I studied formal graphic design in college. When I joined the AGMA about 10 years ago I was hired to run their website. At that time content was king on websites. Creating a digital newsletter was a natural evolution, but the challenge was that content couldn’t be gathered automatically. The term “gear” is so broad that you couldn’t utilize Boolean search techniques, it had to be done manually, so I started reading everything about the gear industry that I could get my hands on. I was big into analytics and started monitoring the content our members clicked on, which led me to start dropping in more technology articles to gauge their reaction. When the AGMA Board went through a big strategic plan, emerging technology was a natural place to look to the future for the industry. They created the new position, offered it to me – and I jumped at it. It was a huge challenge in the beginning, but after three years I feel that we have established something of benefit for the member companies.
How do you manage to stay plugged into such a vibrant, constantly-changing landscape?
By reading textbooks and university papers on everything from 3D printing and electric drive technology to cybersecurity and ERP software, all as it pertains to the gear industry. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, so I’m able to attend conferences and seminars at MIT as well. We created a plan that included inviting content specialists to lead each of the emerging technology committees. These individuals help guide me in terms of the value of new technologies to gear manufacturers as well as the trends I’m looking to identify that might hold potential for our industry. And that’s an important distinction I’d like to make: something can happen once and it’s very interesting, but when it happens more consistently it could develop into an industry-wide trend. We are looking for trend lines, not trade secrets.
At the same time, how do you stay abreast of the knowledge required to understand it all?
Beyond the excellent resources we’re so lucky to have onboard, I rely on industry leaders in their particular areas of expertise to guide and inform me. I do what I can to “learn the language,” if you will, and the general parameters of their technology, but I’m upfront and sincere in my desire to learn more, and the generosity I’ve encountered is truly gratifying to witness. People generally love talking about their work, and the knowledge they’re willing to share allows us to pass that along to our members.
What channels have you identified as the best means of conveying your findings to AGMA members, and to your wider audience?
Our digital newsletter, which is delivered via email, provides a weekly way to keep our members informed. As I’ve mentioned, the material each issue contains is hand-picked based on reader interest, so we hope they’ll find the content to be well-targeted and succinct. The emerging tech articles are posted on the website. We have enlisted speakers, host webinars, and produce white papers from these committees. We have also taken our members on tours of technology on show floors, like at RAPID in 2019. Now, we are focusing on innovative ways of delivering virtual educational experiences.
Is it challenging to avoid getting carried away about a company, technology, or process that has caught your attention?
My career has been working in associations where the general rule is never to play favorites. I apply the same instinct to emerging technology work. Yes, some of the things that I get to see are so cool, and I have met some really great people. But my role is to inform the membership about these technologies. So, I believe in letting the facts drive the narrative. I get calls from members asking me for recommendations on IIoT solutions; or members looking for information on 3D printers. It is my job to tell them what I know in an unbiased way and let them find the best solution for them. One thing that really helps me stay focused is the active involvement of AGMA members in our work in Emerging Technology. I feel like we’re working together for the benefit of the entire gear manufacturing industry.
Founded in 1916, AGMA is a voluntary association of companies, consultants and academicians with a direct interest in the design, manufacture, and application of gears, couplings and related power transmission components and equipment. It is a member- and market-driven organization, conducting programs and providing services to the gear industry and its customers. AGMA member companies currently number more than 495. They include gear manufacturers from the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as well as gearing interests from more than 30 countries around the world.