A World of Change

By Joan Mantini

I must say, after returning from MODEX in Atlanta, I felt like a bit of a rebel to have traveled under the health advisories and warnings of the media. But, before I proceeded in my travels, I kept a watchful eye on the situation—especially as exhibitor and attendee attendance began to decline.

With COVID-19/Coronavirus concerns continuing to be top of mind, the situation indeed created additional stress on MODEX attendees and exhibitors as they prepared for the show. And, although a large number or shows, conferences, meetings and events are being cancelled due to health concerns, the show went on as planned. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a little spin on the show, with perhaps some thought about how human face-to-face interaction may be lessened across the board with a digital approach moving forward.

Prior to the conference, MHI, the producer of MODEX 2020, issued the following statement: “For those of you who cannot attend due to COVID-19, we want to let you know that you can still engage with MODEX exhibitors digitally during the show. You can download the MODEX app to connect with exhibitors during the show. Additionally, we will be posting every show floor seminar held at MODEX as a podcast…”

Could this be the start of a new trend?  “Thinking outside the hall” and delivering the trade show floor in a digital format to attendees could be a viable option.

Walking the trade show floor with this concept in mind and automation the forefront of several exhibits, the future of the factory started taking a new vision. Could this digital approach be the start of more companies adding or increasing robotics and automation to their processes—with the thought of less downtime for employee absence due to illnesses or even injury, for that matter?

Although statistics and updates are changing faster than I can type, at this time it is being reported that the White House and Congressional leaders are considering measures to respond to the economic impact of the outbreak, including paid sick leave, enhanced unemployment insurance and deferring taxes for the industries hardest hit by the virus—primarily hospitality and travel. And the concept of companies increasing the use of robotics and automation, along with digitizing in new areas, could be one solution for the future.

The 2020 MHI Annual Industry Report, developed in collaboration with Deloitte, titled “Embracing the Digital Mindset: Connecting Data, Talent and Technology in Digital Supply Chains,” was also recently released. The report provides new insights into trends and technologies that are having a dramatic business impact on supply chains and the people who run them. The report found that, while the adoption of digital technologies is increasing, firms are struggling to hire skilled workers to run them and extract actionable insights out of the mountains of data that digital supply chains generate.

The lack of qualified skilled workers + increasing employee health concerns globally = a new mindset moving forward for all!