Getting the information to make an informed purchase decision is where the Buyer’s Guide comes in.
Although we’re still a year away from inaugurating our next president, it seems like we’ve been in the so-called “silly season” forever. One thing we can rest assured of, it will get worse before it’s finished.
It’s my policy not to use this column for my political views; maybe I should, but I doubt it would make much difference. However, I do want to make a connection between our third annual Buyer’s Guide—which you’re reading now—and the election process.
There is an intersection between the democracy represented by our electoral process and the metalworking marketplace. In both cases, we have choices. However, having choices imposes a degree of responsibility.
For example, when we go into the voting booth, the ballot we’re presented is simply a list of candidates. There are no biographies, position statements or resumes attached. It’s the citizen’s responsibility to know something about the people we are choosing. We have to do our research to make an informed decision.
I remember my first trip to mainland China, back in the 1980s. At that time, I was working for a machine tool builder that was selling to China. It’s different now, but back then a machine tool sale occurred between a government official and the vendor.
Our “official” was a lady named Madam Fay. She would purchase capital equipment on behalf of her state bureau because the state had hard currency and shops did not. The state would then allocate the capital equipment to a shop. The equipment seller and end user never met during the purchasing process. Later, once the machine was delivered, the builder was informed where it was to fulfill warranty and training obligations.
I mention this Chinese method as a counterpoint to how we in the U.S. are empowered to make decisions for ourselves. Whether it’s selecting a candidate for political office or purchasing things we need for manufacturing, our free market system is pretty much wide open to anyone and everyone—it’s democratic. With a sufficient budget, there are no restrictions on the technological level that a shop can acquire. There is no bureaucracy doling out technology based on its central plan.
On the other hand, our system does impose a burden on the buyer of capital equipment and manufacturing consumables and all the other stuff a shop needs to operate. As our election process needs an informed voter, our purchasing system demands that the buyer have some degree of knowledge about what is needed for the business and how it will be applied, paid for, and when the return for that investment can be expected. Our purchasing system and electoral process are proactive.
And getting the information to make an informed purchase decision is where the Buyer’s Guide comes in. In it are categories and lists of the choices available to a precision machined parts business to fulfill its needs for the material to keep the company running. We publish this issue in February to help with the annual planning/budgeting process most of you undertake.
However, the magazine issue itself is only a portal. It’s like the ballot in the voting booth; all the Guide does is organize and list potential candidates for you to choose from. The information must come from elsewhere. In our globally connected world, that generally means the Internet. So operationally this issue of Production Machining is designed to guide you to the Web in order to educate yourself about the “candidates” on your purchasing list.
It’s often said freedom isn’t free. I think most of us would prefer the work involved in educating ourselves about the people and products that impact our personal and professional lives to having a Madam Fay knock on the door to announce delivery of the machine she has purchased for you.