2020 was a unique year in many ways for many reasons and for many people. This was true in the manufacturing industries as well as in education, medicine, and entertainment. The trends and the trajectory for manufacturing in the United States have shifted dramatically from what we were expecting a year ago. Many changes were driven by advances in technology but the focus and demands for the technology have been driven by new and unique needs created by the pandemic and government policy, correctly or incorrectly, created as a response to the pandemic. We have seen and will see changes in manufacturing and technology impacted significantly through supply chain, reshoring and plant upgrades caused by shifting resources and strategic necessities progressing as a result of COVID pandemic.
Now you want to be an engineer, so how do you do it?
During National Engineers Week we filled you in on all the reasons you should be an engineer. EWeek, as it is also known, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated engineering workforce by increasing the understanding of and interest in engineering careers in the United States. So why should someone become and engineer? And if you decide on an engineering career, how do you become one?
So, how do you know if you want to be an engineer? I asked some of the engineers here at Optimation.
The Challenging Question We Often Face.
Recently, I was challenged by a friend, who is not associated with our business, if I could explain why one of our prospective clients why they would hire an outside design/build engineering firm.The client has the capability to produce products in their manufacturing plants, and would thus have a fair amount of in house capability. This is a very provocative question, and one which we are regularly challenged to answer. As I reflected on the varied reasons that support our business, I decided that rather than give my usual elevator speech, I would have a bit of fun with my answer. So, here are what we observe are the top ten reasons (in ascending order) why our clients do routinely ask us to participate, as viewed from their perspective:
Not only did we celebrate a new year when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2020, but also a new decade (depending on who you ask)! What is it about a new year that causes us to take stock and vow to make improvements? As I stepped on the scale this morning, I noted that one of my high ranking resolutions is in serious jeopardy. But then, I was able to rationalize my lackluster progress by remembering that all the holiday cookies, candy, caramel coated popcorn, etc. have been consumed, and the plan to lose a few pounds should self-correct (skeptics need not reply).
“Rapid” is how we describe getting things done quickly. It implies that an objective is pursued with haste, but not with waste. Rapid is positive, advantageous, and sought-after.
In the brave new world of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), many companies are discovering that they have better connectivity and access to a wide variety of data generated by their business and manufacturing computing systems. This digital information is a product of databases used to order products, manufacture them, and even ship them. With all this information at hand, manufacturers are beginning to ask how the data could be used (mined) to improve a whole host of company metrics, like lead times, yields, supply chain efficiency, etc. With most businesses that utilize computers across their product delivery stream, the key is to cull out the valuable information from the massive amounts of less valuable data at hand. As you might imagine, this becomes a daunting challenge.
As a process and product engineer for a fortune 100 company that manufactured high value chemical products, my job involved analysis of a tremendous amount of process and product information.
At one point, Kodak continuously evaluated over two hundred thousand process and product parameters for all production orders in the worldwide film supply chain. The parameters being evaluated included: key process parameters, such as chemical reactor feed flows and temperatures; product release parameters, such as number of defects in a 10,000 ft master roll of coated film, and the condition of critical process components, such as pump vibration level, heat exchanger approach temperatures, motor current draws and control valve positions. Automatic alerts are generated to alert maintenance when parts need to be replaced or operations when a product just made needs to be held and not released to downstream operations. How did Kodak accomplish this level of aggressive monitoring in a global supply chain with flexible manufacturing systems and thousands of product recipes? In short, the answer is Process Monitor.