We’ve all had our lives turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s going to continue for at least a little while longer.

Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. As the father of an elementary school student and the husband of a teacher at the same school, it’s been top of mind, because obviously I’m worried about what my wife and daughter going into the building every day will mean. Here in Illinois, we’re in pretty good shape overall, but that doesn’t mean there’s no risk involved.

I’m fortunate enough that I can do my job remotely, so at least we don’t have to worry about that. But I know that’s not an option for people in a lot of industries, and food and beverage production is certainly high up on that list. So a lot of you are, I’m sure, worried about the risks you’ll be running with going to work yourself and a child or multiple children going to school.

What schools and food and beverage plants have in common is that there’s a lot of thinking going on about how they’ve been designed and built in the past, how they should be modified as short-term solutions, and how they should be designed and built in the future. 

To help answer some of those questions for the food industry, our cover story this month digs into what design-build firms are thinking and doing when it comes to future construction plans or modifying existing plans. Food and beverage construction isn’t going to stop, but processors are realizing that they have to account for the possibility of a future pandemic in the planning stages of new construction.

We’ve been adjusting on the fly for the last several months, and we’ve seen shining examples of what has and hasn’t worked across the food and beverage industry. We’ve now reached a point where we have to start thinking about long-term ramifications, and design and construction are a big part of those.

There is a lot to consider and a lot of decisions to be made, and we’re all running on fumes by now as things change every day. But we have to take a step back and think about the long term, because we can’t keep winging it forever.