By Vida Novak, Air Technical Industries
This is my “Happy New Year” exclamation for 2020. Years ago, I always thought of this year as being the “future”. Remember Back to the Future Day in 2015? That sure passed quickly. In my mind, however, 2020 was the year in which The Future commenced. And here we are!
I’ll just quickly mention the usual “future” expectations… where are our flying cars and teleportation? Instead, all we got are incredibly sophisticated smartphones. Oh, and we did get the hover board. My personal astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson mentions that we do have flying cars, they’re called helicopters. And other scientists have actually teleported an electron. Well if that’s our criteria, I guess we truly have arrived in the future!
In the manufacturing industry, the advancements are spectacular. AGVs cruise unattended around modern warehouses where workers use fingertip scanners to identify and pick stock, exoskeletons have eliminated strain and heavy lifting and the modern worker whistles along without a safety or ergonomic care in the world… wait a minute. I think I drifted into science fiction there.
We work with a lot of vocational schools in our area to find new workers and it’s always funny to hear the instructors or staff trying to encourage younger people to go into manufacturing careers. They try to woo them with sentiments like, “this isn’t your grandfather’s factory” and “you can eat off the floor” and other such nonsense. I don’t hesitate to tell them that some places might be like that, but in our factory you still get dirty!
In reality, ergonomics are every bit of a concern as they ever were, and growing ever more so. Some modern standards don’t allow an operator to lift more than 35 pounds, meaning they wouldn’t be allowed to carry their own luggage if they went from the airport into their plant. While much of the modern technology we are enjoying has provided great leaps in minimizing worker fatigue and injuries, there are people out there still breaking their backs every single day.
This is what we see every day in working with our customers. We get the second-hand knowledge, straight from the guy whose job is to save the other guy. We are hearing about the awkward positioning, the runaway roll, and the mis-used overhead crane pulling sideways to turn over a casting. We saw the machine that the supervisor has to crawl in to change a tool because nobody else is willing to do it. We got the call when an injury set off an alarm because “now” it became a priority to get the right equipment for the job.
We are thrilled to help solve these challenges, and many others, because we are making the job easier. It’s not just about selling equipment, it’s about improving lives. Welcome to the future!