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Mike LaCroix
08/24/06 09:10 AM
Re: Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Li new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Just like the writer of the article, I am a freelance product designer and understand the long hours and deadlines that are unrealistic. My response to the question "Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Life and Quality in General?" is a resounding NO. Also, the qestion needs to be addressed as two independent topics, Quality of Life and Quality of product. It must be remembered that CAD, be it mechanical CAD or electronic CAD or whatever CAD, is only a tool no different than a hammer or screwdriver. As the saying goes, "it is not the tool that counts but rather how you use it". If we look at the "Quality of Life" aspect first, we should remember that what we do in life and how we live it is based only on the choices that we make. If the job keeps you away from the family too much, there is the choice to find a new job that allows more family time or just don't work any overtime. The reality is that the only thing responsible for a persons quality of life is that person and the choices they make. Thus if a person chooses to be a freelance engineer working from home and takes on either too many jobs or commits to impossible deadlines, the loss of family time is a result of their own choices. If you don't like your current situation, make a choice to change it, but don't blame a tool for the problem.

As for the issue of "Quality in General", again, the problem is not the tool but how the tool is used. Before working as a freelancer I used to work for large and small corporations and the controlling factors in product quality were not the design tools but the skill of the people who use them. The problem of product quality doesn't rest solely with the product designers but with the entire process from concept to product shipping. If we look at the plate in the elevator that didn't fit properly, we might find out that everything mated perfectly in the CAD model and that the problem was with the company making the plate. On top of that, the elevator company might not have inspected that part upon receipt. As for the installer, the fact that it didn't fit just right wasn't his/her concern and might not even work for the elevator company and figured that if they just install it the best they can, that will be good enough. If that was truly the scenario, then CAD had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the product.

It is my firm belief that the quality of one's life is only as good as one makes it with their own personal choices. As for the quality of the product, it will only be as good as the people involved with it from concept to shipping and their abilities, not the tools they use.

In closing I would just like to say that there is a much bigger issue at play here with regards to quality of life and product. Many many years ago, there was a time when employers held their employees in high regard and vice versa. Today, that is no longer true and quite the opposite. Today, companies only care about the bottom line and maximizing it at all costs. As for the workers, the same thing is true except that the bottom line is their salary. No more are the days of loyalty between company and worker where a person can start and retire at the same company during their career. So long as this disrespect between employers and employees continues, a person's quality of life will always be below what it could be. As for the quality of the product, the bigger issue is the lack of quality training and common sense in young new workers. There needs to be a fundamental change in philosophy regarding training/education of new hires. But that is a whole new subject.

Mike LaCroix

08/28/06 04:13 PM
past present and future new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

what can help you deliver better desing in less time - software...
change is upon us people... using 20 year old software to meet the demands of costumers today...
autodesk is doing it ... the new inventor and revit... it's sad to say this but... goodbye AutoCAD it was fun while it lasted...
sure there are many people thinking it will not be today autocad retires, but maybe it's the user that has to retire first. the next generation of designer will not use autocad, just like the old generation switched from pen and paper to CAD

08/29/06 07:06 AM
CAD Dimish Quality new [re: samov]Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Well, let me say the feedback on this subject is quite interesting and well receieved, although I feel a little disillusioned. It appears that many are living in dreamland vs. reality. Like or not its about the almighty dollar in todays world and everything else is secondary. Although I agree that the lack of quality does not soley ly on the designers shoulders. If you look at the entire process needed to get an idea into the market, you will see that every step is budget conscience...and rightfully so. Lets face it companies are in business to make money, right? The problem is when business wants to make ludicrious money and make sacrifices in workmanship, employee benefits, etc., etc.. So whether your using the best or the fastest software doesn't make a hill of beans.
And in all honestly, theres software out there thats far better and faster than Autodesk Inventor but until businesses realize that there staff needs more time to make decisions and improve quality you might as well ustick with AutoCAD 2D. In fact that way you have an excuse when deadlines are missed.

Interested Engineer
08/30/06 08:50 AM
Interested engineer Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

I don't get it. Long hours aren't related to CAD/CAM. I started on a board with pencil and vellum. We worked long hours on some projects on paper, and later worked long hours on CAD, sometimes we worked reasonable hours. A lot of it's related to the company and industry you work in. We are in a world economy and are competing with people in poor countries desperate for work. We also compete with other industrialized nations with strong work ethics.
A good solid modeling program can be properly used, with downloaded components modeled by the manufacturer, using interference checking and just a lot of examining fits. You can make the parts transparent and see what's happening inside your assembly. I remember the master designer putting together 3 views on the master layout, and everyone studying it to see which pencil lines went to which component! NO THANKS! If you use the power available, you can design far more stuff, better and faster than ever before. With this power and modern rapid prototyping / manufacturing methods, the prototypes should converge much faster and better into a good product. It's all about workmanship with the tools you have.
As for the elevator panel, there are bad projects in all times. It's a matter of workmanship, at either the design, manufacturing or installation stage. I've got news for you. They made bad stuff in the '70's and every time too. Maybe it's since been broken and replaced. Remember transistor radios and 8-track tapes?

Tom Kirkman
(Stranger )
09/06/06 05:39 AM
Re: Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Life and Quality in general? Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Cad/cam software is a tool. It is no different that paper and pencil. It is the engineer that makes the difference.

It is easy to blame the software. Let's face it, when we live in a society that personal responsibility goes out the window, the blame is placed anywhere but upon the individual.

Do the best job you can, and you will be fine. If the company you are in does not care that you are doing your best, find another company.

10/04/06 06:59 AM
Re: Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Life and Quality in general? Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

One of the issues that is missing in the article but has been mentioned in some of the responses is that the person who is using the CAD system for Design and Detailing should actually KNOW something about design and drafting. CAD is a tool not unlike a pencil or triangle, that is used to convey what is in your head (knowledge, experience, company know-how, etc.) and get it to a piece of paper or data file for use in manufacturing, quoting, customer review..... Just because you can do it faster does not make it better. It seems that today many companies want to hire young degreed Engineers to do the job that seasoned Designers should be doing and then complain about the CAD system because they don't really know how to use it properly. Maybe that's what happened to the Elevator..........

10/04/06 07:47 AM
Cad speeds up work Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

This article is good. I design electronics and cad has speeded up and improved printed circuit boards. The design itself depends on the ability and integrety of the engineer doing the design. Management does think designs can be done faster, but they don't take into consideration the research and developement time that has nothing to do with the actual drawings.

10/06/06 01:37 PM
I find the younger generation... new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

I find your conclusions rather interesting and familar. I remember Kelly Johnson's statement in the 70s about CAD along the same lines. He bemond the loss of engineering creativity and quality. His response was give me a few more engineer's that can use slide rules and a few less computers. Aside for the historical reference, what I have watched more years than I care to admit to in public has been an acceleration of the business cycle which has accellerated the engineering and product development cycle. This has ultimately resulted in businesses looking for people to fill slots that can come in and so to speak be productive immediately. I use the passive sentence purposely, as I see lots of engineer's lately that can bang out a design, but is it a good design. I see many senior engineering manager' that I would let suppervise running bathwater for my kids bath.
I don't put this people down, its the environment that has created them to be they way they are. When was the last time you saw a real apprentiship program? I don't mean having interns grinding through dog work, I mean a real program where new talent was brought on board the team and given a project of some real importance to do suppervised by a real mentor.
During the late 80s was asked about how to save the talent and knowledge that was leaving out the door in most major aerospace corporations. During that time AI and Knowledge Capture where the big things at IBM. I remember telling a panel of Sr. Execs the best thing they could do was create a real mentor program and start using their Sr.s not as managers but trainier and mentors. Bring up people from the ranks to learn how to do large projects.
As I watch many more corporations (GM, IBM, even MIcrosoft) stumbling, I can see the roots of their own failures in not investing in people. You hear the slogan "People are our most important asset" however, you don't see them managed that way. They've become just another portfolio item to be traded.
Given that situation, do you wonder why many people today are acting as though they're here just to fill a slot. Do exactly what was spec'd no more, no less --stay in the box. If my company wants be to do something they'll tell me. Trouble is most of the management above is clueless on what they need to tell these people as they didn't learn it from their management in the 90s.
They've learned mangement by spreadsheet and therefore if it doesn't fit into Cell A4 it doesn't get worked upon. I guess I shouldn't worry, it just means more money for my consulting business strating out these problems.

(Stranger )
10/07/06 06:45 AM
Re: Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Life and Quality in general? new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Interesting comments all.

For perspective, I am an Architect that has been "on the boards" closing in on 40 years. My first real drafting assignments were inking (tracing) design drawings onto linen with ruling pens and using Crow Quill pens for lettering. We were taught that drafting was an "art" unto itself and far different than design.

Now days, as an architect, I am involved in two stages of the design process ...

Prototypes ... new structures that have never been built before.

Design Revisions ... better known as historical preservation.

I strive to communicate my designs to those in the field by using the techniques taught to me so long ago. Drafting is about communication, not design.

I currently have my daughter inputting a building originally designed in 1929 into CAD. The quality of the drawings are in a completely different universe than the junk posing as construction documents in most A&E shops today.

The term lineweight is a foreign concept to most folks.

I live by three rules in my business

As a checker of the work of others ...
Am I making "different" or am I making it "better"

As a mentor of others ...
If you cannot visualize the object in 3D
You cannot communicate it in 2D
So it can be built in 3D

Every structure is designed in my head long before I every put pencil to paper of pixel to screen.

My mantra for design communication is ...

CAD only makes you draw bad faster.

10/10/06 03:29 AM
Re: Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality of Life and Quality in general? [re: Ant'ny]Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

I see where you are coming from, and fond memories of being on the "board" and "communicating" with those faceless people who were going to create your work of art comes flooding back.
Thank you, that is what I needed.
CAD drafting does not encompass all, if you cannot think "3D" then CAD won't do it for you.
The only saving I have found in CAD over the last 26 years is in "corrections". Admittadly, if a good CAD manager sets the department up properly i.e. standards, blocks etc., savings are to be made, but my experience is that this procedure is rare.
I work with a person who has taught CAD, yet does not know how to re-align axis when they have been set to a "non- X_Y" orientation. SCARY!
I give myself another year or so, and then I will retire and watch the "engineers" (who know all) just grind Western know-how into the ground and the Asian nations will (as they are begining to) take over. Goodbye Western Engineering/ Manufacturing.
What are our children/ grand children going to do? Be Salespeople?
The reliance on Technology scares me, I have used it since 1980, but I rely on gut instinct, an art seemingly being lost/ eroded.

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