Help Wanted July 26, 2021
If you were hiring, you ran an add in the local newspaper. Now you have to go online to a myriad of sites and services. What worked last year doesn’t work this year. We have had the most success with this simple sign but COVID, unemployment benefits and a recovered economy in Florida have rendered it useless. In the two weeks it has been out, we have had one applicant so it is on to plan B, unless you are looking for a job.
A Nickel for Your Thoughts July 21, 2021
You say it is supposed to be “penny” instead of “nickel”. You forgot to factor in inflation. Last week, our plater informed us that they will be discontinuing nickel plating because the cost are too high. The next closest place that does nickel plating is north of Orlando, about 90 miles from our plant and they do not pick up or deliver. Worse, their prices are double what we have been paying. We have tried not to have an interim price increase this year even though we are seeing increases across the board. We will have our annual price adjustment on the September 1 and, unfortunately, it will be a larger increase than normal. If you are planning a purchase, make sure you get your order in before September 1.
Mystery Product July 10, 2021
At 2:30 Friday afternoon, we received some components for a new product we are working on. The process used to be: I would come up with an idea, run it by Darwin, our now retired shop manager, then do a sketch. Darwin would build a prototype from my sketch and we would then test it. It usually required two or three iterations before we had a working prototype. This would take weeks or months depending on the complexity of the design.
Now, I discuss the design with my son Karl who took over for Darwin and the process goes something like this:
Mark: We need to be able to do this and this for the product to work.
Mark: I was thinking that we could do it this way but I am not sure how to make it…
Karl: That won’t work because you can’t do…
Mark: Wait, let me finish. I am not sure how to make it but I think we could do this.
Karl: That won’t work because you can’t do that to that. What if you do this instead.
Mark: No I don’t like that but we could try it this way.
Karl: That creates this problem.
Mark: I don’t understand what you are saying, I think it should work.
Karl: (Using hand gestures) If you do this, that is going to happen.
Mark: Okay, (a little frustrated) I see now. We can’t use that idea unless we rewrite the laws of physics. But we could try to…
Karl: No that won’t work …
Mark: (A little heated) Let me finish. We could try to do this with that.
Karl: (A pause) Are you finished?
Karl: That won’t work because of this and that. We should try to do it this way. Does it really need to be able to do this?
Mark: Yes it does and if we do it that way, it will be a pain in the ass to use and expensive to make.
This goes on for a couple of hours until we are too tired to think straight and agree to take a fresh look Monday morning. On my way home, I remembered something Karl said and I realized we were trying to make it do something it did not need to do. By eliminating that requirement, the design becomes easy with just a few details to work out. Karl got home a half an hour after us and I told him my idea. He did that blank stare he does when he is visualizing the idea. The stare only lasted about 15 seconds instead of the usual one or two minutes. He agreed it was a good idea but you would have to make it do this. I agreed and so on Monday, we will start to build the prototype of what I am confident will be a great new product. I can not tell you how much fun this is.
This is Why July 6, 2021
I have had a love hate relationship with computers since the early 80’s. If you know me, you know that I am pretty easy going. However, I can become violent if a computer does not do what it is supposed to do. I suspect that I am not alone. It may be a sad commentary on our company but I am the IT guy. I am currently in the process of installing new computers for everyone. It is going reasonably well mainly because I left them their old computers to use if they have any problems with the new ones. I still have a couple of kinks to work out but nothing major. And yet I will still pull out what little hair I have left.
In the late 90’s, I built a prototype of a fully enclosed, fully computer controlled reel grinder. We had it at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. There was no interest in it. It was too complex. I then realized that if you can get the mechanical design right, there really isn’t any reason to control it with a computer. I use the example of the cylinder block honing machine used by Ford. There was a honing head and motor for each cylinder. It was pre-positioned very accurately and only had to move in and out of the cylinder. It was very fast as it would do all six or eight cylinders at one time. An on and off button were the only controls.
We put a great deal of effort into getting the basic function of our designs right so that they do not need computer controls. The results speak for themselves. Our grinders are two to four times faster and ten times as precise as our competitors. They are also easy to maintain, repair or rebuild because the key components do not wear out and they have no custom computers which are sensitive to their environment. Dirt and heat are the enemies of computers which is why CNC manufactures require their machines be in a clean, air conditioned space or the warranty is void. Otherwise you will get what you see above, which is why we work so hard at not having computers. I am sure there are plenty of you who, like me, would like to keep our hair.