During the holidays I was subjected to the company of a distant relative on my wife's side.
After ten minutes of polite conversation (which felt like an hour) he blurted out:
"Oh, I couldn't do what you do."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You know... working for yourself... running your own business. You have so little security."
Turns out he works for a large corporation.
So I said to him:
"Well I wouldn't trade places with you either, but either way it's kinda irrelevant. Because the only security any of us have - whether we work for a large corporation, a small company or ourselves, is the skills and value we bring to the marketplace."
At that point Jay, my wife, changed the subject and started talking about all the snow we were getting in Vancouver.
Well, he might prefer to talk about the weather, but what I told him is true for all of us, especially in the current economic climate.
Of course, what the marketplace considers valuable changes over time. I've written in this newsletter before about the increase in power and status of technical specialists - a trend which has been continuing for many years.
As Fortune Magazine journalist Louis S Richman puts it: we're former blue-collar workers, who are now empowered by highly specialized knowledge combined with ever more specialized information technology.
And I see more evidence of this all the time. According to a TV report I watched while in Canada, that country needs 15,000 additional auto mechanics. Yep, that's right, 15,000.
And according to a community college lecturer who was interviewed for the program, the reason for the current shortage is not so much that today's young people don't want to swing wrenches. It's because the complexity of the modern automobile has increased to the point where the DIY backyard repair has become almost unviable.
Today's competent auto mechanic is no longer a 'grease monkey'. He's a technical specialist with knowledge of microprocessors, electronics and modern mechanics.
A similar situation exists with modern hydraulic equipment. There's no genius in dumping oil
or changing out components until a problem goes away. Anybody can do that. But the skilled
specialist who can keep a complex hydraulic machine running reliably and lean is much harder
Which is why he is highly valued by the marketplace. Even more so this year than last year. Times have never been better for the skilled hydraulic specialist.
So regardless of where you are on the knowledge curve, keep an eye out for a special
announcement later this month about my all new 'Hydraulics Pro' newsletter.
It's a multi-media, mini-seminar delivered to your door by snail mail every month.
And it will increase the skill and value YOU bring to the marketplace.
The Nice Things People Say …
"The knowledge I've gained from this information has been
so valuable it has earned me a raise!"
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Heavy Equipment Mechanic
A simple piece of advice that could literally save your life|
The week before President Obama was sworn in I saw an article in the Globe and Mail - a Canadian national newspaper with the headline: "Simple checklist saves lives in the operating room".
The article cites a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that the use of a simple operating room checklist developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) reduces post-op death rates by 40 percent and major complications by more than a third.
I didn't find this too surprising. After all, the whole idea of checklists is they remove all margin for error and omission. It's why commercial pilots use them. It's why professional divers use them. And it's why I'm a big advocate of their use when commissioning or re-commissioning hydraulic systems to avoid damaging high-priced components during start-up.
But the next part of the article made my jaw drop: The results of the study were so compelling that the CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute is pushing health ministers in Canada to start using the WHO checklist within three to six months.
Say what? You mean they ain't doing this already?
IMPORTANT note to self: If you ever have to undergo major surgery, make sure the surgeon is using this checklist BEFORE you give consent.
The other beautiful thing about checklists, and something this article was quick to point out, is there's virtually zero expense associated with their adoption and use. Which is why no hospital - or hydraulic equipment user - can use cost as an excuse for not using them.
And in case you're thinking my analogy between surgery and hydraulic component change-outs is a bit tenuous, consider this:
From the WHO checklist (post-op):
"Confirm instrument, sponge and needle counts are correct."
"Did you remove the rag you stuffed into the pump intake line before you connected it to the replacement pump?"
Sure, the consequences are different, but the outcome for the practitioner are similar: embarrassment, guilt, damaged reputation, cost - things we all want to avoid.
If you've ignored my advice on this before, I guess you'll go on ignoring me. But for those of you who 'get' the benefit of this, you'll find a generic checklist in chapter five of Insider Secrets to Hydraulics. But the best ones are machine specific. For guidance on drafting checklists tailored to your own equipment, watch DVD four of my Hydraulic Breakdown Prevention Blueprint.
And above all else remember that while the ability to commit important things to memory is an admirable skill, as the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court found out, it's fraught with danger. So whether you're swearing in a President, changing out a hydraulic component or about to go under the knife, a checklist could save your skin.
On a final note, in response to last month's video simulation on pressure intensification, one of our members asked me to explain the theory involved. So here's a short explanation:
Force produced by a hydraulic cylinder is a product of pressure and area (F = p x A). In a single-rod, double-acting cylinder the effective area and therefore force produced by the piston and rod sides of the cylinder are unequal.
It follows that if the rod side of the cylinder (annulus area) has half the effective area of the piston side, it will produce half the force of the piston side for the same amount of pressure.
The equation F = p x A can be transposed as p = F/A that is, pressure equals force divided by area.
So if the rod side of the cylinder has to resist the force developed by the piston side, with
only half the area, then it needs double the pressure. This means that if the rod-end port
is restricted or plugged and the piston side is pressurized to 3,000 PSI a pressure of
6,000 PSI will be required on the rod side to produce an equal and opposing force.
Watch the video here.
"This book has the potential to save many
organizations lots of money. It should be on the bookshelf of every engineer, supervisor, planner and
technician who deals with hydraulic equipment... it's worth its weight in gold." Find out more
Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
Plant Maintenance Resource Center
How to synchronize hydraulic cylinders|
The problem of synchronizing multiple hydraulic cylinders arises in many applications.
This Instant Knowledge report introduces and explains eight different solutions to this problem. To assist
you in selecting the most suitable solution for your application, each method is considered
according to its level of accuracy, cost and complexity. The methods discussed
are applicable to any number and any type of hydraulic actuator.
Find out more
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the uptime of your hydraulic equipment, visit his
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