An event like last month’s Industrial Fabrics Association International Expo in Nashville, Tenn., is a good way to check the pulse of an industry. And if anything was clear at Expo, it was that textile manufacturers are ready and eager to get back to work.
Exhibitors and attendees at Expo were clearly excited to be there after a year of no face-to-face contact. There was a decided feeling of optimism from exhibitors both large and small. That optimism was tempered somewhat by the reality that many of the attendees and exhibitors face these days; even if they can make the goods, the question of whether they will be able to get them into customers’ hands is unanswered.
Supply chain issues have brought more than a few companies to a standstill, not just in the textile industry, but in consumer electronics, the auto industry, food and many others. If they are unable to get the parts and materials they need, manufacturers can’t make and sell their products.
The reason, of course, is the exorbitant cost of shipping goods across the country or across the world. The cost of shipping containers has risen from three to five times more than they previously cost. On top of that the ports are so backed up because of COVID-19 closures and labor shortages that container ships may sit in the port for weeks or months before they can be moved.
But even when faced with these problems, Expo attendees showed their resilience and determination. For example, we heard from several companies that, faced with supply shortages, were able to find new partners on the Expo show floor that will enable them to continue getting what they need to fill orders.
And that’s the real value and power of an event like IFAI Expo. It’s not just about seeing the latest machines and products on the market; it’s about connecting with peers to find answers to your, and the industry’s, problems.