What Do You Really Need to Know?

I am pretty certain I told this story before, but it is worth repeating in the context of preserving corporate memory. When AGMA first offered ISO rating software back in 1997, I was in the midst of designing a new product line. Everything had been done to maximize ratings in the AGMA system but management was concerned that the growing interest in ISO ratings might leave us at a competitive disadvantage. To prepare for the training session, I had to get the software, figure out how to operate it, and translate my empirical dimensions into a format that would run in the software.

When the class started, I had created enough part models to verify that my design would not be “punished” by anything in the ISO method. This left me free to assist my fellow students.

And they needed lots of assistance. One was completely unfamiliar with the entire concept of “rack offset coefficient” and had to be coached through reading his employer’s own drawings so he could create a math model.

Even worse off were another team of engineers who did not know that their company’s “standard” proprietary tooth form was a transverse system with a partial tooth added to every calculated pinion pitch diameter.

I can laugh about it now, but there was nothing funny about discovering your predecessors had not told you things you absolutely needed to know before dispatching you to an important technical conference.

That old saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” is painfully true. I have, as noted in last week’s blog, devoted a great deal of time to educating the gear community on topics I feel are important. Gear Technology magazine prides itself on publishing the latest technical papers, but we do not want to neglect the “trailing edge” either. Most of the blogs in 2018 have covered fundamental topics.

Engineers would be wise to adopt the trial lawyer’s rule of never asking a witness a question to which they do not already know the answer. You have to understand your products and processes so well that nothing a customer or co-worker asks surprises you.

About Charles D. Schultz 511 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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