Tools of the Trade

What Is Your Favorite Work-Related Technology or Device That’s Essential to Your Job?

Katherine BonfanteBy Katherine Bonfante, Managing Editor, Digital Media

Everyone has his or her tool of the trade. You know, your favorite work-related technology or device that's essential to your job. Mine is the computer. As a digital web editor, I can't live without it and I can't work without it.

For a mechanic, the wrench or the car jack might be his essential tool. For a teacher, teaching without the black board, a piece of chalk or books might be hard, and the doctor won't be able to diagnose correctly without machines such as the CT scanner or the MIR machine. How about you? What is your favorite tool of the trade?

For example, Jeremy Pollard wrote in his column, "Tools to Manage Trouble," that E-CAD systems or management tools are important in any OEM project. While he agrees that sometimes, some OEM projects don't require the use of such systems, the end-user, customer or system integrator should know best when such systems are or are not needed. Management tools are essential to any engineering project. "The OEM community would not even think about engineering a project without management tools," said Pollard. Find out how Pollard and his OEM supplier resolved their control system issue. Log on to to read the article.

Dan Hebert, our senior technical editor, wrote about virtual simulation tools in his article "Virtual Simulation Tools Allow Engineers to Work Together in an Electronic Environment." He talks about how e-design tools improve collaboration in many instances, but face-to-face discussion remains a critical need.

Hebert says that the Internet has created many e-design tools that replace the face-to-face meetings. These cyber tools can be virtual meetings, file-sharing sites, video conferencing, 3D publishing and viewing software. and let's not forget email.

However, Hebert says that despite the ubiquity, low cost and ease-of-use of these new design tools, there are some instances where face-to-face meetings still are required. Read his article at and find out more on what Hebert thinks about virtual simulation tools.

Another article, "Prototyping of the Virtual Type," reveals digital simulation tools that integrate functional areas of design, improve product quality, maximize throughput and reduce time to market. It summarizes the viewpoint of interdisciplinary product design and production teams. Read the full article at

If you have a favorite tool of the trade that you can't live or work without, please tell me about it. Log on to our Machine Builder Forum at, and tell me about the industry tool or device you love so much.