They are everywhere. Or at least their footprints.
I wake up Saturday morning looking at my alarm clock. The plastic case, the magnet in the speaker, the glass face – were all bulk solids once. The very fact that the power is on reminds me that coal is burning somewhere and the ash is being handled; the power is coming through copper that was likely mined at a site in Chile. And most likely, one of our engineers in Chile assisted that mine site. And one of our engineers helped with the coal handling – was this Dave’s, Jayant’s or Brian’s project? Another engineer helped with the plastic – Jairo? Brian? Ok, enough – that is just the alarm clock!
Getting out of bed, I see the countertop in the bathroom – I know how the particles were blended and the specs that had to be met – that was a project in California. The soap to wash my face – we tested that on site to get the flow properties while fresh. The gypsum wallboard – that was Eric’s project. The paint additives – Greg’s. Behind the walls, fiberglass insulation – I know how they made that.
I can’t get past breakfast without thinking about the bran, flour, and sugar silos that held the raw materials for my cereal – John and I worked on those decades ago. I know how they keep the cereal from segregating. My coffee beans look great – no broken or defective beans – thanks to Eric.
I mow my lawn. The steel in the tractor – David might have worked on that. The fertilizer did its job, evenly as it should, thanks to Tom. The nice thick grass clogs my bagger, but I recall how Eric taught me that I should squeeze – not shake – the bag to get the clippings out. Works every time. A bottled water to quench my thirst – yep bulk solids there too – J&J knows how to devolatilize the plastic powder so the water tastes like water and not plastic. I think of Tony, Brian, and John.
Time for burgers on the grill and a beer to relax. The fortified feed for the cows went through chutes designed by Jairo, Dave, and myself. The beer bottle was produced at a plant Roger worked on; he may have had a hand in the grains and hops too. The vitamin water in my son’s hand – I know how uniform the various components are, batch to batch. I survey my house – the color of the roofing granules is uniform thanks again to Roger and Scott, and I know cement in the foundation was from a plant Eric worked on.
I haven’t even left my property, and they are everywhere. All this gives me a headache, but fortunately I know the painkillers I have meet USP criteria for uniformity – I know the plant these came from, and the press feed systems there. Mike helped with that one.
I know I’m not the first one to recognize that bulk solids are accountable for so many products. I see all of our work at J&J, which is really all behind the scenes, in many things that everyone uses every day. I see how each and every employee at J&J has contributed to making these things better – more affordable, more available, with less waste, and of a higher quality. And for that, I’m glad I can’t get away from it all.