As manufacturing changes ingenuity, skill are constant

My first trip to Europe three years ago included a visit to Florence. There have been few experiences in my life as awe-inspiring as seeing this great, historic city, largely unchanged in 600 years. I was privileged to walk the streets, stand in the city’s great piazza and view the renovated statue of Michaelangelo’s David.
By Bob Vavra, Editor November 15, 2007

My first trip to Europe three years ago included a visit to Florence. There have been few experiences in my life as awe-inspiring as seeing this great, historic city, largely unchanged in 600 years. I was privileged to walk the streets, stand in the city’s great piazza and view the renovated statue of Michaelangelo’s David.

One of the great sights was the marble cathedral, stretching to the sky. The steps have been worn away by the shoes of millions of travelers and residents over the years. It occurred to me that this cathedral was built without the benefit of cranes or earth-moving equipment, let alone CAD drawings. It stands, 600 years later, as a monument to ingenuity and skill.

In our obsession with the newest and latest today, we sometimes take for granted even as things change, all we’ve done is updated someone else’s great idea. There was portable music before iPods, there was television before HDTV and there were magazines before the Internet.

Having been at the helm for exactly 5% of PLANT ENGINEERING ’s storied 60-year history, I know I’m not the best person to talk about the history of this particular magazine. I have seen the evolution of how we communicate with each other of 35 years in this business, and I’m sure we communicate faster with each other today. I’m not always sure we do it better.

Emails have replaced a phone call. You can create a virtual network of people without ever leaving your computer screen. You can touch the whole world in the tap of a key %%MDASSML%% and the world can reach out to you. The world is small and flat and incredibly complex all at once.

If you look back at PLANT ENGINEERING ’s history, you see a printed page and pictures and advertising and you realize it was done without the high-tech computer system and digital imaging and lightning-fast printing. There was no Internet to post stories to. They were posted to a bulletin board.

How did they do it? The same way all great achievements in history have been accomplished. It is not the tools they worked with that brought this magazine to life, and helped it grow and prosper and succeed. It was the ingenuity and skill of the people involved.

Today PLANT ENGINEERING is so much more than just a printed monthly magazine. We reach out with Webcasts and Internet polls and blogs. We find new ways to connect to all of our audience, all over the world. From a simple magazine born 60 years ago this month, we have become this network of manufacturers and suppliers and leaders who make the things that make the world better.

There will be new challenges in manufacturing in the coming years. Technology alone will not make things better, or make better things. To do that, we rely on the ingenuity and skill of manufacturers.

Above all, that’s what we honor in this anniversary issue.