A new year, fresh start

Jan. 1, 2010
The saddest kind of call I receive as an editor is from office managers and administrative assistants who phone to ask that persons be removed from our

The saddest kind of call I receive as an editor is from office managers and administrative assistants who phone to ask that persons be removed from our mailing list. This year, about 25 of these calls came — more than ever before. During the calls, I always ask why the appeal is being made. The inevitable answer: This person doesn't work with us anymore. Though it's tempting to continue the line of questioning, it's here that manners dictate that it ends.

We can only assume that the worldwide economic downturn and continued migration of manufacturing overseas are to blame. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of mechanical engineering jobs plummeted from 300,000 to 245,000 in 2009 — titles that make up a healthy portion of Motion System Design's circulation. Electrical and software engineering posts fared marginally better. I highly recommend a visit to the Bureau's website at bls.gov; it is a fascinating and disturbing treasure trove of data on things called “mass layoff events” and “new unemployment decreases.” Indeed, we have entered into a period of U.S. history marked by no small measure of disruption and large-scale social shifts.

In any case, as we ourselves put last year behind us, the Motion System Design staff sends you warm wishes for a happy new year. With any luck, 2010 will prove the year for both individual progress and solid recovery for manufacturing as a whole.

To contribute in our own way to this advancement, Motion System Design has added a new series for 2010 called State of the Art. Find the first installment on page 22 of this issue. In this ongoing series, my esteemed colleague Frances Richards will present you with information on what is regarded as the latest and most effective technologies used in motion systems.

Another new series, Motion Scenarios, will focus on one unique motion function each month: Conveying, articulating, and indexing are just a few of the topics we'll cover this year. Originally the brainchild of Motion System Design's Larry Berardinis, this series of articles aims to detail the physics and engineering challenges of several motion-task subtypes, as well as the most common design approaches and parts for addressing the Scenario at hand. I've put together the first installment on gripping; you can read that feature starting on page 12.

A good number of you responded to our September 2009 Reader Survey indicating that our more basic MSD 101 and Brushing Up articles are actually of help for job functions outside of your core engineering areas of expertise. For this reason, we'll continue with these classics in 2010. We will also continue our popular Design by Objective and Greengineering series. The latter will showcase approaches and products specifically developed to reduce waste and increase machine efficiency. With the new NEMA motor efficiency guidelines and other regulatory changes on the way in the U.S., we'll all have our hands full keeping up with these developments. That's acceptable: After all, we may one day recognize that there is no greater cause for engineering than sustainability — and no greater promise for the resurgence of American manufacturing than green technology.

Online, we continue to improve motionsystemdesign.com; we also invite you to follow and become a fan of the magazine at twitter.com/MotionSysDesign and facebook.com/motionsystemdesign. If you'd like to receive our popular Motion Monitor newsletter, please visit motionsystemdesign.com/eNewsletter to sign up. The conversations among readers about manufacturing and policies that affect industry are some of the most intelligent and thought provoking around. For those of you now reading from digital-edition.motionsystemdesign.com or looking to begin the next chapter of your career, take a peek at our publishing group's designengineerjobzone.com.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. Our door is always open: If you're interested in seeing coverage of a technical topic or motion technology in 2010, call or email us.

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