“The only constant in life is change”
Despite the cliché, this quote from antiquity is more true today than it was then. And its meaning impacts more than just philosophy or relationships.
As the next part of my series of posts on the evolution of the manufacturing industry, I want to explain a topic that I’ve been forming for the past few years: Change understanding.
The second industrial wave was ushered in by the Ford Motor Company and its assembly line. Ever since then, manufacturing engineers have worked hard to continuously tighten processes and make them more predictable — all in the name of making them more efficient and reliable.
Using methods like Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Model-based systems engineering and establishing frameworks like Six Sigma, manufacturing engineers have been hard at work structuring, rigidizing, and making processes repeatable for decades.
In the 90s, robotics and other automation, such as automated optical inspection (AOI), brought more automation and control over manufacturing processes. However, many of these systems take immense amount of programming and setup to mimic (and often exceed) human precision. Behind these precise systems are still humans writing G-code and manually running big simulation jobs and exporting them to machines.
With all of this tightening and focus on control, the humans in the process — design engineers, technicians, manufacturing engineers, inventory managers — all fall into the grips of the “controlling system,” with the goal of achieving high predictability and, hopefully, quality. Do you want it to work? Well, then you had better fill out this form exactly right and send an email to the configuration management specialist using the subject line format shown in Section 2.1a of the factory manual ([CONFIGURATION CHANGE] Request to change PN 123–001 to PN 123–002).
Fortunately, the fourth industrial revolution is here, and the world is moving faster than ever. Unfortunately, however, manufacturing is still using many of the same tools and paradigms as previous decades. One of the cornerstones of these methods, as alluded to previously…