On a current affairs program I saw on TV recently, there was a story about a retired accountant who was trying to get back into the workforce. He'd had his own practice which he'd sold a few years ago but had discovered retirement didn't suit him. The upshot of it was, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't find work in his profession.
I said to Jay, my wife: "Crikey, if he was a hydraulics engineer he'd get a job tomorrow." She burst out laughing. But I wasn't trying to be funny. I guess it was a location joke: you had to be there.
My father, who was a farmer all his life, used to admire accountants, doctors and attorneys - because as he put it: "All their assets are under their hat." You see, like most farmers, dad was mostly asset rich and cash poor. The majority of his hard-earned was tied up in land, livestock and machinery. Which is why he was always fascinated by people who made a good living predominately from the knowledge they carried around in their head - or "under their hat" so to speak. These professionals are what the late management guru Peter Drucker called "knowledge workers".
But times are changing. Clearly, there's no shortage of accountants in the world. And the way I see it, far too many attorneys as well. The thing about specialized knowledge is, if it's in abundant supply it becomes a commodity and inherently less valuable. This is simply supply-side economics at work, something every unemployed accountant should understand.
According to Fortune Magazine journalist Louis S Richman, one of the biggest changes in the working world over the past two decades has been the increase in power and status of technicians - formerly blue-collar workers, who are now empowered by highly specialized knowledge in conjunction with ever more specialized information technology.
That's us he's talking about. It's a fact that I currently charge $250/hr as a technical consultant. If the job involves getting on a plane and going somewhere, then it's three grand a day. And I've got clients from all over the world in my queue. (This is not an idle boast by the way - I have a point to make.)
But I attract a certain type of client. A maintenance manager who answers to a bean counter can't hire me. Because when his boss realizes he's gotta pay me more than he's earning, he can't justify it to himself. No surprises then, that most of my clients are business owners with significant hydraulic assets - where the man who owns the company, runs the company.
It's important to understand that what I charge has nothing to do with the "going rate" or what a potential client is used to paying. It's largely discretionary, based on the value my specialized knowledge will deliver to a client.
And I'm not alone in positioning myself up there with the more traditional, high-priced professionals such as attorneys and accountants. A friend of mine, a top-notch structural engineer, is currently charging $290/hr and has more work than he can handle. Which is why my hourly rate is currently under review.
Seriously though, the most important point about these examples is they're a real reflection of the increase in power and status of technical people - both engineers and technicians. A trend that's here to stay.
This means two things: the bean counters who are fortunate enough to have jobs are gonna have to get used to paying a lot more for technical expertise. And us technical types are gonna have to get used to demanding and getting more for our increasingly specialized knowledge.
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Maintenance In Action
How to consolidate your hydraulic oil inventory|
How many different types of hydraulic oil are taking up space in your oil store? If there's more than one you're not alone. I often get questions from members who'd like to consolidate their oil inventory but aren't sure how to go about it. This one is typical:
"We have a number of pieces of hydraulic equipment; e.g., bucket trucks, cranes, backhoe, rollback wrecker, dump trucks, scissors lifts, etc. It seems like each piece of hydraulic equipment requires a different hydraulic fluid. I'd like to know the compatibility or interchangeability of the different products before I do irreversible harm. I'm confused by all the different oil we're currently using. For example, Warren R&O, Conoco MV-22, NAPA AW-46, AW-315, etc. Is there a primer on oil; a guide that tells me what goes where?" Bob Bauman
The first step is to decipher all the different abbreviations and numbers to understand what you've got, so you can compare "apples to apples".
This task is complicated by the different standards used. And some abbreviations and numbers used by individual manufacturers aren't standard at all. So looking at Bob's array of oils:
R&O or RO stands for rust and oxidation - oils with improved anti-rust and anti-oxidation properties. The ISO classification for these oils is HL.
AW stands for anti-wear - RO oils with an anti-wear additive package. The ISO classification for these oils is HM.
MV stands for multi-viscosity. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a standard abbreviation. In theory MG (multi-grade), MW (multi-weight) or HVI (high viscosity index) could all be used to mean the same thing. Regardless, these oils contain viscosity index improvers which modify the rate of change in viscosity with temperature. The ISO classification is HR for VI improved RO oils and HV for VI improved AW oils.
Now to the numbers. 22, 46 and 315 refer to the viscosity grade (VG) of the oil. 22 and 46 are ISO standard grades - and refer to the oil's kinematic viscosity in centistokes at 40 degrees Celsius - plus or minus 10 percent. So an ISO VG46 oil has a viscosity of between 41.4 and 50.6 centistokes at 40C. 315 is a now mostly obsolete ASTM viscosity number - 315 SUS at 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly equivalent to ISO 68.
As you can now see, Bob has both RO and AW hydraulic oil in three different viscosity grades - one of which is high VI. On the surface, my hunch would be that a single oil - probably AW-46, could cover his entire fleet. But to confirm this, each piece of hydraulic equipment needs to be assessed individually. The procedure and worksheets for doing this are included in my advanced hydraulic maintenance blueprint.
Once this has been done and the appropriate type and grade oil chosen, the next issue to consider is how to go about changing equipment over to the "standardized" oil. The first thing to understand is you ain't going to get any peace of mind from the oil companies. It's highly unlikely that any oil blender will tell you it's OK to mix their oil with a competitors.
At the very least, you should be doing a thorough oil drain and filter change as part of switching oils. But unless it's practical or possible to drain every part of the system, a small percentage of the original oil will remain and be mixed with the new oil. Assuming both oils are mineral based, this shouldn't present any significant problems.
But before making the switch, it's a good idea to mix one part of the original oil with four parts of the new in a glass jar and shake vigorously. Observe the solution. If nothing abnormal can be observed, the two oils are miscible and it's safe to proceed.
"Thanks for the great work on the two publications, Insider Secrets to Hydraulics and Preventing Hydraulic Failures. I have been in the hydraulics business for the past 20 years and it's very difficult to find any decent material on hydraulic maintenance, troubleshooting and failure analysis. These two books cover it all in easy to understand language... I conduct hydraulic training courses and plan to purchase copies to distribute to my students to share your practical approach to understanding a not so understandable subject."
Paul W. Craven, Certified Fluid Power Specialist
Motion Industries, Inc.
In search of the perfect hydraulic fluid - part 2|
In the July-August 2007 issue of Machinery Lubrication,
I explained why the perfect hydraulic fluid would have a constant viscosity,
regardless of its temperature.
In my column in the March-April 2008 Issue,
I discuss another ideal property of the perfect
hydraulic fluid - which unlike viscosity index, can't be improved with additives.
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About the Author: Brendan Casey has more than 19 years
experience in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of
mobile and industrial hydraulic equipment. For more
information on reducing the operating cost and increasing
the uptime of your hydraulic equipment, visit his
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