They've a lot of problems at this point. It seems as of late that they
spend more time modifying and moving minor parts around than building
durability and ease of maintenance into their products. Stylists on
steroids, 1000 different plastic lamp assemblies, late getting on
board with efficiency and mileage improvements, fit and finish issues.
We used to have both GM and Ford assembly plants here, and I've been
in both. I remember when GM first retrofitted the Doraville plant
with robotics to construct a new Oldsmobile model. Yet the Camry ate
it for lunch in performance, mileage, comfort, and durability. The
cost of living in this country, and thus the cost of labor, are
killing us in the world markets we now have to compete in - which
includes the US. The plant closed in early 2009, after GM spent $150
million upgrading it in 2003, and most of the workers fled to other
plants around the country, one commenting that they felt like gypsies.
Many were foreclosed on when the plants shut down and they were unable
to replace the $28/hour pay. The plant now sits idle with weeds
reclaiming the pavement and GM refuses to sell at less than prime
rates in a depressed market. Where's Ed Cole when you need him?
Similarly, the Ford Hapeville Assembly Plant ceased production in
October 2006. The city was attempting to revitalize the area but the
housing and economy bust shelved any concrete plans.
I simply don't see how anyone realistically expects us to compete with
50 cent an hour workers and countries who have no safety concerns,
pollution standards, or labor laws. CEO's in this country are now
complaining about publicity over the child labor they exploit in the
third world to produce products they import.
Who is going to buy anything when they have no jobs or income?
WalMart doesn't cut it, everyone can't be an attorney or doctor, and
much of the manual labor "services industry" stuff has been taken over
by immigrant labor - with the tacit assistance of business. Phone
support, computer programming outsourced. IBM has an entire line of
CAD products produced in India.
Man, things sure were a lot simpler 30 years ago...
India? I thought IBM's CAD product was Catia, which is a product of Avions
The thing is, we can't compete on the world market for stuff that doesn't
require special expertise to make. There isn't any good short term
solution--if we close the borders the rest of the world will do the same and
the market for US goods and services will disappear. Long term we have to
encourage innovation instead of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
In many ways the US is one of the _least_ innovative countries in the
world--look at aerospace--the Russians brought five designes to completion
to our one--yes, our best were and are better than their best, but they were
trying stuff that we weren't. We've been talking about Wing In Ground
Effect for decades, they've been flying them for decades. How about
shipbuilding--why is the fastest ship in the world made in Australia?
Consumer electronics--how is is that the Japanese grasped the concept that
"good enough" consumer video would sell and then brought VHS and Beta to
market, while Ampex, which was technologically capable of doing that as far
back as the '60s, never _tried_ it? And a little Japanese vacuum bottle
that is absolutely brilliant--the inside is exactly sized so that you can
drop a can of soda or beer into it and keep the can cold for hours. Thermos
could have made that at any time during their history so why didn't anybody
think to _try_ it? The thing that put Japanese consumer electronics on the
map wasn't cheap stuff, it was an expensive little 12-inch TV that could run
off the lighter plug in a car--everybody who saw those first little Sonys
was fascinated by them and the US electronics industry had _nothing_ like
that. Even stupid little bric-a-brac--I've got a set of little LED lights
that stick to your fingertips with rubber bands that are good for
light-painting and make a fun stocking stuffer (unfortunately the rubber
bands that come with them suck but rubber bands aren't hard to find) that
some US company could have been making ages ago.
I don't know why this is the case--just that it is. We don't encourage
companies to bring high-risk products to market, we don't encourage basic
research, we don't encourage applied research, and we keep moaning and
groaning about how other countries do a better job of "science education"
while most people who graduate with technical degrees end up either teaching
school or doing something unrelated to their degree.
And then there's general incompetence--I remember the materials people at
Enormous Aerospace telling us that we couldn't use this or that or the other
because it made seals swell--one day somebody asked the materials guy why we
cared if it made seals swell, and he replied "because it indicates that
there is something going on that could potentially degrade the seal".
Wasn't until I had left that industry that I found out that the tests the
idiots were using came from the automotive industry and the purpose of the
test wasn't to find out _if_ the seals swell but to make sure that they
swelled by the _right_ _amount_ and that all the stuff that the idiots had
been telling us that we couldn't use made the seals swell because it was
_supposed_ to make the seals swell. But it's not just big business--I used
to work for a woman who had visions of becoming a software vendor--the
trouble is that she didn't know squat about the computer industry or about
software and she thought that she could play for cheap with something that
had started out as a simple little program to do one stupid thing, and grown
into an unmaintainable monster by adding this feature and that feature and
the other feature until it was a few hundred thousand lines of code.
Sorry for the rant.
Actually, Catia is the IBM line, Dassault Systems is SolidWorks Corp.
I've owned some of the things you mention. Large Corporate operations
seem very slow to consider anything out of their already saturated
markets, they have no imagination and are unwilling to take risks.
Can you imagine a car like the Chevy Corvair being produced in this
day and age? For a major US manufacturer, first Unibody, first
turbocharger, first transaxle, first aluminum block/head, first air
cooled horizontally opposed six, independent 4-link suspension ('65
and later), etc. They attacked the market penetration of the likes of
Renault and VW while Ford produce the Falcon which primarily cut into
their own sales of larger sedans. Regardless of what you think about
the car, it made money, and still has aficionados around the world.
The engine is still sought after for airplanes, dune buggies, and
generators. Silly example, perhaps, but an indication of how little
real innovation has occurred since.
And you're right about the VCRs. I owned an Ampex open reel video
recorder back in the early 70s - B&W piece of shit. But it had all the
requisite technology - helical scan, linear sound track, and was sort
of portable. Marketers didn't feel there was a consumer demand and
failed to engineer a compact, easy to use version. They also had
studios and producers wailing in their ears about possible copyright
violations. The Japanese didn't care about all that, certainly did
forge ahead producing tons of VCRs. And TVs, radios, walkmans/discmans
Timidity is not a survival trait.
See? ;-) As for the engineers, many probably got sick of the status
quo and general backbiting. ladder climbing corporate crap.
We resemble that remark. ;-) But I hear what you are saying.
Actually, I go through a rewrite of our code, compartmentalizing and
removing any redundant code every few months. But added features are
what keeps a product competitive. Bells and whistles sell. Compare
AutoCAD and SolidWorks or SolidEdge or... Light years apart. AutoDesk
did come out with Inventor, but market share had been lost at that
point and competition was aggressive. It's hard to move an installed
base from one system to another once training has been done.
No worries, mate. Been there, done that...
D'oh! We're both right. I was wrong about IBM, although they
apparently have some input and employ a team in India - perhaps it is
for the IBM AIX port of Catia 5. BOTH are now products of the French
based Dassault Systems. SolidWorks was originated in Massachusetts in
1995, and was bought by Dassault in 1997. Cripes it's hard to keep up
with them all. SolidEdge, Pro/Engineer, SolidWorks, Catia, AutoDesk
Inventor, Siemens NX, TurboCAD, I-DEAS, Unigraphics, etc.
Not too long ago you had AutoCAD, then entry level programs like
Generic CADD and TurboCAD, and IMSI something or another.
And my earlier rant about AutoCAD was somewhat misplaced. While
others went into the parmetric/3D modeling CAD world directly,
AutoDesk entered into it sidways through its early development of
3DStudio/MAX which was oriented towards 3D visual presentation and
video rendering. I've actually got an old copy of the DOS based
3DStudio around here somewhere, along with the IPAS plugins.
Sheese... Took hours to render a scene...
Reading Usenet, eating a pizza, and looking over an EDI 850 spec sheet
do NOT make for a useful contribution to anything. Excuse the typos
and drifting train of thought...
Hey, I've met engineers who couldn't change a tire, and would turn the
entire process into a consortium of opinions and analysis before
attempting to do so 2 hours later. Just get out of the f'in way
And "Enormous Aerospace" is what... NASA? Boeing? Lockheed/Martin?
And the seals you refer to are the O-rings in the shuttle boosters?
Man what a boondoggle that is... I wouldn't ride one of those
inextinguishable sticks of dynamite into space for any amount of
money... And my childhood dream was to be an astronaut! I'm glad we
got something up there, but was disappointed in what we ended up with.
You forgot CADAM. Both were IBM's at one time (CADAM from Lockheed,
IIRC), though it looks like CADAM is completely Dassault's now and
there is some sort of partnership between Dassault and IBM on Catia.
There is also IBM CAD, which was OK on the desktop but went pretty
much the way of OS/2.
Microstation, Bricscad, BRL-CAD, form-Z are a few others. The market
is saturated with CAD/CAM software. I've used quite a few different
solutions, but not in depth. Pro/Engineer was probably the first
"affordable" parametric 3D CAD program that gained quite a bit of
popularity against AutoCAD but was a bit slow - I'm thinking that some
versions actually ran under the Java JITC.
SolidWorks built upon some of the basic work flow premises of Pro/E
and is the one (besides AutoCAD and 3DStudioMax) that I am most
familiar with. Transitioning from a 2D drafting program is a bit
intimidating, so it's best to forget all that you know and start from
scratch. The methodology used in Solidworks fit my mindset best and is
an amazing program for the cost. There are plug-ins for quickly
modeling gear-sets (worm, rack and pinion, helical), finite, thermal,
mass and loading/stress analysis, CAM plug-ins for plotting tool paths
and generating G-code for milling, basic PCB and schematic, wire and
pipe routing, sheet metal folding, etc. Being a long time fan of MA
based AutoDesk I would have leaned towards Inventor but there wasn't
as much support although it has been gaining momentum since version 9.
And yes, it can be used to design Woodworking projects, although the
$5k price tag kinda rules that out for most of us... :-o
Anyone interested in free 3D modeling/CAD might check out FreeCAD:
(Work in progress, helps to know Python...)
And for $125 there is TurboCAD 16 Deluxe 2D/3D which is pretty good:
Anyone expending a modicum of effort can convert this:
(It's a router table, BTW...)
Might be because everything is so finite in woodworking vs., in this case,
party politics which should cause extreme cognitive dissonance if folks
stopped to think about the inconsistencies in their positions. ;~)
3 friends have lost fingers from saws
1 had his fingers other side of blade kickback dragged fingers into blade
2 was cutting big piece of plywood and it started to flip up off blade he
pushed it back down fingers onto blade
3 using chop saw I think he had his hand on far side of blade and as he was
bringing it down he was pulling back his hand and it touched the blade and
dragged it in
Not that things go wrong often but
I lean way back hands above head when things go wrong I look a little
girlish and I still have fingernails to paint if I wanted too...
Also have socialized single payer healthcare here but don't want to use it
I think all 3 of those examples are good lessons and I'm going to especially
remember 1 and 2.
Another one, recently mentioned by a
reader in FWW, happened when the reader reached down to turn off his saw and
held his push stick near the blade--and as he leaned over the saw blade
propelled the push stick through
neck (in this case, the result was not as bad as it could have been).
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