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And the very devil is in them

December 06, 2013
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Perhaps it’s because that’s where it was finally pounded into his head — or because it has the word “attention” in it — but this editor always assumed the phrase “attention to detail” came out of the military.

Google Search doesn’t seem to agree. Early on, it cites a story about Apple’s Steve Jobs and how one of our most renowned innovators once spent his time on a Sunday afternoon. He was on the telephone obsessing about how the second “o” in the Google logo as it appeared on the Apple iPhone didn’t seem to have “the right yellow gradient,” and how it could be fixed by Monday.

So the idea is a common one: Innovation is about attention to detail. In fact, “innovation” has the last several years become an over-used word, but it is a tricky word too. We maintain most innovation is both incremental and a matter of detail.

The point is often brought home in the pages of Processing magazine. Our goal is to present the latest news about equipment, technology and service solutions that improve productivity in process operations, whether fluid-flow or powder & bulk solids.

It is no secret public-relations people and marketers approach industry-trade publications because they have some news or “something new” they think worthy of editorial coverage. Almost invariably, though, the next thing they do is put you in contact with individuals who have spent years, or an entire career, absorbed in the details of a technology or the intricacies of a business. It is fun, a privilege and a source of continuous learning to encounter these people on conference calls or meet them at trade shows and have them say, in effect, “Let me tell you what I do every work day.”

Processing’s Breakthrough Products awards, highlighted in this December issue, seek to capture something of that. There are, inevitably, enough of the detail specifications the engineers must master. But there is also evidence of individuals absorbed in their work and proud of what they do. And there is the promise of the new.
For example, there is the promise of improved safety with Littelfuse’s industrial-strength ground-fault circuit interrupter. There is the true entrepreneurial spirit of Otek’s Dr. Otto Fest and his loop-powered instrumentation. Pumps have been around almost as long as civilization itself. Yet Netzsch Pumps, Wilden Pumps and BJM Pumps are making significant incremental improvements to their particular pumping technologies. This belief in their own work is general to all those participating in the 2013 Breakthrough Products awards.

In 2014, Processing, Water/Waste Processing and Global Processing magazines and their associated electronic newsletters and websites hope to continue to serve engineering managers, operations professionals and executives in the chemicals, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals and other industries with highly readable feature articles, case studies and guest columns that balance those devilish details with an emerging bigger picture.

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