Quality Magazine

Editor's Note: The Good Old Days

March 30, 2009


At the risk of sounding 50 years older than I am, it seems that they don’t make cars like they used to. Or at least according to my automotive technician, cars today aren’t what they used to be, and my car specifically.

He says that as car parts are increasingly made from plastic instead of metal, new opportunities for problems can come up. And Murphy’s Law seems to apply here. In my case, what can go wrong, has gone wrong.

I love the car’s gas mileage, allowing me to fill the tank without cringing, but I do have a few requests. Are headlights that light really so much to ask? Or door handles that stay on the door or gear shifters that shift? And let’s not get started on tires. (The automotive technician recently asked me, “Come here often?” And the answer was, unfortunately, yes.)

It appears my vehicle reflects the struggling auto industry as a whole, and it is doing its small part to keep the demand for parts strong. (You’re welcome, Detroit.) But I’m not the only one helping suppliers, as today’s headlines include, “U.S. to Aid Auto Industry With $5 Billion for Suppliers.”

For the most part, though, it seems that nostalgia is often the overriding factor when considering “the way things used to be.” In many cases, it’s a good thing that they don’t make cars the way they used to. Cars, along with planes and trains, have visibly improved. The Model T, as great as it was, did not offer air bags, not to mention cup holders, DVD players or cruise control. Nor did it have a hybrid version.

How do you feel about product life these days? Do you have fond memories of any products you’ve used that worked especially well?

These products are the result of concerted effort on the part of those in the field, and the people behind these parts deserve recognition as well.

Manufacturing attains a high productivity rate each year, increasing by more than 50% in the past decade, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) The Facts About Modern Manufacturing.

And the field of NDT needs more people to do the job. Many sectors of NDT, such as aerospace, actively work with local organizations to recruit students.

As the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) says, there is rapidly growing demand for NDT technicians, engineers, researchers and managers, and plenty of reasons to “Choose NDT,” including a video by that name on its Web site, www.asnt.org.

The bottom line is that those who decide to go into NDT can make the world a safer place. And though the world has been experiencing some scary economic news, at least those in NDT are working to make everyday activities less frightening for all of us.

What made you decide to become involved in NDT? Whatever your reason, a lot of people are better off because of it.

Are you longing for the glory days of parts that lasted longer? Or have things come a long way since you’ve been in the business? Let me know.

In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out with my automotive technician, reminiscing.