Inside CI: Keep Looking Ahead

The past couple of months have been difficult for all of us. In addition to facing the emotional issues surrounding the terrorist attacks and ongoing anthrax scare, many of us have also had to deal with the reality of a recessionary economy. New layoffs are being announced on a regular basis, profit expectations continue to be lowered, and industrial output in September was down for the 12th consecutive month, the longest slide since the end of World War II.

In the middle of all this discouraging news, Ceramic Industry is releasing its second annual Equipment Digest—a comprehensive guide to the equipment used in ceramic manufacturing and to the suppliers that provide that equipment. But who needs this information in the midst of such difficult times?

You do.

Yes, times are difficult, and many companies may not be willing or able to invest in new equipment right now. There is a lot of uncertainty in both the political and economic arenas, and we’re all unsure of what is going to happen next. But if all we see is the present, we may miss out on opportunities that present themselves in the future. We must not be shortsighted. This current situation will not last forever. America will rise above this challenge as it has many other challenges in the past, and those companies that plan ahead will be in a good position to benefit when the economy rebounds.

Maybe you’re not in a position to buy a new, high tech kiln or an automated setting machine today. But what about tomorrow? If the economy turns around in six months, or 12 months, will you be prepared to meet increased demand for your products?

And what about increasing efficiencies? Much of today’s manufacturing and processing equipment offers savings in energy and labor, often paying for itself in a relatively short period of time. As streamlining costs becomes increasingly important, such systems can play an important role in keeping companies profitable.

Quality, too, remains an important issue. As companies expand their markets to offset potential losses in other areas, competition in some areas and regions may become more intense. Being able to offer a higher quality product will give you a competitive edge, especially if you can provide that higher quality in a more efficient manufacturing environment.

It’s easy to get bogged down in today’s problems and challenges. With so many uncertainties looming, it can be difficult—even frightening—to look beyond this moment and evaluate what steps we need to take to continue being profitable in the future. But now may be the best time to make those evaluations. Now, more than ever, we should be taking a step back and making sure that we’re positioned to succeed.

That may mean modifying current equipment, buying new equipment, or simply keeping abreast of technological developments so that you can plan for a future investment. Whichever situation you find yourself in, it’s important that you have the information you need to make an informed decision, and that’s where Ceramic Industry comes in. Through our still evolving Equipment Digest and our other monthly issues, we will continue to bring you information about the means and methods for successful ceramic manufacturing. Together, we will meet the challenges that lie ahead and will be ready when America rebounds. Together, we will help secure the industry’s future.

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