Geoff Ashcroft’s wonderful account of his odyssey from the United Kingdom through India and on to the United States illustrates just how different the gear industry is today. We are not a bunch of independent tinkering shops anymore but have become an interconnected community where good ideas can “lap the circuit” in hours.
No longer can “home countries” hide from modern equipment and designs. I am a few years junior to Mr. Ashcroft but clearly remember how eye opening it was to read second hand copies of some of the first “foreign” papers presented at AGMA’s Fall Technical Meeting. Some in our firm fostered active resistance to these heretical ideas; people were actually assigned to “disprove” certain claims. We clandestinely purchased products and subjected them to a full life test in our lab, hoping against hope that we could find a way to keep pursuing the tried and true technology of through hardened gearing.
Today, thanks to Gear Technology and the Internet, technical papers are “peer reviewed” by the entire world. New products are distributed to any market with an interest. Good ideas are quickly adopted. Posers are rapidly exposed. These are very good for the science of gearing and gear manufacturing.
This openness has a harsh side effect too. Mr. Ashcroft wrote of the plant closings and consolidations that uprooted his family several times. Entire communities suffered and some never recovered their vitality. We have to find better ways to handle these disruptions because short of a world wide apocalypse on the scale of a zombie movie there will be more in the future.