Even during a pandemic, plant teams are optimistic about PdM work

April 21, 2020
Thomas Wilk explores the changing significance of white gloves and blue skies.

A few weeks back, when the Plant Services editorial team was reviewing possible cover designs for this issue, one option jumped out as the front-runner. The concept needed to reflect results from our 2020 PdM-RxM survey, and one concept in particular had all the right elements: an industrial background positioned against a bright blue sky, with a white-gloved hand in the foreground holding a wrench.

From the Editor

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

Our thinking in these initial meetings was that the white-gloved hand would represent the top-quality service that plants can get when partnering with OEMs and/or expert consultants to develop their proactive maintenance programs. The blue sky would represent the growing satisfaction of plant teams with their PdM programs, and would add some “sky’s the limit” attitude.

It’s striking how all of that can still be true, and yet, we’re all looking at things now through the lens of quarantines and sheltering in place. Now, the gloved hand represents PPE in the age of COVID-19. And the blue sky? It brings to mind that many global cities are reporting dramatically improved air quality, due to reduced emissions from planes, trains, and (yes) automobiles.

In fact, two of my favorite before-and-after images are of Los Angeles and Delhi. According to The Guardian, people in Punjab recently “woke up to an incredible sight in the distance: the Dhauladhar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. The peaks, which are over 120 miles away, had not been sighted on the Punjab horizon for almost 30 years.” And a friend of mine in Los Angeles shared a screenshot of Google Maps during rush hour, with all highways in LA showing bright green.

Of course, the downside of this situation is the state of disruption that business and industry are currently trying to navigate. Even as early as February and March, 53.1% of manufacturers surveyed by the National Association of Manufacturers were anticipating a change in operations due to COVID-19.

We’ve heard first-hand about plants that are reconfiguring their production lines to ensure a six-foot distance between operators at all times. It’s been fascinating to follow both large corporations and Maker teams, as each rises to the occasion to help manufacture PPE and other medical equipment to meet demand. We’ve heard the dogs barking in the background on conference calls, as many people adapt to working from home.

And we’ve heard from everyone that they hope everything eases back into normality before too long. We do too. In that sense then, results from this year’s PdM-RxM survey represent a snapshot of normality, a final window into pre-coronavirus industry in North America.

The survey was open in February and March, as COVID-19 was having its strong impact on the United States. You can be sure that we will keep reporting on what is coming next.

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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