Ceramic Industry

INSIDE CI: Soccer in the Rain

October 1, 2008
The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

While standing in a steady rain watching my six-year-old niece’s first-ever soccer game over the weekend, I had an epiphany of sorts. But first, a little background: The game was played at a large soccer complex, so the sizes of the fields went from tiny to enormous, and the ages and experience levels of the players varied a great deal as well.

Everyone was stuck in the same lousy climate, though, and it was interesting to watch how they handled it. The older, typically better-skilled players tended to take the weather in stride. They’d played in the rain before, and they knew that they most certainly would again. They slipped and even fell a bit, but they didn’t seem overly bothered by it all. The younger players, like those on my niece’s team, were an altogether different story. First of all, they were mystified that they were even allowed to play outside in the rain. They were as unsure of the environment as they were of the game (which is to say, very). To call them disorganized does not do justice to the term. It was a free-for-all.

So, round about halftime, it occurred to me that the whole playing-soccer-in-the-rain scenario closely resembled today’s ceramic industry landscape. The climate was awful, everyone was operating under less-than-ideal conditions, and how they dealt with the difficulties depended largely on how much experience and patience they either had or lacked.

Our editorial in the October issue features many forward-looking technologies to help manufacturers weather the current storm. For example, as semiconductor and aeronautical designs are beginning to increase in size, technology has been developed that enables industrial sapphire plates and windows to be created from 15-in. sapphire crystals (see “Window of Opportunity” ).

Sustainability is increasingly important in today’s society, and industry efforts to increase environmental responsibility are becoming more widespread. Glass offers a variety of sustainability opportunities for both consumers and the manufacturing sector. In his new Glass Works column, debuting in this issue, Glass Packaging Institute President Joe Cattaneo will highlight the many benefits that glass can provide. His first installment, “The Ultimate in Sustainable Packaging,” can be found in this issue.

Companies that use aluminum oxide in their processes might benefit from a recycling program that eliminates the costs and hassles inherent when dealing with landfills. A process has been developed that enables spent aluminum oxide grit to be processed and used as an ingredient in the manufacture of pure aluminum oxide. “Recycling Spent Aluminum Oxide” details the 100% closed-loop solution.

The most important realization that resulted from my Saturday afternoon at the soccer fields was that none of the players quit, despite the fact that they were soaking wet, muddy and on a struggling team. They listened to their coaches, smiled and waved to their supporters, and played their hearts out. And really, that’s the most we can ask of anyone.