Several years ago, the conference management team at Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) started planning the 100th annual Expo event. People asked, “You mean the 100th anniversary of the organization?” “No,” I clarified. “The organization is older than the show, and we didn’t host Expo during certain war years.” As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic grew, 2020 began to feel like a time of war, and I suspected it would interrupt Expo’s 100th anniversary.
War has a way of altering the business world, manufacturing operations and, yes, daily life. The novel coronavirus is proving to hold similarities to war. The safest solution during this pandemic is to host a virtual event, so IFAI staff, industry experts and exhibitors have come together to offer a new Expo experience this year. Via IFAI Virtual Expo 2020, we are striving to offer a bridge of connection to information, human expertise and products—all of which are essential to sustaining and growing your business.
In fact, the textile industry is an essential provider of PPE products in this ongoing battle against COVID-19. Numerous suppliers and end product manufacturers have made the pivot to producing face masks, medical linens, outdoor tenting options for public uses and clear shields for social distancing. Innovations are in great evidence also as virus-fighting yarns, textiles and coatings are being developed. These innovations and supporting equipment will be showcased at this year’s Expo.
Take a look at pages 25-31 in this issue to preview the Expo education. The Advanced Textiles (AT) Conference, as always, will explore relevant topics on cutting-edge product development. Aside from industry and campfire educational presentations, Virtual Expo 2020 will also offer online exhibitor visits, product and equipment demonstrations, and networking opportunities. We recommend you treat the virtual Expo like a live event and make the most of sourcing your business needs—just as so many of you have treated the “remote” aspects of work, school and personal relationships.
Our industry is finding ways to move forward during this pandemic, and IFAI is finding ways to help you pivot and prosper.