This is one of a series. We welcome news or editorial content from our readers, and will revise this page each afternoon that we receive input.
by Matthew Jones [ Creston, Iowa]
After being in a finishing facility for about a month now I have noticed one main thing. Change is very difficult. This industry seems to be one of the slower moving industries I've worked with, the communication system has too much structure, if there is a good idea it takes that idea a long time to get to the right people.
People tend to be set in the "we've always done it this way" state of mind, assuming that traditional ways are always correct. Maybe I think this because I like to question everything.
I think another reason that change is difficult is that it takes effort. I haven't been working in industry too long so maybe I'm wrong but, I think the bulk of people who work in this field are in it for the money, not the joy of the environment. Granted, this is no Holiday Inn but you would think that you would go into a career that you enjoy.
I was wondering if anyone else has noticed this and what your comments are -- Matthew Jones
Todd Osmolski [Charlotte Plating, Inc.]
Change in the US plating industry is hampered by several things. First it is hard to change any step in a process as it may have an impact on your product, air, waste water, hazardous waste and recycling quality.This can result in more paperwork and people from customers and government agencies coming in to point out your faults if you don't do it correctly. Secondly with customers going overseas it is sometimes better to run what you have than to invest in capital equipment that may soon be idle.Change is only good if it makes you a profit and grows business.-- Todd Osmolski
Maybe change is legal where you come from . . .
Ted Mooney [finishing.com]
"[Electroplating] is probably one of the most complex unit operations known because of the unusually large number of critical elementary phenomena or process steps which control the overall process."1
Electroplating was also America's very first categorically regulated industry, which threw the industry into a tar pit 30 years ago, which slowed progress to a crawl. A typical example is NJDEP air permit requirements which prohibit changes except via an extremely expensive and time-consuming prior permitting process which effectively forbids experimental runs.
Couple complexity with environmental rules which outlaw trial and error, and the stagnation you see was perhaps the only legal outcome. Imagine if NJDEP ran the pharmacy business -- no medicine could be manufactured for trial, and the medicines of 1970 would be the only medicines there ever could be.
The question is how do we now fix it? The answers include: by surviving any practical way we can until the storms blow over; by bringing new blood (you) into the equation; and by educating the public to give them the option of acting in their own interest rather than getting information solely from government departments whose growth depends upon paranoia mongering --Ted Mooney
Follow Up to The Times they aren't a changin'
Powder Visions, Baudette, MN
Matthew, I have worked in many paint facilities and I have found a considerable number of companies going by the old saying "we've always done it this way". This can be particularly difficult for me when I am usually hired to make necessary changes. Understandably, some changes cost money. Many companies have done it this way for such a long time and now they are expected to spend more money. It is important that company admistration understand the justification why this money must be spent. That will depend upon how well I do my job. What are the pros and cons to the change? I have seen some companies that I would never suggest anyone use, no matter what they charged. Their staff is hugely under paid, the equipment falling apart or non-usable, they can't give accurate estimates, and guess what...it the way they've always done it.
Other companies are on the cutting edge of the coatings market. They want to be educated and you generally will see a top notch product coming from them. Thats where the saying you get what you pay for comes from I guess.
I understand that sometimes, a winning combination works well for a company, and in some instances, you not only need to keep the situation controlled, but the customer demands it. But really, if you pay peanuts...you get monkeys! -- Bob Utech
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