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Engineering 101

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I am a Boeing trained design draftsman and have 54 years in engineering of which the first 17 were in manual drafting and the next 36 have been in 3D MCAD mostly as a contract engineer. I have sold, trained and supported PC based 3D MCAD, provided design services to both engineering and manufacturing and been part of the implementation of 3D CAD into engineering for the last 31 years as TECH-NET, Inc.

I took a looked at some engineering problems in the current news and thought "What is going wrong"? Engineering is not "Rocket Science".. oops wait, yes it is! Engineering has operated on set standards that were established decades, if not, centuries ago. The goal of all engineering standards is "Murphy Proofing".

Today, it seems like those standards have been tossed into the wind and are being replaced by those that have no engineering experience.

With the introduction of 3D MCAD there seemed to be no need for the draftsman, which I must agree. But there was no transition plan to move the new 3D CAD engineer to take over the documentation responsibilities.

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

I have realized that today there is no "Engineering Documentation" training. I have heard of management even ignoring standards of the past stating "They are only guide lines" and I chuckle at the convoluted PLM and MBE trying to manage the documentation. Most documentation standards are now being made on the fly. Don't believe me? Take a look!

PMI (Product Manufacturing Information) vs AID (Associated Information Document)

Take a look what made these projects fail, hello, Mr. Murphy.


What is standard engineering?

  1. It is relatively easy to understand.

  2. Design functional parts

  3. Create concise, complete and unambiguous documentation

  4. Check the documentation for manufacturability and correctness

  5. Release to document control

  6. Documents are archived and put in an accessible document manager

  7. Pertinent documents are released to manufacturing

  8. Receive and inspect the parts

  9. The parts are released to final assembly

That is it

Note: Documentation includes the 3D Model.

No matter the size of the manufacturing company those are the only steps that make up the engineering process


Let's look at the first headline

Tesla employees say automaker is churning out a
high volume of flawed parts requiring costly rework

On first look you could assume the parts were manufactured incorrectly. That is impossible. One thing manufacturers and companies do is inspect the parts and make sure they match the documentation.

Pre-3D MCAD the drawing was used for two purposes:

  1. Define the part

  2. Inspect the part

Since it could not be badly manufactured parts it can only be poor design. Engineering failed at step 3. I completely define the problem in these three articles.

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

The Death of the Drawing

Educating the New 3D MCAD Engineer

The elimination of the draftsman, the drawing and not preparing the engineer to provide the concise, complete and unambiguous documentation is obviously plaguing the industry


Second Headline

Ford Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles
Because Their Steering Wheels May Fall Off

1.3 million? Again this is due to step 3. Could this happen pre-MCAD? Maybe, but there were engineers, design draftsman, draftsman and checkers with years and years of experience that were reviewing the drawing? Today, engineering management is completely oblivious to the the need to have a thorough check of the design and documentation or they are purposely playing Russian Roulette betting that that things will go okay? The real reason: They are depending on the minimized process defined by PLM and the MBE system to assure the correctness of the design. Hello, Mr. Murphy!

Note: Pre 3D MCAD the drawing was the design!

Can the 3D Model Be Used as the Design Authority?

 Why MBE/MBD/PMI Will FAIL

PMI vs AID


Third Headline

Florida bridge collapse leaves at least 6 people dead

Looks like step 7 was ignored. You cannot short cut any of these steps.

As a young draftsman we were thrown into a group of high experienced draftsman that took us under their wings, helping us do learn our profession. As we grew more experienced we also continued that tradition. Boeing would throw the new engineers into the Drafting Group for a year to learn form, fit and function design, drafting and detailing. Trust me, these kids are not engineers when they graduate from college, they truly have no clue about the engineering process and where they fit.

Do young engineers walk into a room of experience engineers, today? Or do they get put in a cubical in front of the CAD system and told "Get to work"?

Educating the New 3D CAD Engineer

The first thing a young draftsman was told is Murphy's Law.

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".

As we created our drawings and they were checked we would not only gain the knowledge of creating concise, complete and unambiguous documentation but we would increase the knowledge of the design of the product. Soon we would become design draftsman and one consideration of our design was to:

"Murphy Proof It!"

You would make sure it could only be installed one way. I have 53 years of design experience and have over looked this a few times. It is when a customer calls and says "the part doesn't fit". You bring up the CAD files and see that they have installed it backward. Of course, you make it their error. But you know who made the error.


Forth Headline

Boeing 787 being converted to VIP jet
has unusual accident at Moses Lake airfield

The landing gear collapsed?? Really?

Again we have to review the engineering process. The 787 had many new technologies used in the creation of this airplane.

  1. The introduction of a new the Catia 5 3D MCAD system

  2. The introduction of Catia 5 PLM

  3. The introduction MBE

  4. Extensive use of carbon fiber.

  5. Limit use of draftsman

  6. Multiple offsite manufacturing

Now I am sure there were a few more. By the way this was 787 number 11.

Before 3D CAD we would have problems with parts not fitting. In aircraft manufacturing these were handled by Liaison engineers on the assembly line. The would find a problem and do a temporary fix and create a rejection tag defining that fix.

Let me give you an examples.

I was under contract to Gates Learjet in Tucson.

Problem

We got a rejection tag defining a problem with installing a fairlead. This was a phenolic block that would protect the control cable from hitting the clearance holes in the frames.

Fix: An alligator grommet around the hole. Hmm wonder it those planes are still flying, that fix was used until a permanent revision was released. Remember these fixes were to keep the line moving.

I investigated the problem. Remember form, fit and function design, drafting and detailing, investigation and revisions were the job of the draftsman.

The problem was they did not understand the drawing. It was complete and, in my opinion, clear. What was missed here Step 2. I drew up an ADCN (Advance Drawing Change Notice) clearing up the documentation.

Today many large companies have moved to MBE (Model Based Enterprise), this is where the 3D model becomes the authority. This really only affects CNC parts.

Can the 3D Model Be Used as the Design Authority?

Now you have to change the model directly to affect any change adding weeks if not months to do a simple change. It has to go through another complete release cycle. Is there a thorough check to assure the complex history on the model has not changed? Do they completely document the change? There are so many places where this system can go wrong.

How much waste can this create? Is there a system to stop existing incorrect parts from being made? I think not! I wonder how many titanium parts are scrapped.


Tesla just gets a lot of attention, badly designed parts have been a part of engineering from the very beginning. But you would think on a mature assembly line these incorrect parts would have been discovered.

So there you go. Four problems that violated the engineering process. The tighter, simpler and standard the process the less "Rejection Tags" or God forbid "Deaths".

You cannot short cut engineering. But that is what is happening today. Engineering management is not in charge of engineering, drafting used to support engineering management and management trusted the released engineering was correct.

Today, they depend on PLM and the CAD vendor to manage engineering top down. Engineering costs are soaring! Without a good established checking process errors are also soaring. These people do not have the ability to differentiate between relative importance's that are so critical in engineering.

It really is time to review the current engineering process. Now the smaller companies have not moved to the PLM and MBE system. It is very costly to get into and maintain. They are still using the proven standard engineering process, and quite successfully.


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