I always have to toot the horn for information verses skilled labor. Coming
from a fairly leftist working class person, it may seem a bit odd, but we have to
roll with the times. Besides, the same types of people that would be the top dogs in
the old union version of production should have the approximate brain capacity
needed to implement the theory I am about to lay upon you.
In my line of work, ornamental metals fabrication, there are some pretty
weird shapes that need to be manufactured. Once they are designed, there are
usually some shop drawings made, and after approval of the fabrication concept
and finish dimensions by the architect or designer, the drawings are given to a
master craftsman to turn the concept into reality. One of the drawbacks to this
process is that some of the shapes drawn need to be laid out in flat-pattern form
before they can be made. The math that is required to perform this (or the
old-school tricks) is done by the high-priced journeymen. Even the simpler parts
still need to be laid out, and this is done by other semi-skilled and relatively
With the invention and subsequent improvements in computer aided design
(of which AutoCAD is the most popular brand), the interpretation stage can be
performed on the same desk top and by the same person that does the original
drafting. The savings in cost are tremendous for several reasons. First and most
obvious is the ability to have lower skilled and thus lower paid workers on the
factory floor manufacturing the items. The information now is just transferred to
the shop, as opposed to generated there.
Another place where savings are found(and the largest, from my
experience) is in the removal of a large amount of mistakes and rework on the
factory floor. The computer generated information can be manipulated and tested
before it has been manufactured. A scale model can be printed and folded like
origami; the information can even be "folded" on the computer screen and
integrated with other corresponding pieces that have been generated similarly.
Other places that offer savings is the ability of the program to be integrated
with purchasing and inventory programs (I haven't explored these yet, but they are
available); the ability to alter or update information immediately and accurately;
and the ease to store and retrieve archival information.
I have not been able to convince the powers that be that this system would
work. Though one of my superiors is very interested, the owner of the company
believes that our industry is so specialized that it would not work in our case, but I
know for a fact it would: the last place I worked I helped to implement just this
system, and it proved very successful. We do have AutoCAD in use, but it is used
only to generate conventional blueprints in lieu of a drafting table. I could prove it,
given the chance, but I tire of trying to prove AutoCAD to an autocrat.