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Editorial

Back to Plan A

By Tom Klemens

March 2013 - In February I relearned a couple good lessons. I’ll identify them later, and I apologize up front for those of you living so far south you can only imagine what I’m talking about. But I think you’ll get the drift.

On Jan. 25, Chicago got its first inch-or-more snowfall of the season. It was only 1.1 in., but that was enough to break a snowless streak of 335 days since the last inch-plus snow, setting a new Chicago record. It also marked the latest date for such a first snowfall in the Midwest since 1884, when official weather records first began.

This year’s first snow, and a similar snowfall about a week later, were just powder and easily dispatched with shovel and broom. Lulled into a false sense of security, I began to think it wasn’t such a bad thing that I postponed the fall ritual of gassing up the snowblower, checking the oil and starting it up just to make sure it was ready to go. It looked like Plan B, procrastination, would work this season.

Our third real snowfall came on Feb. 7, beginning partway through a day that opened with blowing rain. The temperature dropped throughout the day, rain changed to snow and water turned to ice. By the time the evening rush hour arrived, most commuters in town had already departed, and wisely so.

Yet in the morning, there was only about 5 in. of snow to deal with. Another quick shovel job, I thought. Except this time it was heavy, wet snow. The kind that sticks to your shovel and clogs the bristles of your broom. Great for building snowpersons, but lousy for shoveling.

After two long minutes with the shovel, I trudged to the shed and dragged out the old snowblower. I put a little gas in the tank, crossed my fingers and it started right up. Lesson learned, and without too much pain: Make the preparations you know you should, when you should, and it will be a lot less stressful when the thing you were preparing for eventually comes to pass.

But there was to be a corollary lesson as well. About three-quarters of the way through clearing the driveway, the snowblower’s right tire walked itself off its rim. Fortunately, the small tires are pretty manageable with a little brute force, and soon the tire was back on its rim and properly inflated. Second lesson learned: When you notice a tire’s getting low, pump it up. You’ll save time and energy in the end.

When you think about it, those two lessons have application in the manufacturing world of today. Although it has been a long dry spell for many firms, it’s wise to make preparations—and attend to regular maintenance—to ensure you’re ready to go when business picks up.

You can read about companies that are looking to the future and have conscientiously continued to invest in the enterprise through economic downtimes. They appear in the cover article. Need more convincing? Read Bob Pinchot’s Guest Editorial this month. He makes a good case for adopting automation to make sure you get, and stay, ready to go.  FFJ

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Rolleri USA

STEEL

Butech Bliss UFP Industrial

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Red Bud Industries

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Tishken Advanced Gauging Technologies Automec Inc. BLM Group

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys
Mayfran International Cincinnati Inc. SafanDarley

WATERJET

DEBURRING/FINISHING

LVD Strippit

PUNCHING

Barton International
ATI Industrial Automation Scotchman Industries Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
Lissmac Corp. Trilogy Machinery Inc.

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Osborn

METAL FORMING

Behringer Saws Inc. Omax Corp.
SuperMax Tools FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Cosen Saws

WELDING

Timesavers MetalForming Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Beckwood Press Co. Titan Tool Supply Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company
Triform

 

 

 


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