This issue focuses on the future of machining because thinking about the future helps us deal with the present. The present moment, however, may not be the best time to read this page. It's intended as a final comment to be read after the rest of the issue. So I hope you'll come back in the near future.
Why think about the future? The main reason is to get a better idea of what to do today. The key words here are do and today. So ultimately, the thrust of our look at the future of machining is twofold. 1. It is about action—making decisions; making things happen. 2. It is about the present—taking action here and now; getting started.
I'm not advocating sudden or rash behavior. There has to be a plan and a goal. None of the predictions made in this issue are likely to shock or startle anyone, so it should be clear that raising awareness, not causing a revolt, is our intention. Making you think, however, is not all that we intended—hence this call to action.
Instead of predictions, perhaps we should have used the word "projections." For the most part, we have been looking down the tracks to see how the switches seem to be set. It's up to you to judge whether or not you are headed to the right station. Making that judgment and adjusting accordingly are not trivial issues. The consequences of action or inaction have to be considered carefully.
This raises another reason for thinking about tomorrow. It is to get a better idea of the difference today's actions will make. Readers who are company leaders, for example, might recognize that their current obsession with lean manufacturing can be a trap when it distracts a company from broader strategic objectives. Likewise, other readers might see that new skills will be required in the years ahead. Not seeking the necessary training now will put them at a disadvantage.
Although we made specific predictions, we have been much less direct about making specific recommendations. By giving some thought to what we predict, the implications will be clear enough. So take heed. Act, but act wisely.
Perhaps the best advice to give is simply to be confident and optimistic. These attitudes create their own light, a light that only shines when aimed ahead. Optimism and confidence provide the clearest illumination for visualizing a positive future. They brighten the mind. The brightest minds make the best plans and take the boldest actions.
If you apply just one new idea derived from this issue or take one step you might otherwise have put off or neglected, the future will never be the same.