You're right about losing those experienced engineers. A lot of them were cut during the 2008 through 2009 recession. I understand that many of the experienced plant engineers are baby boomers who have retired over the past few years. I remember in 2007, there was concern in the automation industry that there were not a sufficient number of experienced engineers, but the recession took that pressure off.
This seems a classic example of the value of having experienced people take a look at operations once in a while. A person who knows the process will have built up a "feel" for how things should run, and will often be able to spot when something isn't quite right -0 even when it is "within spec". Following up on such observations often discovers a problem that will eventually become a bigger problem. Nipping it in the bud prevents later losses that may include production loss due to work stoppages, equipment damage, etc. etc.
Alas, modern "lean" production systems are trying hard to eliminate those experienced people, who are perceived as too expensive, or discourage them from "gilding the lily" by trying to fine tune a process that is already within spec.
These trade-offs are subtle, but over time they make the difference between a "good" company and a "cheap" company.
And this principle applies not only to manufacturing, but to all sorts of other endeavors. My own field is embedded software engineering, where I increasingly see schlock completely clogging up the systems.
In the last couple of weeks, I have been immersed in a reference design package for a new microprocessor that my company will be adopting. Even though it comes from a large semiconductor house with a good reputation, it is full of stuff that looks like it was never reviewed. Many corners of the design have timing that is out of spec. The memory map is contorted. Elements of the software kit came from 3 different sources that were never reconciled, so the same registers are defined 3 different ways in different include files etc etc. It scares me to think that this stuff will end up in safety critical systems in many industries.
The 3D printing revolution seems to have a knack for quickly moving technology ahead by way of collaborative effort and even a little friendly competition -- all of course in the name of scientific advancement.
Advantech has launched a new series of motion-control I/O modules to meet the increased demands that come with more distributed industrial systems that require control of a growing number of axes and devices.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is