A lasting memory from my first job as an engineer in an auto assembly plant is standing on hard concrete at six in the morning, vending-machine coffee clutched in hand, listening to someone being yelled at, and hoping that I wasn’t the next in line. Manufacturing is still a tough, gritty business, and global competition drives a constant focus around staying lean.
Raw material costs are generally the largest item in cost-of-goods-sold, and they can fluctuate and wreak havoc with the P&Ls. Supply chains stretch around the world, and an issue with your supplier’s supplier can mean a lack of on-time product for your customer. Similarly, for designers and engineers, the pressure to deliver new products or features to market better, faster, safer, cheaper, and more energy efficient, is constant.
I believe technology can go a long way toward helping people at all levels in manufacturing meet these challenges and grow their profitability. I’ve put together a short list of technologies and solutions that I believe can help the manufacturing industry:
For the toughest manufacturing environments, remote-access technology can protect your critical data and workstation resources. Dell Precision rack workstations with Intel® Xeon® processors can sit safely in the datacenter, or another location, allowing employees to stay productive.
Technology can automate and streamline many tasks, saving resources and triggering alerts so that folks are notified and production schedule changes can be implemented quickly. Business intelligence solutions can highlight changes in profitability so that the right people can make the right decisions at the right time.
Designers want and need to integrate customer and partner insights into new designs. There are new and emerging tools that can help sift through the data and deliver actionable feedback such as Social Media Services, CRM, and Marketing Automation.
Designers also need to, well, design. While designers spend a great deal of time learning and training on applications from Autodesk®, Dassault CATIA, Siemens NXTM, or SolidWorks, the underlying workstation makes a big difference in how fast the application will respond. Dell Precision workstations with Intel® Xeon® processors speed up the design process, even in single-threaded application scenarios, because many engineers are required to mega-task between engineering apps, productivity tools, web surfing, and security updates.
Designers need to test those designs, and virtual testing is much less expensive than building and testing physical prototypes. For heavy workloads, designers are increasingly turning to high performance computing solutions based on Intel® technology.
Competition in manufacturing may not become any lighter, but we can increasingly leverage technology to help solve problems and develop ideas instead of relying on just pure grit. And this means we can perhaps spend less time yelling, more time with our families, and still deliver world-class products to the market.
Ultrabook, Celeron, Celeron Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium, Pentium Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, Xeon Phi, and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the US and/or other countries.
Good job being honest. You are wise to check your conscience.
As the Bard said "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
So, yes you did cross the line, but relax! There's hope.
Here are some easy "copywriter checks" to help you discern your integrity in this matter in future blog posts. Ask yourself;
1. What was your motivation for mentioning a particular brand? Was it internal or external. i.e., Did you receive a check to crank out an endorsement? Or, are you pushing a particular mfg. because you really are a hardcore fanboy (or is it "fangirl"?)
2. Would you still work to mention a particular mfg. even if they weren't buying advertising in your space, because as an engineer you KNOW that their product is superior?
3.Are you including particular mfg. product brands and brand identification (i.e. "Xeon") for engineering clarity, or to conform to their corporate marketing wonk directives? (see #1)
4. Would you come back in six months or a year on a new blog post and promote another competing product with equal fervor if there were a market shift which elevated said competing product? e.g. "When I promoted Super-X's Megatron processor back in January, I had no idea that Acme Industry's Ultrasnark processor was about to be released. It's now clear that the Ultrasnark outperforms the Megatron in five key ways". Or, would you simply remain quiet or ignore the engineering advance? (again, see #1)
5. Are you so convinced it is the best product that you would recommend or install product "X" in a machine upon which your own mother's life depended?
Just some tools to help you show those DN sponsors some tough love. :-)
Kirsten, I am amazed at the proliferation of computer hardware and software specifically designed to facilitate the "blue-collar" engineer and the company he or she works for. My company uses Solid Works and COMSOL for design and testing purposes and remains quite pleased with both. We are launching new software called DART. This is an "MRP"-type software that enhances the order/entry process and provides load-level scheduling for manufacturing companies. You are absolutely correct when you say we need to leverage technology. I feel that is a must in upcoming years for the US to stay on the cutting edge. Good post.
Mostly valid, but why not just advertise Dell and Intel rather than doing a product placement? I like and use both their products, but the article would have more validity if it were reporting on the topic and not trying to advertise a product.
This article reflects a problem with all our "news" reporting. The reporter doesn't seem to know the difference between reporting news and producing an opinion piece.
The next time you're churning through simulation models, manipulating 3D designs in real-time, or rendering a beautiful photo-realistic image, take a moment to think about all the work that goes on behind the scenes and be glad you don't have to worry about it.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.