At the speed of light, the Web accelerates our communication

When PLANT ENGINEERING debuted in 1947, no one this side of Isaac Asimov saw how communications would change our lives. We had the radio and the telephone and some overseas cabling. And there was this new box you could bring into your house that produced a fuzzy picture of Milton Berle.
By Bob Vavra, Editor November 15, 2007

When PLANT ENGINEERING debuted in 1947, no one this side of Isaac Asimov saw how communications would change our lives. We had the radio and the telephone and some overseas cabling. And there was this new box you could bring into your house that produced a fuzzy picture of Milton Berle.

And we had magazines to bring us the compiled works of smart people %%MDASSML%% and a little gossip for good measure. We were pretty content with our communications network, even though we didn’t think of it much as a network.

Today, network is a verb as well as a noun. A world of communication choices accelerates our access to information. Knowledge is now portable, available on hand-held devices or connected via wireless routers to and from computers anywhere on the planet. It is sharable and powerful. Words and pictures and videos are available anywhere, everywhere.

And we have magazines that still bring us the compiled works of smart people. Today, though, the work of PLANT ENGINEERING in particular is no longer a month-to-month process. It is minute-to-minute communications, providing a way for readers to connect with editors, and with each other, as never before.

Engineers and plant managers have connected to each other through PLANT ENGINEERING from the start. This magazine was a forum to share ideas and trade secrets. Our successful Tips & Tricks feature each year was one more way to share those ideas across the country.

Those connections happen online today. PlantEngineering.com combines the latest news, the archives of the last decade of stories in PLANT ENGINEERING magazine and the ability to connect readers, all in a single location. The need for a reliable information source is still as strong as ever. PlantEngineering.com has simply accelerated the process.

Take our October 2007 story, “Making sense of time-current curves.” Readers kicked off a lively discussion about a number of issues surrounding the topic, and the author of the article was able to respond immediately.

In the past, editors would receive the letter, publish it and perhaps get a response from the author to the questions raised. Through Talkback, all those discussions can happen in real time, continuously, creating a communications network among peers. PLANT ENGINEERING magazine has always been that conduit for the exchange of ideas; PlantEngineering.com lets it happen faster.

Much of the knowledge created for the magazine is alsoy regulations, pumps and benchmarking maintenance programs. By 2006, it was troubleshooting ac induction motors, stainless steel welding and our Synthetic Lubrication Guide.

So far in 2007, readers have looked for more information on electrical switchgear, matching the motor to the load and the Changing Role of the Plant Engineer study that appears in this issue.

One topic of constant interest is salaries. Annually, one of the top 10 most accessed stories is PLANT ENGINEERING ‘s Salary Survey. It will be released again in January, and readers should have received the email detailing the questions in this year’s survey.

Despite all of the electronic wizardry available in 2007, though, we have consistently asked people about their affection for PLANT ENGINEERING ‘s print product. That love affair, 60 years in the making remains strong. The Web has given us new tools to communicate with speed and effectiveness to our audience around the world. In the end, though, the foundation it is all built on is this magazine, 60 years old this month.