June 7, 2016
What a pleasant surprise this week to get a request for information on training rookie gear machine operators! It is easy to get caught up in the negativity generated by the oil price downturn and forget that there are start-up companies in non-software sectors. Some of these firms are located far away from traditional gear making cities. When they invest in a piece of gear making equipment to support their unique products they want to understand it fully rather than just load and unload workpieces. Fortunately there is more support available today than in previous times. The American Gear Manufacturers’ Association (AGMA) web site (www.agma.org) has three online courses aimed at entry-level shop associates that can be accessed almost instantly. A few more clicks will provide details on the hands-on machine operator school that is held twice a year in Chicago. As of this writing spots are still open for the September class. Those of us fortunate enough to “grow up” in the gear trade are prone to take the complexity of the machines for granted. One of my duties towards the end of my apprenticeship was conducting tours for various groups of non-customers. In any gathering there would be at least one or two people just fascinated by the transformation of grimy pieces of metal into shiny machine parts. Imagine dropping those tourists into a shop, pointing them at a recently installed hobber or shaper, and expecting them to produce good parts within hours. There is no “app for that,” but in our computer-driven world a shortcut is expected for everything. Some things are worth investing time in; I tend to think that gear making is one of them if your product depends on them. Besides the AGMA courses and school noted above, many machine builders and equipment dealers will upon request assist in the training of operators on the specific machines they will run every day. As always, Gear Technology will be there to answer questions through its articles and archives. Our advertisers and authors are ready to share their knowledge and help you get the most out of your investment.