Reader Forum

Product of the Year Welcome to our annual Product of the Year issue! This issue is special because it showcases 150 of the finest new products from the last year.
By Staff November 1, 2000

Product of the Year

Welcome to our annual Product of the Year issue! This issue is special because it showcases 150 of the finest new products from the last year. It’s also special because you, the reader, get to be a part of the competition. By using the special ballot in this issue, you can vote for the best new product in each of our 15 categories. Your votes determine the winner of our Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Grand Awards. Don’t miss your chance to determine the outcome of this contest. In the process, you will find many handy new ideas for use in your plant. Turn to p 52 and start voting for the best new products of 2000!

Pick the right hammer

I would like to add a word of caution regarding your tip on “Loosening bolts” in the article, “Maintenance Tips & Tricks” (PE, August 2000, File 5550, p 54).

I have successfully used this technique on many occasions, but your illustration shows a claw hammer driving on the punch, which can result in spalling of the hammer work face. Claw hammers, unlike their cousins the peens, frequently have an extremely hard face which can chip or spall when misused, resulting in potential eye injuries.

You must also use some judgement about “hard tapping” as the thread form may be damaged or the fastener fractured by excessive force. The sharp shock is more important than the heavy impact!

I have never seen a claw hammer damaged while driving nails, but I’ve seen several shattered by misuse in a machine shop.-Rick Cottrell, Staff Engineer, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, Kansas City, MO

A good example of poor leadership

The Human Side of Engineering case, “Does bereavement pay apply on vacation?” (PE, July 2000, p 18), provides a good example of poor leadership.

In the story, an employee was on vacation when his brother unexpectedly died. The employee quickly ended his vacation and returned home to attend the funeral. After returning to work, he asked his supervisor to either authorize bereavement pay or credit him three days of vacation. The supervisor didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take action and deferred to the plant engineer for a decision. Realizing this scenario is meant to be fiction, the plant engineer’s decision to deny both requests is a perfect example of the poor “people skills” prevalent in the managerial community.

This manager needs to get out from in front of his computer and meet the people who work for him. He has forgotten that loyalty is a two-way street, and he clearly missed an opportunity to show the workforce how important they are to the company.-Richard Robinson, Air Products Electronics Chemicals, Carlsbad, CA

Missing Mainsaver

Mainsaver/Cayenta’s e-Saver mobile solution was inadvertently left out of the manufacturer’s list in our September cover article on mobile data collecting. We apologize for the omission. Learn more about e-Saver by visiting these web sites: and

Do the wheels have to come loose?

I have a few comments about your Editorial, “The wheels are coming loose” (PE, July 2000, p 12).

I read with interest the problem of workforce job skills. I have three comments.

  1. Anyone who finds himself lacking in reading, writing, math, or language skills has a tremendous resource within his own community. The Laubach Literacy movement has been pairing adult learners with trained tutors for many years. The problem: How will the worker motivate himself to seek this educational opportunity?

  2. You’ve missed Roger Schank’s latest book, Coloring Outside the Lines, in which he states that the best two ways to learn are “one-to-one pairing” and “self-learning.” (You’ll note that these concepts stress work that is not in a group, not in a classroom, and not forced to attend.)

  3. The words “I, to, in, the, you, we, and, of, a, be” make up 25% of all the words on a printed page. The person who can recognize these ten words in print can read 25% of all the words in any English-language book.

    1. Your column generally sets my mind grinding on a rebuttal; I enjoy reading it.-Margo Thornton, Muscatine, IA

      Reply: I’m glad my Editorials set your mind “grinding.” That’s their purpose. I don’t necessarily expect people to agree with me. But if I can just get people thinking, I’ve accomplished my primary goal.-Rick Dunn, Chief Editor, Plant Engineering

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