Throughout recorded history and across many cultures, winter has often been associated with misery, sorrow and death. And rightly so. Ever since biblical times, pestilence and plague have taken their heaviest tolls during this season; and for almost as long, Eskom has imposed its harshest load shedding regimes during the winter months when electricity demand is at its highest. What’s more, as any Game of Thrones fan will tell you – whether you want them to or not – winter is coming.
To quote the immortal words of one ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” and I doubt many would disagree that this year, we’re bracing for a one-two punch from COVID-19 and load shedding. This coming winter will certainly be a tough one, but we’ve been through tough times before, and what choice do we have but to keep soldiering on?
In the article on pages 3 through 6, some South African contract electronics manufacturers give us the low-down on what it took to cope with this ‘new normal’ that takes the form of face masks, social distancing, sanitising and, almost inevitably, COVID-19 infections.
I’m not actually a fan of the term ‘social distancing’. If anything, the last year has taught us how to maintain social contact while keeping physically distant. Thanks to Zoom, Microsoft Teams or similar platforms, we’ve been able to meet with each other face-to-face in a virtual environment.
It’s particularly apt that we’ve coped thanks to technologies like these. Once upon a time, in our cavemen (and women) days, the technological advancements of the day were things like the harnessing of fire, the invention of stone, wooden and, later, metal tools. At this moment in time, though, by far the most influential technologies in our lives fall under the umbrella of digitalisation. In the industrial sector, this is described by such terms as Industry 4.0 or 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) – and we need to get with the programme, fast.
From logistics and transportation, from machine makers to printed circuit board producers, all the way down to electronics manufacturers themselves, leveraging digitalisation to its fullest extent is going to be vital to minimising the pain in the shorter term, and maximising the gain in the long run. But that is easier said than done when businesses are doing their best to keep up with all this sudden, drastic change, and to stay afloat in precarious economic conditions.
I’m not a proponent of replacing people with machines, and as the respondents in the aforementioned article pointed out, production lines just can’t run effectively without hands-on human involvement. It goes without saying that the labour unions would also have plenty to say on the matter – which I don’t disagree with necessarily, if only they would take less of a ‘punch employers in the mouth’ stance.
And with that, the show, as the saying goes, must go on. In this handbook you will find a variety of articles covering opinions, practical technical guides and advice, company profiles, and not to forget a selection of equipment, consumables, accessories and tools to keep your production lines up and running, winter be damned.
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