Monday, February 7, 2011

Things are complicated

I have a "friend" on facebook called Chip. Chip's actually a guy I played in band with in high school, but who I haven't seen in decades, so he doesn't really qualify as a friend anymore, except in the facebook sense. Anyway, Chip runs a manufacturing company founded by his father that makes machines that have to do with making pipes. They make machines that make fintubes, whatever those are. (I get a vision of the offspring of a pipe bred with a 50s Cadillac, but I'm sure that's not right.) They also make equipment for fusing polyethylene pipe. As near as I can tell, they don't make polyethylene pipe or machines for making polyethylene pipe (unless fintubes are also polyethylene pipes), just the machines for fusing them. They seem to employ 100 or more people based on the company group photo on their website.

So what's the point? Chip's company strikes me as an outstanding example of how damn complicated our world is. Here's this company, employing dozens of people focusing on a really narrow portion of our industrial process: making machines to fuse pipes. There are pipes everywhere, of course, and fusing them is really important, if you don't want them to leak, but pipes are just devises to move fluids about. They're kind of dull. The really complicated stuff happens before or after the fluid goes into the pipe. Pipes aren't really central to anything people do with fluids, they're just a good way to get fluids from one place to another. Yet one small part of the process involved in creating these rather pedestrian devices is important enough to support a small industry. (I assume that Chip's company has competitors in the fusion machine and fintube-making machine markets.)

Multiple that by all of the other steps in the process of making pipes and you come to the the realization that the humble pipe implies a incomprehensibly complicated industrial infrastructure. I don't even want to think about the machines doing complicated things to the fluids at the end of the pipes.

I don't really have anywhere to go with this, except to say that it boggles my mind, and that anyone who claims to understand our economy is either lying or deluded.


Mike Looney said...

Is this him by any chance?

The Scrub said...

You know how old I am. The date that company was founded is on the website. I noted that the his company was founded by his father. Do the math and answer your own question.

Mike Looney said...

That does mean that even in Tulsa there is at least two finned pipe companies.