October 12, 2022
No political commentary today; just trying to get your attention! Although the headline is “on topic” for me. I am in my 50th year in the gear trade, most of it in custom, low volume manufacturing and heard “How do we fix this?” thousands of times. We put a lot of effort into learning and teaching the “right way” to do things and relatively little effort into developing reliable procedures to correct the errors that inevitably occur anyway. A classic example is the bolt pattern on seal and bearing retainers. Some designers like to use an asymmetrical arrangement to insure that some feature, perhaps an oil feed hole, is properly aligned at assembly. In the pre CNC days, for high production parts this could be reliably produced with a dedicated drill jig. No matter how big a font size you use on a drawing, the “Special Bolt Pattern” note gets overlooked on either the cover or the housing with alarming frequency. I finally came to the conclusion that this type of “fool proofing” was just not worth the risk and went back to symmetrical patterns with features that could be indexed at assembly. Those of you who do a lot of writing probably have words that you routinely misspell. I certainly do and have tried to teach myself clever ways to remember them; English can be a strange language at times. Unfortunately, the dictionary built into word processing programs does not include all the technical terms we frequently need. We had a process engineer once who consistently misspelled the same words; it drove my boss nuts so I tried to instruct him on using spell check. This effort revealed that over the years he had added hundreds of misspelled to his “custom dictionary.” How many of us suffer from repetitive errors because we load erroneous thinking into our heads? Non-conforming material reviews should not be disciplinary meetings. They represent a great opportunity for understanding how things actually transpire on your shop floor and to educate your team on how to avoid trouble in the future. I am not sure we have ever published an article on rework or repair procedures in Gear Technology. Perhaps we need to in the future. As always, your feedback helps us decide what goes into the magazine.