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8/18/2020 | 2 MINUTE READ

Log on and Learn

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New digital options spring up to fill the void caused by events canceled due to Coronavirus restrictions. And people in manufacturing are logging on.

We’ve been offering free webinars to our audience for more than 10 years now. If you go onto the home page of Plastics Technology magazine (ptonline.com) and hover over Events on the top navigation bar, you select Webinars from the drop-down box and see those that are scheduled for the next month. You’ll even to able to listen to past webinars in our archives, which go back about a year.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve noted a significant spike in our webinar attendance. I myself have taken advantage of some LinkedIn Learning programs over the past several months, some related to my job, some otherwise. We’ve witnessed the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) shift to a virtual ANTEC due to COVID-19. Closer to home, back in June our sister publication Moldmaking Technology held a virtual Amerimold show and conference, called Amerimold Connects, that featured a host of live and prerecorded presentations and an online exhibit area.

And as I write this, our group of sister metalworking publications within our parent company, Gardner Business Media, are working with The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) on a new digital platform called IMTS Spark, as the actual International Manufacturing Technology show scheduled for next month was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

I don’t think virtual events will ever replace the experience trade-show attendees realize from walking through the aisles at a real event, but digital platforms are progressing at such a rapid pace that virtual events—though perhaps born out of necessity—are likely to be considered more closely by organizations that plan events. On IMTS Spark, for instance, there will be webinars, podcasts, self-study curricula, online chat rooms, and lunch-and-learn programs. Exclusive resources on the platform will provide cutting-edge information for the manufacturing technology community and drive transformation with technologies, supply-chain solutions, succession planning, workforce development, and much more, AMT says.

According to AMT, visitors will also encounter topnotch experiences. AMT’s Emerging Technology Center will highlight new developments not yet seen in manufacturing facilities. Coffee chats and happy hours will connect groups and provide solutions and resources for business-related obstacles.

I’m taking advantage of attending digital events because I’m feeling a bit antsy and a little worried that I might be missing something if I don’t. 

In the plastics market, several suppliers who had planned actual open houses switched to digital events because of the pandemic. I checked an online event held by Windmoeller & Hoelscher from its German headquarters in late June, which included both technical presentations and actual, real-time machinery demonstrations of various film extrusion and converting technologies.

I’ve had an office in my home for more than 25 years, so I’m attending these digital events not because I have extra time on my hands. But I’m taking advantage of the opportunity because, like many of you who are less accustomed to combining home and work spaces, I’m feeling a bit antsy and a little worried that I might be missing something if I don’t. I suspect that explains the increase in our webinar attendance as well.

If you leaf though the pages of this magazine, you’ll see some half-page advertisements pointing to webinars we have on the docket this August. Or, once more, you can check out the list on our website. If you’re in the compounding business, I’d like to point you to a webinar we are holding later this month on devolatilization (see p. 56). We also try to keep you informed on our schedule of webinars via emails … hopefully not too aggressively.

My colleagues and I moderate these webinars, and we hope to see you there … in a manner of speaking.