I did a presentation a few months ago and the sponsor asked me to turn it into an article for their industry journal – which I was only too glad to do! Once submitted, it was subjected to peer review – a common practice – and one I never give too much thought. I’ve done it lots of times – and I guess it was bound to happen – this time it went sideways…
Every Review Committee Needs a Cynic
One of the reviewers submitted the following comment:
“His company deals in temperature control technology, so he needs to show that everyone needs to control temperature in order to be able to apply coating systems, and that for UV systems it is somewhat more critical to control temperature because the dilution effect of monomers is not as dramatic as with solvent-borne systems.”
Now in the interest of full disclosure, (though if you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware) our primary business is point-of-application temperature and viscosity control for fluid dispensing operations. So, yes, it is in my best interest to point out how temperature and viscosity variation negatively affects the coating process. But as it turns out, the fact that this is even more pronounced for UV cure coatings is exactly the reason I was asked to present our work in this area in the first place – and the reason I was subsequently asked to write this paper. You can imagine my surprise to learn that this is also the reason that the paper may not be acceptable!
Living on the Converse
And no, I don’t mean basketball shoes…
It is true that our business is built on this premise. But we didn’t start the business and then set out to prove that everyone in the coating industry needs to control temperature to control their process. In fact, quite the contrary! As coaters struggled with the issues created by variations in viscosity caused by fluctuations in temperature from morning-to-night, day-to-day, and season-to-season, they set about searching for a way to alleviate the problem – and our business was born! Twenty-five years later, these same issues – made more prevalent by these new, advanced coating technologies – are driving our business to new heights!
Sharing is Suspect
This reviewer obviously knows their stuff – they immediately picked up on the key point in both the presentation and the paper – and that’s probably how they got in the position of auditing this material in the first place. Where the cynic comes into play is in the notion that there is something sinister in our willingness to share this information openly with their constituency. I can see their point. There is a lot of supporting data there, and we spent considerable time and money to gather and process it. The cynic says there must be a hidden agenda there somewhere…
Transparency is Disarming
But in fact, there is nothing “hidden” about it!
It is a long held axiom that knowledge is only useful when shared – and it is one of the basic underpinnings of our business – but it runs deeper than that. I woke up one morning to find that my daughter was a college professor – the consummate example of sharing hard earned knowledge – with minimal expectation of return!
The willingness to share something you’ve worked hard to get is often met with skepticism. And the explanation, “When we share what we know we both benefit” – though totally clear – sometimes only serves to heighten the anxiety.
And yet, over-and-over we find it’s true.
So we continue to do studies, and give talks, and publish articles, and host webinars – all for the simple reason that we believe that when someone gains an understanding of why we look at things differently, they will too…
And that’s good for us! And we make no bones about it!
A Strange Business Model?
So I guess I can understand where the reviewer for this article is coming from. Perhaps we do have a strange business model after all. And perhaps that does open the door for the cynics that we encounter to doubt out intent – even though we make every attempt to be absolutely clear about it from the outset!
Maybe that’s why only those at the top of their industries, with specific improvement objectives in mind, take the time to download and read our papers, watch our videos, and contact us to discuss their applications. Maybe we’d have a larger audience if we had a more traditional, “sneak-one-over-on-them” approach.
And maybe, for the first time in fifteen years, I’ll get a paper rejected.
But I can live with that.
It’s for all the right reasons.