It had never happened before.

Smitty, the oddball lead engineer at Hycon Hydraulics was at a loss to explain the loss of power in one of his engines.

Well, it wasn’t ‘his’ engine; though Smitty felt a proprietorial concern th8for all the hydraulic equipment that came into his care. Smitty was an engineer in the hydraulics service and repairs department. He was an odd fellow, whispering and cooing to the motors that came into his care; running his hands over them like a lover, listening to them, even placing his head and hands against them as they ran. Within minutes of doing this he would know exactly what was wrong with the engine and what needed to be done about it.

Hycon Hydraulics have a policy of fully dismantling every machine and carefully measuring and analysing the components as a part of their service. So this is what Smitty did, even though his predictions were always found to be correct. Smitty didn’t care. He loved hydraulic motors. He would have disassembled them anyway, just to be sure he was right.

But for the first time he had encountered a problem he couldn’t understand. A hydraulic motor was generating less power than it should. The difference was miniscule, barely measurable, but Smitty was outraged.

His boss was used to his foibles. ‘It’s just something you have to put logoup with in these geniuses’ he would tell himself. So when Smitty came to him with his power loss concerns the boss nodded sagely and had no idea to do.

The power loss in no way affected the performance of the motor. The amount of energy seeping from the engine was barely enough to light a small Christmas tree bulb. The boss knew no one would care about it. No one, that is, except Smitty. And Smitty wouldn’t let it go.

With guys like Smitty working for you it’s easy to become complacent. And so the boss was now worried that the free-ride he’d enjoyed, with Smitty as his star, was now coming to an end. For the first time ever Smitty had come to him for advice. He was the boss. He had to come up with something.

th2And so he grabbed at the first idea that came to him, ‘Maybe it’s not a hydraulics problem?’ he thought aloud. ‘Maybe the motor has been modified somehow?’ And so he suggested one of the computer technicians go over the disassembled engine with Smitty.

It was to be the boss’s finest (a moment he would dine out on for a long time to come). For something was discovered, something that had no place being in the motor – a microchip recording and transmitting device.

There was no way Smitty could have seen it – he had no idea what he was looking for and it was well hidden. That he knew something was in there at all was incredible! The question now was what to do.

The boss took the device to the Hycon Hydraulics Board. They spoke with the company who had brought the machine to them for servicing; suggesting that – perhaps – one of their competition were spying on them.

The company launched a quiet, but thorough investigation. If their competitors were spying on them they wanted to be damn sure about it before proceeding to the courts.

But what they found astonished everyone. After the motor had left the company, bound for Hyscon Hydraulics, it had been intercepted. Not by the competitors of the company, but by the competitors of Hycon Hydraulics.

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