“We are seeking ways to re-architect work, the workforce and also the workplace to manage disruption and uncertainty.”
Excerpts of the interview with Mr. Nirmal Singh, Director, Assomac Machines Ltd.:
Challenges to reckon with:
The year 2020 had brought a spate of unprecedented challenges for everyone with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current generation had never seen such a situation when the world has come to a sudden standstill. The situation has indeed hit hard on all types of industries alike, and the wire and cable industry is no exception. While the lockdown period imposed in March, 2020 to combat the coronavirus pandemic had posed a number of challenges for businesses, mainly, it instilled a feeling of uncertainty in the whole of humanity.
The array of various industries had to adapt to the changed conditions, the new way of working and while many industries have been thriving well, some others are still adapting to the different transformations. In the beginning, the wire and cable industry started off on a bumpy road, not exactly knowing how to cope up with no off-take of pending orders, meager technical staff, stringent SOP, COVID affected persons in the staff, amongst other challenges.
“A few trends that will define the future of the wire and cable industry are – the improvement in technology, the way we work, some policy regulations by the government, and of course, cumulatively, this would bring new ideas to the industry players.”
However, as Christmas was approaching, the conditions started brightening-up, as people were quickly recovering, and there was lesser fear in the minds of people. Also, the bright side was that we were approaching towards the end of a tunnel, and the business sentiments were quite encouraging. Now, with regard to the ‘new normal’ conditions, the industry sentiments are quite hopeful. As we had a lot of time at hand to think and assess our business strategies during this forced pause period, we have concluded that there are a few points to keep in mind when trying to understand what 2021 could have in store for the wire and cable industry.
Further, a few trends that will define the future of the wire and cable industry are – the improvement in technology, the way we work, some policy regulations by the government, and of course, cumulatively, this would bring new ideas to the industry players. With the major fallout due to the pandemic likely in the rear-view mirror, the industry is all set to more than compensate for the losses incurred in 2020.
Strategies to strengthen the economy post-COVID:
In particular, the events of 2020 have given us a warning to develop better systems so that our equipment runs trouble-free. Also, visibility is likely to become the most critical capability for the manufacturers in the coming year.
Investments in digital technology
In its simplest form, a digital twin can be defined as the representation or blue print of the physical form of the machines. Now, it could either be a single product or a component and it could also be a production process or even the physical production environment. Using this digital technology, we can virtually create a product, its production and can even enhance or simulate its performance in the real world without having to bend metal or perform any other physical action.
The pandemic situation has indeed given more options to all of us. Although virtual meetings are more in trend, but this cannot replace the personal bonhomie and the warmth of knowing each other to understand the business. But still, it definitely has presented us with an option which is definitely working. This new trend of virtual meetings has created marketing ‘war rooms’, that has brought us closer to the clients and knowing their demands.
Accepting the new work place
The disruption in the industry has increased the need for greater workforce agility. We, the manufacturers seem unlikely to return to all the pre-pandemic work arrangements. We are seeking ways to re-architect work, the workforce and also the workplace to manage disruption and uncertainty. We are planning to develop hybrid model for the production and investing in the latest machines and manufacturing trends.
Fast forward to 2021 – the way ahead:
The way we look forward to the year 2021 should be coupled with positive changes brought in our approach. While we have certainly passed through the troubled and uncertain times largely due to the forced shutdowns in the early months of the pandemic, but the recent trends have shown the growth on getting back in operations and the revival in demand for the products. However, it should be noted that no one can replace the manufacturing base; but at the same time, we have to explore the new trends that we should incorporate in our manufacturing style.
Energy & industrials trends for 2021
We have been keenly observing the industrial trends for 2021 which we are even suggesting to our existing as well as prospective customers. This may be in the form of the sharing of – our data trend collection, use of oil or gas (whichever is cost-efficient) with new equipment, utilities, advantages for renewable energy, protection of environment, and so on. This enables to evaluate the wire sector landscape for the new entrants in the industry and allows for better planning for success and unforeseen challenges.
Whilst it may be a while before we all are physically back together with the same business approach discussions. However as we are in the beginning of 2021, and many COVID-19 vaccines are on the anvil of success, we are approaching towards a more economically successful year but with a new rider i.e. a new normal 2021.
But as the saying goes, ‘if you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards’, and as Martin Luther King Jr said ‘if you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’ This is the way of life and all of us should look forward with this optimistic approach and we further expect 2021 to bring an increased momentum in the economic activities.