Welcome to my inaugural column in Industrial Heating. I have long been listed as a contributing editor for IH, and I am happy and privileged to make my columnar debut. Some of you may already know me as the editor of FORGE magazine (a BNP property and sister publication to IH) for the last 15 years and since its inception, or maybe you know me from earlier times spent covering the foundry, welding, industrial gas and heat-treating industries. To those readers who don’t know me, I am pleased to make your acquaintance through this column.
As a college student, I received my degree in metallurgy and later an MBA during my working life. Prior to joining business-to-business publishing, I worked for private industry in metal matrix composites research; for the Cement & Concrete Reference Laboratory of what was then the National Bureau of Standards; in capital equipment manufacturing; and in market research publishing, where I picked up some rudimentary writing skills. For the last 30 years, I have been kicking around various metalworking industries in an editorial capacity, which finally brings me here to Industrial Heating.
To stay relevant, editors must develop powers of observation to inform our readers of current matters in the industries we cover. This may seem an easy task, but a few of the industries and processes I have covered have been around for thousands of years and had not fundamentally changed except for their larger scale and the challenges of commercial production. During my decades as an editor, how-ever, the pace of technological change that affects even the most ancient of processes and the markets they serve has accelerated. And it continues to accelerate.
In the summer/fall of 2006, I received a call from BNP Media about starting a magazine to serve the metal forging industry. There was already a magazine in this market, but the promise of new ways to cover a mature industry prompted a thumbs-up decision to produce the first issue of FORGE in November 2006.
That was the beginning of our marathon run with the forging industry. It was exciting to be privy to the new technologies supporting and advancing the ancient practice of smithing. These technologies included microstructural analysis, advanced and ever-larger presses, sophisticated thermal technologies and treatments, computer modeling of processes and prototypes, amazing process controls, advances in steel alloys and their production, the forging of nonferrous materials, destructive and nondestructive testing for quality, the Internet of Things (IoT), and much more.
We kept our eye on the horizon and saw some troubling clouds in the distance. Foreign competition and practices, some of which included the theft of intellectual property and currency manipulation, un-fairly hampered the ability of North American forges to ply their trade. A technology once referred to as rapid prototyping made advances and is now called additive manufacturing. It has the potential to dis-place forging operations. The trend toward plug-in electric vehicles eroding the market for automotive forgings in powertrain components is not imminent – it is happening now.
Concurrently, changes have occurred within the printing and publishing industry. When I first joined the publishing industry, we used photographic film to produce galleys for proofing. Then came sophisticated word-processing software that changed our production processes completely. Talk in the 1990s of the paperless office have not yet fully materialized, but the advent of digitization and the ability to deliver content in different forms changed the platforms from which we reached our readers. Some still prefer paper and a printed publication, while others prefer digital delivery on their phones, tablets or computers.
Then, two years ago, came COVID and its variants. Among the innumerable effects COVID has had on our society and the world, it accelerated the discussion of the growing preference among our read-ers to receive their content digitally. The result was that FORGE magazine, which might just have been going all digital this year, went all digital in 2020. So, too, did Industrial Heating.
Given these evolving business conditions, and the common digital platform, it eventually made sense to include FORGE’s content into Industrial Heating’s digital editions. Thus, starting with this issue, Industrial Heating will integrate FORGE content into its February, April, June and October editions. Additionally, you can find all of our content all the time on www.forgemag.com, which will remain an active website.
We may be leaping onto a different publishing platform, but we are looking forward to the same wild ride that started in 2006.