Trend Talks: Tim Byrd

Today’s rapid-fire information superhighways mean the brightest ideas come through the fastest.

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I never thought a career in technical writing would put me in contact with so many different cultures. Every week, I speak to people on the other side of the planet about the principles and practices that have brought them to success in the gear industry. Whether it’s a family business or not, they speak about their employee base like blood relatives. “Our employees are like family,” is a phrase I hear regularly. This kind of mutual respect crosses language barriers, and I consider it a privilege to broaden my worldview each month through the telescope of this magazine.

Gear companies always wear as a badge of honor their international achievements. “Global,” “internationally-known,” and “worldwide” are all terms many successful gear companies use in describing their business. With a product as specific as a gear, this doesn’t just relate to the bottom line, or even to the final product. It refers to ideas as well. These companies’ ideas are being disseminated everywhere and bred with greater ideas. But for some smaller, homegrown machine shops, the idea of operating on an international level can be daunting. Fortunately, the global gear community is more connected now than ever, and those involved can learn lessons on growing their product and expanding their business through their international colleagues without ever leaving the country.

It’s easier than ever in the gear industry to be involved on an international level. Going to the AGMA Gear Expo in Indianapolis is perhaps the best example of how global the gear industry has become. Gear companies from all over the world come together to exchange ideas and make a better gear for their customer. Attendees meet and network with thousands of professionals from around the world to understand the newest expertise on the market and examine industry trends. Gear buyers and manufacturers from every continent come together to develop the business connections that profit their businesses. It’s a worldwide scientific community that is learning each other’s language everyday and it’s amazing to watch.

I spoke recently to a professor who said, “The gear essentially cannot get any more efficient. It’s as close to perfect as we can get it.” And yet, month after month, metallurgists are developing innovative new ideas for gear production. In this issue alone, we’ve got articles about the strengths of different steels in making gears, a revolutionary new precision-grinding technique for grinding process, and CNC-generated topological profiles for the manufacture of gears. It proves a simple point: People will always want to improve upon their processes.

It’s not difficult to understand why. The best ideas come from a mixture of cultures, producing a great product. Different products, ideas, education systems, cultural emphases—these things come together to make a better product, and the gear industry is no different. As travel and communication advance, we’re able to share these things with an audience everywhere.

The AGMA Fall Technical Meeting (FTM) is another great example of the global connection within the gear industry. Speakers from the U.S., Sweden, Japan, the UK, and more present their findings to a room full of industry experts. The FTM is an excellent occasion for gear manufacturers to receive the latest research in the field, as well as network with colleagues and learn about latest methods and cutting-edge technologies in use in the gearing industry today.

I spoke with Gordon New, founder of Ronson Gears, for February’s company profile. One significant thing he said was that his business really grew once they started traveling abroad. “Through travel, I saw what progressive companies in the United States and Europe were doing at the time, and what sort of equipment they were using. When our team returned from the first ‘discovery’ trip, we started buying new equipment.”

It’s a trend that makes sense. The global connection of information and trade is nothing but good news for the gear industry. Functioning as an island will only take you so far—eventually, new ideas have to be infused. That’s where the global market comes in. These needs go beyond the domestic committees and now take AGMA into a global outreach to serve both domestic and international members. Gear companies recognizing the global marketplace make the decision to operate multiple companies beneath one banner. “Globally competitive market” is a phrase used to describe the gear industry by many companies in their description. Companies established more than a century ago have evolved into global entities known for their engineering, manufacturing, and testing expertise.

As members of the gear community, I hope you are as excited about the evolution of the global gear industry as we are. With persistence, willpower, and innovation, the possibilities in this industry are endless. Gear Solutions is at the forefront of disseminating this knowledge, making companies better capable of competing globally. We all need to be speaking the same language.