6 years ago


Distributor's Link Magazine Summer Issue 2012 / VOL 35 / NO.3


112 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK THE BAD USE (ABUSE) OF METRIC continued from page 8 The US tourist industry brings in a lot of money to our country and employs thousands of people. It would expand even more if visitors from other countries (thinking metric) had references to temperatures, distances and speed limits that made sense to them. We made a very lame effort some years back to actually have highway signs posted in kilometers (km) instead of miles and speed limits in km/h (kilometers per hour) instead of MPH. It largely failed due to cost, but was, and still is, a “shovel ready” project. If started again today it would pull many people from the unemployment lines. When we Americans travel overseas, we can more easily function as visitors and tourists because the metric designations are so simple. The US auto industry was ready in the 1970’s for a quick and complete change-over to metric. They would probably save some money by making instrumentations easier, like speeds only in km/h instead of dual with MPH. Also ready to go was the US fastener industry where a plan for a 10-year change-over was deemed realistic. But, the resistance and unwillingness to change became soon evident and we went back (more or less) to follow our old, worn tracks. I don’t think anyone realistically doubt that the United States will be joining the metric world. The problem we have is that the longer we procrastinate, the more expensive it will be to make up for lost time and business opportunities. On the other hand, by waiting we will have more time to make many more costly mistakes, if we consider that as a positive factor. A decisive action from our elected leaders in Washington DC could make the conversion process quick, economical and with limited headaches. Mandating weather reports in degree Celsius (°C) instead of Fahrenheit, wind speeds in m/s (meter per second) instead of MPH, snow depths and rainfall in mm (millimeter) instead of inches should make us comfortable with metric terms because it would be right in our faces on a daily basis. The food industry has already advanced on this issue and can also give us a comfortable feel for the kilogram (kg) and the liter (L). We already get soft drinks in 2 liter bottles without getting bent out of shape. Now to the unfortunate ABUSE of metric In our feeble attempts to “do metric” we often invent units and pronunciations that are completely out of sync with SI. If we can learn how to use SI units correctly and get rid of the many confusing examples of “home-made” metric, our lives in the metric lane will be a lot safer and smoother. The following areas should cover most of the units (good and bad) that apply to our work in engineering and in our daily lives. Length/distance The SI unit is meter, m. Avoid the French spelling, metre. We normally use millimeter (mm) in technical drawings. For very small measurements like plating thickness, surface roughness, etc. the micrometer (μm) is practical. The term “micron” is sometimes erroneously used to indicate μm, but is a no-good term today. Longer distances are measured in kilometers (km). But, if someone invites you to run a 10K race, don’t show up. K means kelvin, SI base unit for temperature. At a temperature of 10 K, which is the same as -263.15°C or -441.67°F you are already frozen solid before the start of the race. Please, don’t abuse kelvin. Some other bad examples are MM instead of mm for millimeter. MM means mega mega or million million and does not make any sense (only for candy). NEVER use Km (and meaning km) as we often see on route displays in airplanes, or Kg that some load sensors have as markings for the same reason as above. The kilometer is pronounced with the accent on “i” and not on the “o” as most uneducated reporters say it. If you say kilo and then meter and just put them together like you just said it, it will be correctly pronounced. Area The meter being the base, we can use mm 2 , m 2 , km 2 or whatever would suit conversion of in 2 , ft 2 , acre and so on. Temperature The kelvin unit, K, is the SI base unit, but should only be used in scientific contexts. Degree Celsius (°C) is the SI additional unit replacing Fahrenheit (°F). The Celsius scale is based on water either freezing at 0°C or boiling at 100°C. The Fahrenheit scale is pure nonsense in my opinion. Don’t use centigrade instead of Celsius, this was an old term used by pharmacists a long time ago. A couple of easy reference points: -40 is the same in °C and °F (much too cold either way), +10 °C equals 50°F, +16°C = 61°F and “room temperature” +20°C is 68°F. Force N or newton (low case always) replaced all old “metric” terms like kilogram force and kilopond. It is a relatively small unit, 1 pound force (lbf) is approximately 4.5N (4.4482 exactly). For practical purposes we normally use a prefix like k for kN (thousand newtons) or M for MN (million newtons), etc. Mass (weight) One kg (kilogram) equals 2.2046 lb (pound). Don’t use kilo to indicate kilogram, kilo is a prefix simply meaning 1000. The Europeans, who should know better by now, are very sloppy with this, let’s try to be better (shall we). Why we use lb (libra from Latin) and oz (onza from Latin) I simply don’t know. Do you please turn to page 122

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 113 Maria Garcia, National Sales Manager for Rivet & Eyelet Technologies, announced a corporate sponsorship for the 2012 season with JP Racing of New Hampshire. The #97 Rivet & Eyelet Ford Fusion piloted by NASCAR driver Joey Polewarczyk Jr. will compete in the American-Canadian Tour. Rivet & Eyelet is a domestic and international source of stamped and extruded blind rivets, setting tools, and custom engineered eyelet products. For more information, contact: Tel: 1-800-853-7011, Fax: 978-851-4488, Email: or at *** EFC International, is pleased to announce Ted Loucks has been named Chief Operating Officer. Ted has been with EFC since 2009 and has served as Director of Information Technology, and as Director of Technical Operations. In his new role, Ted will oversee the general operations of the company outside of Sales & Marketing. For more information contact EFC International by Tel: 314-434-2888 or visit online at Elgin Fastener Group has announced several new divisional personnel appointments. Among these are: * Tena Heller, new Controller at Ohio Rod Products. * Shawn Halcomb, Quoting Specialist/Customer Service Rep for Chandler Products and Quality Bolt & Screw. * Brian Lamoureaux, Plant Manager at Leland Powell Fasteners and Landreth Fastener. * Todd Thomas, Quality Supervisor at Quality Bolt & Screw. Named to new assignments within the EFG corporate structure are: * Joe Johannigman, ERP Manager. * Frank Pushpak, Product Development Manager for Diesel Engines/Transmissions. * Mike McAlindon, Continuous Improvement Director. Elgin Fastener Group, based in Versailles, Indiana, is comprised of six leading domestic fastener manufacturers (Ohio Rod Products, Leland Powell Fasteners, Chandler Products, Silo Fasteners, Landreth Fastener, Quality Screw & Bolt) offering a complete range of special, semi-standard, and custom fasteners in a wide variety of styles, sizes, materials, and finishes; a metal finishing company (Best Metal Finishing); and an engineering and international procurement division (Elgin Fasteners International). All of the EFG companies are ISO certified. Elgin Fastener Group is a portfolio company of Audax Group. Contact Elgin Fastener Group. Tel: 812-689-8917, Fax: 812-689-1825, email:, or visit them on the internet at:


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