What is your action plan and how will you implement it?

May 13, 2020
COVID-19 still dominates the news, but Thomas Wilk says it's time to write your own story.

While going through my notes to prepare this month’s Event Roundup feature on MARCON 2020, held in March, it was good to be reminded of how UT-RMC Director Klaus Blache kicked off the conference.

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

During his remarks in the opening session, Blache encouraged everyone at the event to enjoy themselves all week and to be sure to network with peers and attend the learning sessions. Then he added, at the end, we should all “leave with an action plan. All of this is about implementation.”

Blache then got more specific, presenting some highlights of his research into top quartile maintenance and reliability performance, concluding with this: “The best of the best figure it out: What’s the relationship between operations and maintenance?”

Now it’s early May, and the impact of COVID-19 on industry and the wider economy is ongoing. The latest report from the Institute for Supply Management stated that its Purchasing Manager’s Index for manufacturers fell to 41.5% in April, down from March’s reading of 49.5%. Any reading lower than 50% represents contraction, and only 2 of 18 manufacturing divisions measured by the PMI avoided contraction in April (specifically, paper products and food, beverage, and tobacco products).

The feeling in industry currently seems to be a mix of shock, anxiety, and hope. One survey, conducted in April by Eagle Hill consulting, found that 54% of U.S. employees are worried about exposure to COVID-19 at their job. Despite this caution, 71% of respondents think that their employers can bring them back to work safely, and only 17% believe their jobs would be impacted by their test results.

This amazing show of optimism under extreme stress recalls one of my favorite lines from the 1969 Woodstock festival, delivered by Wavy Gravy to explain how many different groups had come together overnight to bring a free breakfast to 400,000 people: “There is always a little bit of heaven in a disaster area!”

Our Big Picture Interview this month is with Mara Hitner of MatterHackers, one of the many organizations that have come together this year to deliver much needed relief in the form of PPE for medical professionals. When the coronavirus crisis hit, she and her company reacted by creating a new online hub that matches excess 3D printer capacity with organizations that need printable product such as face shields.

Also this month, our Energy Expert, Peter Garforth, takes a strategic view of what comes next for industry by posing the question: if COVID-19 is forcing industry to rethink many of its processes, it is possible to align future action plans to also meet the challenge of climate change? It’s a daunting prospect, yet he is optimistic about the possibilities.

Today’s headlines may emphasize the pain of the moment. But you and your teams still get to write your own action plans. Make them count.

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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