October 12, 2022
I recently got a phone call with questions about a drawing from 1981. The caller saw “Schultz” in the signature block and thought it was me. Flattering but, in this case, not true. There have been others with that surname in the gear trade, but thanks to Internet search engines the calls and e-mails will find me; well, they will as long as “gears” are in the search term. Another guy with a similar last name dominates general searches for any of the 600-plus Charles Schultzes currently on the loose in the world. Surprisingly, I knew the Schultz who made that 1971 drawing and was familiar enough with the equipment that was used to assist the inquirer in finding a possible vendor for spare parts. What a sad commentary on the loss of brand recognition that customers must resort to such lengths to maintain their process lines. Capital equipment often remains in service far longer than the original design specifications required. Who would have expected a catalog gearbox to still be working for a living 46-years after it was installed? You may be growing weary of my harping on the importance of writing and publishing to the gear trade. Even within our companies the lack of respect for project records, test reports, and drawings is appalling. No one lives forever and at some point in the future the information contained in those archives may be extremely helpful. As I told a client recently, it is much cheaper to learn from other people’s mistakes. That conversation was in the context of a class of machinery in constant development for over thirty years. The specification did not change; neither did the design concept or general appearance. But materials, heat treat, geometry modifications, and operating clearances certainly did. Dozens of engineers participated in that development process and none of them ever published a single article on it. The young people currently responsible for it are forced to guess at what motivated some of the revisions. Don’t do that to your company’s products. Write things down before you forget!