Metals and knowledge is not enough.

Engineers need more than metals and knowledge to benefit the world. There is something else.

In late July, 2013 Rolls-Royce sounded a fanfare. In the previous six months the engineering company had made sales of £7.3billion. That’s nearly £40 million of stuff and services sold per day.

Over the same time you’ll be pleased to hear, the organisation made a profit. This was £840 million, or £4.5 million per day

They were very pleased about these numbers as each was an increase of around 30% compared to the previous half year.

Guide vanes
Guide vanes

The customers seemed to be pleased enough too because they had signed on the dotted line for more stuff and services in the future at a total price of £69 billion.

Now you don’t run that sort of operation with a few guys in a shed out the back and some cash in hand. Such an operating company needs to buy stuff, pay 40 000 staff and pay for continuous research. These costs go up and down with time as does the sales income and they won’t be in phase.

Automatic Welding
Automatic Welding

You will have guessed by now that the extra ingredient needed is – Money. ‘Shed-loads’ of it. Although I haven’t worked it out, it will be more like ‘sports-stadium-loads’ of it.

At around the same time as those numbers were announced, the market had invested in Rolls-Royce some £22.5 billion. Only Big Pharma and Big Oil are in the same UK league intellectually and financially.

Very few enterprises can be successful using only the funds of an individual engineer. Isambard Kingdom Brunel knew all about this when he was building railways and giant steam ships. Brunel University tells how “Indeed he … suffered financially by supporting his ventures with his own money.”

This is a fact for every engineering firm in the capitalist economies: they all need money or capital to operate on the large and economical scale. Hence the name: ‘capitalist economy’. Usually money comes by way of the firm borrowing it from people who expect to get a bit extra back or by generating its own wealth by holding back some of the profits made.

Not all need as much as Rolls-Royce; smaller firms need less.

All this is engineering too. Sir John Rose knew all about that.



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