By Lloyd Graff
I was talking to a fan of Today’s Machining World who works at the world’s largest airplane builder. After discussing the Dreamliner’s ups and downs, he asked me if I thought machining could get too efficient. “What if x, y and z machining times got so fast you wouldn’t need any machinists,” he asked me. I laughed, but he went on.
“Lloyd, did you know that BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Audi decided that 155 miles per hour was as fast as non-professionals could safely drive on an autobahn, so they jointly decided to make that speed the maximum their cars would run?” he said.
His point about machining is that the builders make a mistake by constantly pushing machining speeds as improvements. He fears that we are losing the balance between machinist and machine.
The whole conversation sounded like a replay of the folk ballad of “John Henry, the steel driving man” who fought the track laying machines to a dead heat.
The engineer from Seattle sees being a welder as the only safe job in metalworking, because it cannot be outsourced to China and speed is limited by the melting temperature of metal.
Questions: Can machines be too efficient? Machinist or welder, who has more job security?
Johnny Cash – Ballad Of John Henry’s Hammer