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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Value of Automation...

I have been traveling a bit lately and working on some cool projects so I apologize for the long delay in posting anything.  This evenings topic has to do with some of what I have seen at some companies, and what I have been working on lately.

During my recent travels I visited a company that has a fully Automated web configuration where the customer fills out the size, options, colors, and clicks submit when they are happy with there configuration. From there this data that the customer entered in goes into a rules engine that does some mathematical calculations/decision making and produces both work tickets for some of the manual manufacturing operations that have to happen to create some of the parts, and the parts that can be manufactured automatically get made on an automated line. After all of this all of the pieces to assemble the product show up at the final assembly area where the product is assembled and then shipped to the customer. All I have to say is WOW, that is awesome. I didn't get to spend as much time at this company as I would have liked to, but the time I did get to spend there was very enlightening of what is possible.

Having said that, I started to think of how much could be automated with other customers I have worked with in the past. If not the entire design or product, maybe the automation of a smaller portion could be automated. For example lets think about this. I design Widgets, and these Widgets come in any size from 1 inch long to 100 inches long in 1/8 inch increments. This widget might have some holes in it along the way, but I know these holes are based off of a formula for example 1 hole for every 10 inches spaced 10 inches apart. and maybe there is another rule that says anything over 25 inches gets a support structure every 25 inches. Let's take one more thing into consideration, this widget is very Dependant on the elevation it is installed at, so in my configuration tools I need to have some rules that figure out elevation based off of input from the user. The elevation determines the material it is made out of.

I would create a template assembly with the widget, the holes and the support structures. I would then write a program to incorporate these rules, use visual studio .NET to copy this inventor assembly design to a new part number and set of files, use the Inventor API to manipulate the cad files to update the new design configuration then maybe have this automatically printed out at the manufacturing managers desk with some written instructions.

I think this could be very valuable to companies that have repeatable products. Feel free to leave some feedback on this topic as it is one that really interests me.

More to come from the Value of Automation later on...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Data Management and AutoCAD Electrical

Here it is saturday afternoon and I realized that I have been slacking on the posting. I am sitting here watching the Detroit Tigers from my not so comfy couch and thought about how curious I have been about how many people are using the Autodesk Vault / Productstream solution with AutoCAD Electrical for their Data Management needs. I am interested in doing some posts about this topic and don't currently know if it would be of any interest to anyone who reads this blog.

I have created a short survey that I was hoping that everyone could fill out. There are a total of 3 questions to complete. I would really apreciate all the feedback I can get.  To go to the survey click here

Monday, October 02, 2006

Big Three and Component Detail Numbers???

I recently instructed a class on AutoCAD Electrical and found out something that I never really thought about before.  I figured I would post it here and ask for some feedback from you in the field doing the work.

The topic was that Ford, GM and Chrysler have specific detail numbers for each one of their approved components. For example an AB switch part number 1234 might be detail number 500. it will always be detail number 500 on all Chrysler Jobs. that same switch might be detail number 150 on all Ford jobs and 101 on all GM jobs. Has anyone else ran into this. I have an idea on how to approach this in an Automated sense and would like to know the impact.

Thanks and email any responses to rstein@incat.com.