Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Re-Engineering for Manufacture:

During my checkered career in the computer business, I’ve made some painful discoveries about how hardware has to be re-designed so that it can be manufactured. Engineers proudly produce a working device, and manufacturing screams that they cannot build it as designed. There may be a three to six month delay, unanticipated by everyone who can’t wait to make money from this new device, until it can be rebuilt to manufacturing’s specs, and actually work properly.

Here are a few of the good reasons for manufacturing to re-invent the wheel:

  • Manufacturing people cannot duplicate the engineer’s painstaking handcrafting. They need parts and tolerances to allow them to automate the building process, and hire cheap labor.

  • Manufacturing worries about federal regulations that limit the electronic interference each device can broadcast. They worry about UL regulations and tons of safety regulations.

  • Manufacturing worries about how many units will be built incorrectly, maybe even shipped and returned. They need a very low failure rate.

  • Manufacturing worries about lowering cost to increase profit, which gets important when building in quantity.
Even tenths of a cent count when you’re reducing manufacturing costs.

Now why isn’t software re-engineered for manufacturability? I think the answer’s simple: It’s too expensive to touch the software, it’ll break.

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