It came as a surprise when Ed Hoffman called to say that he was giving up his column in MMS. Our monthly commentator on workholding for as long as most of us can remember, Ed was himself a fixture in this magazine, and he will be missed. We wish him well.
But then the issue quickly turned to matters of practicality. We take workholding and work handling very seriously here. Indeed, to be credible to the general metalworking community, we feel we must have an authoritative voice on this topic in every issue. But how do you replace a guy with a lifetime's worth of experience building jigs and fixtures?
The answer is, you don't, in part because they just don't make guys like that anymore. You take a fresh look at the topic, and do your best to place it in a context that's in tune with the needs of a new generation of metalworking professionals.
And that's precisely what we've done. With this issue we are pleased to introduce MMS's newest columnist, Stan Seibert, who each month will address a topic related to how shops hold and handle their parts.
One thing you won't hear us do is refer to Stan as a workholding expert. First of all, there are just too many jokes about "experts" to accuse Stan of it. (One of my favorites is Niels Bohr's: "An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.") But more to the point, Stan intends to talk about a whole lot more that just workholding per se, and he rarely takes a narrow view of anything.
That's the context part. While workholding is indeed critical, you can't just look at it in a vacuum. Or put another way, while all the components of a metalworking process are individually important, they may go for naught if just one other component is preventing the process from achieving its potential, all the time. It's not how quickly or precisely you can make one part that matters; it's how many good parts you have at the end of the day.
Stan puts it a little more succinctly. "If you're not making chips, you're not making money," he says. So while Stan's column, Building Better Processes, will focus on how shops hold and handle parts, it will always keep the big picture—the total process—in mind.