home instead of walking the show floor or listening to the technology transfer going on during the sessions is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, it has been a season of disappointment for us all. At least we are not alone in that regard. Cancelled vacations, cancelled sports, closed schools, and job and financial loss, has made this past month a test even for the most resilient. 

Yet, one of the most comforting things to watch has been how people and industry have been resourceful.  Manufacturers and foundries have rapidly adapted when they can—in incredible ways (see page 56)—and AFS has worked to support the industry as everyone navigates this period of upheaval. On page 18 in this issue, we share some of the resources the society has compiled for its members to help them now and through recovery. 

Eventually, the pandemic crisis will subside, and life will return to a new normal: stability with some changes. This week I chatted—from a distance—with a neighbor who works as a firefighter for our town. He said some of the ways they have adapted their normal operating procedures when facing the coronavirus likely will become improved standard practice from now on.

The technology futurist Daniel Burrus, quoted on page 20 of this issue, has had this advice for businesses today: “while others may ‘wait and see’ what the future brings for our world post-pandemic, anticipatory leaders are not looking at the long list of things they can no longer do; they are creating a list of things they can do now using the hard trend certainties they have identified to have the confidence and support to create new ways to serve their people and customers.”
The three stories in this issue focused on Foundry 4.0 (pages 24-35) help cover how the metalcasting industry can evolve its operations to take advantage of new technologies while also providing the kind of jobs and working environment that best fit the current and upcoming workforce.

“Foundry 4.0 forces us to think about the future: what are the future demographics that will affect our industry, how will changing transportation trends affect the type of castings we make, what new regulations will need to be considered in our operations, what new energy sources will be incorporated in our business?” said David Weiss, VP of engineering and development, Eck Industries (Manitowoc, Wisconsin). “As the rate of change increases and as advanced technologies become ubiquitous, how can we use those tools to create a profitable, sustainable foundry businesses that can operate far into the future?”

There is no question it has been a difficult period, but it has sparked a burst of ingenuity. I look forward to returning to normal while also seeing how the innovations-by-crisis are rolled into standard business practices. 

I’m also looking forward to the 2021 Metalcasting Congress—it will be a cathartic gathering of the industry, I think. It also coincides with the 125th anniversary of AFS. That’s a celebration to look forward to.    

Click here to read the column in the April 2020 Digital Edition.