Motion System Design

Start your timers. We're going to discuss what for many people is their favorite subject. Yes, I'm going to talk about you, or more precisely what you recently said about Motion System Design.

Most of you, I'm happy to report, say that the information you get from MSD helps you maintain your competitive edge. Some of you — nearly 20% — spend between one and two hours looking at each issue, equipping yourselves with knowledge and improving your problem-solving skills. On average, you spend about a minute studying each page, which is why I'm watching the clock even as we speak.

Of course, it's difficult for someone like me to stay on track, and I have to divert here to tell a story about my 7th and 8th grade math teacher. Mr. Work was as intense a fellow as you'll find this side of the prison system. He's one of the reasons I became an engineer; he got me to love math.

I was in the Cleveland Public School system, at Carl F. Shuler Junior High, when I took Mr. Work's pre-Algebra and Algebra classes. Not only could this guy teach, he knew how to keep a room of teenagers under control. He would rush, like a mad linebacker on a blitz, anyone stupid enough to get caught talking. He usually closed to within the length of a textbook, and then addressed the situation in a voice that carried throughout the second floor. He then “summed up” by announcing that the unplanned incident just wasted one minute of everyone's time. “That's 30 minutes,” he would boom, and then make a noise I can only describe as a hiss.

My point here is that although one or two minutes may not seem like much, with our 60,000 readers, it adds up to between 1,000 and 2,000 hours of engineering time per page. In one issue of MSD, the collective investment of time is almost 60,000 hours or 30 man-years. And according to what you've told us, it's time well spent.

In our September issue, for example, we ran an article on servo couplings. Nearly 60% of you noticed or read it, and about 20,000 of you (34%) learned something new. An article on encoders in the same issue generated a similar response — encoders have to connect somehow — spurring a nearly equal number of you to action.

When it comes to tracking down additional information, most of you (85%) take action by heading straight to the source's website. Thirty-five percent come to our website (for editorial follow-up), while 23% use the phone (to find products).

Another way many of you take action — almost half, in fact — is by referring articles and ads to your colleagues. If we were to count up all the people who share each issue, we'd have a group of more than 225,000 readers.

My timer is telling me to wrap it up, but I need to convey one more number. The number is 20% — those of you who've purchased a product you read about in MSD in the past 12 months. If we do the math, we can say that in 2006, 12,000 of you did business with our technology partners, the companies who recognize your importance and invest in us so we can provide you with this targeted educational resource.

These companies and the people behind them are the pillars of the industry, investing in your future in more ways than I have time to explain. If I had to rely on anyone for a solution to a rotary or linear motion problem, I would trust them and turn to them first.

Now there are companies out there, pedaling various products, whose practices reflect the selfish, arrogant nature of the characters in command. I can't recommend them. But don't worry, you won't find them here anyway.

Enjoy the issue and take all the time you need.