A series of major fairs is about to start, and new ideas abound everywhere from the IAA to IT or technology fairs. In the past, design-to-cost was the main issue. Under given framework conditions, engineers had to develop and construct new products while keeping costs as low as possible. They had to adhere to the maxim: “Construct your product in such a way that, while respecting the existing conditions, you do not exceed the target costs.”
Looking for the latest trend
Now, everyone is looking for a new trend, a new “key driver” for the next product revolution. What might that be? Perhaps an answer to the question of how to efficiently get relevant information from the available mass of data? Of how to use fewer resources by making smaller products which offer (at least) a comparable range of functions? Or of how to keep carbon emissions as low as possible during the production or use of certain products (for example electric cars)? Weiterlesen
On 21 June 2013, the German newspaper Handelsblatt ran an article with the title “Die Waffe aus dem Hobbyraum” (“Home-Made Weapons”) on potential uses of 3D printers. The title referred to the notorious “Liberator”, a pistol which is almost completely made from plastic. Instructions for printing the weapon out were released on the internet by the company Defense Distributed of Texan law student Cody Wilson. It took only two days for the instructions to be downloaded 100,000 times. That was too much for the US authorities, which made sure that they were deleted from the net.
A plastic weapon? It seems quite unlikely that the pistol really works. Several videos on the internet show people trying to shoot with the one-shoot weapon. While it does shoot, it is not secure for the shooter, and hitting the target is strictly optional. Weiterlesen
The relocation of production is nothing new. Nevertheless, each such endeavour is a small adventure.
Without going into specifics, I would like to present an example: the production of a traditional machine, which requires several value-adding steps – from traditional machining (turning, milling, grinding) to further processing (chrome-plating) to mounting and electrical installation. Weiterlesen
In principal, everybody knows how it works: On the one side the customer knows exactly what he wants, and on the other side the supplier knows how to fulfill these needs. In theory, this is correct. But looking into our global world, it more often works like in the following picture:
Project management: the plain truth
Looking at the plant- and mechanical engineering industry, maybe you might smile about it, and feel it could be a little bit extreme. But if you look within your business field, you might be reminded of one or the other case. After the meeting with the customer the salesman knows exactly what the customer wants. Even the product manager or the member of the R&D team understands what the customer wants. Please, look again at the first three pictures above. How come that the installation differs from the customers’ needs? Weiterlesen
Building bricks – large and small ones, narrow and broad ones, tall and flat ones. We’ve all been familiar with them since our childhood days. And the things we were able to build with them. Houses, garages, castles, towers and cars – the bricks, always the same, were used with different approaches. In manufacturing engineering, this kind of building block concept is called modularization. The idea is to split the customers’ demand in such “bricks” that the replication rate increases, a higher number of possible varieties comes into play (adaptability) and, at the same time, the costs per “brick” and the related research and development costs decrease. Weiterlesen
Whoever searches examples of modularization or standardization, will find one in the automotive industry or other mass production businesses. That leads to the impression that modularization is only possible combined with high volumes and would not be possible for a low volume or even a “lot size 1”. Is that really the truth? Weiterlesen