“The transition to a proactive stance foretells an aware and alert industry, one able to face and resolve the issues hindering it.”

George D. Miller

Editorial Director

What do listeria, e-commerce and used-fab sales have in common?

Besides the fact that each is the subject of a page 1 news report in this edition, each is a harbinger of springtime in the contamination control field.

In this case, “springtime” means that blossoming, burgeoning period of showy activity that precedes the seasons of steady greening, growing and producing.

This is not to say that there`s anything all that new about listeria and used-fab sales (though we can make the case for e-commerce). But then again spring isn`t really about “new” any more than “new” car models are. Likewise, baby chicks — a perpetual symbol of spring — can be said to be new, but the cycle of life that produces them is far from it. Come to think of it, even e-commerce, a term being bandied about even more than “paradigm shift” was in its not-so-long-ago heyday, is, at its core, simply about the exchange of money for goods — a very old concept.

Springtime is more about rebirth and new forms, and therein lies the match with the contamination control industry. With listeria, the “new form” is HACCP, the hard-to-pronounce government acronym for a food inspection program. Some critics fear that the program is being used to replace regulations rather than enhance them, at a time when occurrences of food contamination seem to be on the rise. Regarding used-fab sales, it`s about the “rebirth” of equipment and facilities that may no longer be leading edge, but for which demand still exists and the lead times for new equipment are unacceptably long. And for e-commerce — currently the showiest of these harbingers — the pack-and-ship nature of many contamination-control products is poised to buoy this business`s dealings.

But at another level, the listeria/HACCP issue shifts emphasis to the prevention of contamination rather than the correction of it, some might argue to a proactive stance from a reactive one. It`s a worthy “rebirth” goal, most would agree, but perhaps less so when achieved at the expense of the touch, sight and smell of experts. Nonetheless, when well thought out and executed, the transition to a proactive stance foretells an aware and alert industry, one able to face and resolve the issues hindering it. Likewise, the efficiency and sophistication with which non-leading-edge equipment is used and reused, suggesting every last drop of capability will be utilized, makes a powerful statement about the way processes and equipment are valued, implying strength and depth in demand. And when that equipment and other products are readily snapped into a new sales medium — e-commerce — the implication is that no stone is left unturned.

So take heart at the signs of spring around you. They are full of promise.


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