Hope creates room for possibilities

We cannot control everything, but we have hope.


Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant EngineeringAt a certain point in our lives, we awake to find there is far more life behind us than ahead of us. Peering through the mist of time, it's harder to see our achievements, and yet somehow our bungled changes and bad breaks stand out. It's no easier when we look forward either, because those moments have yet to be created. They are equally hazy. Worse yet, we can't see the end. And so here we are, caught between the haze of the past and the fog of the future.

At the end of each year, the tendency is to look back and see what we've achieved, and what opportunities we've missed. Perhaps it's good to take stock of those moments. We need a way to account for our failures, but also to celebrate those moments of grace and kindness, of achievement and excellence.

I'm always amused by the human animal's propensity to fixate on failure. We have vast news cycles and a network of real and pseudo thinkers all telling us what's wrong with our world, and how if we'd just listen to them, we can fix it. We get overwhelmed by failure and uncertainty and confusion and conflict. Yet there is so much that was good this past year, so many moments that lifted our spirits and raised our hope.

Hope. The most powerful emotion a human can possess, in my view, is hope.

Hope creates room for possibilities. Love is impossible, achievement is impossible, success is impossible without the hope that things will improve. Hope solves nothing by itself. It requires you to turn hope into action, to turn action into achievement, and achievement into sustained success.

Hope is not wishing, as in "I hope things will get better." Hope is an emotion we control, as in "I have hope things will get better." We possess hope; it does not possess us. And as we stand in that fog between a lengthening past and a finite future, it is hope that propels us forward. Hope requires us to act, but it also gives purpose to our actions, and defines out attitude as we act. It is the counterbalance to the negative events of our lives, especially those not of our own making.

Scarlett O'Hara was driven by every other emotion a human can concoct-greed, lust, fear, sorrow. At the very end, all she had was hope. At the end of "Gone With The Wind" she concludes, "Tomorrow is another day."

When we review our year in manufacturing, we see all that has been achieved-growth and prosperity for the sixth straight year. We should not be deterred by those who want more growth and more prosperity. We have achieved a great deal in 2014.

I know this because I spent time talking with a lot of people in 2014 in all areas of manufacturing. They all told me roughly the same thing: "We're concerned about health care and government and global economic-but we've never been busier." They have put aside the distractions and the things they cannot control, and they have focused on their core business: their employees, their market, their customers. And they succeeded.

We highlight two such companies in the 2014 Top Plant award winners. One is a small coffee company from Ontario which grew its business by a factor of 15 in 2014 without losing its core values or its productivity. The other is a manufacturing of pipes and piping systems which attached a deficiency in safety and has now achieved recognition from OSHSA for its safety practices.These companies and others like it didn't hope for improvement. They had hope. They turned that hope into action.

As we all step forward into 2015 and into the years beyond, we have the choice of spending our time pondering at a past we can neither change nor control, or turning forward and facing our challenges with hope and confidence and resolve. We have the technology, the clear understanding of what we can achieve. We know the path to success. We've seen it work, and we are encouraged by others who also have made it work. We believe in ourselves, our people and our plan. It's all right there in front of us. We cannot control everything, but we have hope.

- Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant Engineering, bvavra@cfemedia.com

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me