Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's almost overwhelming how reliant and dependent our jobs and our lives have become on technology. Though, technology is there to make our lives easier. Can you say it hasn't? The ever so often technical difficulties that happen may provoke you to say it's made some days at work horrible; but for the most part, we can all relish in the fact that we love technology. It allows us to locate a place we've never been to with our phones or have meetings with Japan without leaving the office. On a more local level, the Internet has cut MRO costs and made commodities easier to track.

Plenty of motor management software has made industrial engineers' lives easier at work. Simply by connecting to the Internet, there will be all tracking and storing information on equipment and machinery components at your fingertips. Since Wi-Fi is available basically anywhere, it's not hard to monitor returns and cut pointless inventory and repair costs. It also helps cut wasteful time. By that I mean that we all hate making reports or find them tedious.

One feature of equipment management software is built-in reports. They help you schedule preventative maintenance that helps determine stock levels, tracking failures and causes of those failures. Understanding the causes of failures will help prevent future ones. Data storage that is unlimited is unheard of. Having this feature increases efficiency at work, such as maintenance schedules or prevents break downs.

Not that any of us want 24/7 accesses to our jobs. For those in steel mills, paper mills or pharmaceuticals, they could benefit from having 24/7 accesses to their reports and data storage; if they need to make a quick change, they could do so from home. There is a hidden luxury in this capability of management software. It's technology once again making your job a little easier. If real life had software that could anticipate potential failures, I would own it; having it at work would suite too.

Think of the ways technology helps you. It's almost disgusting how much. It's been five years since Apple introduce the iPhone to the market. In hindsight that doesn't seem too long. Seeing a flip-phone now seems ancient. All I'm saying is that it's a fact we have to accept: technology is only advancing. Lean on it a little at work. Some days are hard enough to wake and actually drive to work. Might as well let something else do a little more work.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Not only is hiring in the technology industry on the rise in general, but also the methods that companies are using to bring in the top technology talent across the country. It makes sense that companies would need to use cutting-edge technology to find those technology savvy job candidates: the use of cloud computing, web 2.0 and recruitment software programs are becoming commonplace to discover and land the top echelon of tech job applicants.

Cloud computing may be a marketing buzz word nowadays, however, the actual technology has a strong foundation that can lead to easier and more efficient hiring pathways within technology companies. Recruiting and applicant tracking technology that utilizes software 'in the cloud' is more easily accessible by a company's hiring managers and recruiters from wherever they are. In addition, cloud computing technology is secure: applicant and candidate data that is stored in the cloud is protected from getting accidentally deleted or destroyed like on traditional servers housed within a company headquarters.

Although large tech companies are known to have 'war-chests' of capital used to launch new products as well as helm hiring initiatives, the past few years of economic recession have seen these companies exercise an unprecedented level of restraint in spending. In the final quarter of 2010 and the start of 2011, however, these large tech companies are beginning to open their funding pathways again to prepare for a new generation of incoming technology stars.

The uptick in hiring within the tech industry bodes well for technology heavy areas like Silicon Valley in the Bay Area, which is known as a breeding grown for both tiny internet startups as well as tech behemoths like Google and Facebook. As the economy normalizes, large web companies are likely to start more heavily competition for the best engineers on the market. Utilizing cutting edge recruitment software to land applicants will likely be one of many strategies that Silicon Valley tech companies utilize.

An unprecedented amount of college and post college graduates are entering the workforce with degrees in engineering and programming that will be invaluable to tech companies around the world. In the end, the future success and competitiveness of these companies will depend on the young recruits they hire within the next decade. These are the individuals that will slowly move up the ranks and end up in decision-making positions within these companies, essentially deciding the fate of them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Yacht building industry is struggling with economic crisis all over the world. Every related business is trying cost cutting ass a happy medium to avert decrease of profit and keep adequate financial results.

The main question arising is how to do that? Decreasing workers salary is out of question as in effect company could lose most skilful employees, which would probably lead to worsening product quality, losing clients and market share. Moreover the biggest competition being far east industry European minimal wage laws would not make it possible to get salaries low enough to compete with them.

A lot of western yards try to outsource production to less developed countries. In the beginning difference in salaries and worse labor environment allow to produce cheaper thus generating more profit. Unfortunately with time product quality is dropping significantly or workshops demand more money, as life expectancies start equaling between both countries. What is even more dangerous company can loose clients who wish to cut off the middleman and buy directly from the yard.

So how to survive? Technology seems to be the only reasonable option. As cutting salaries is not the best idea, replacing workers with machines seems to work pretty well. The quality is as high as we planned, tolerances can be smaller allowing to decrease material wastage, they are never tired or sick and the speed of production is increased. As always there are some drawbacks. Better educated thus more expensive staff will be required, however in lower quantity. Initial capital is also much higher so the investment risk rises. And there must be production going on - without constant sales upkeep can become a serious problem.

Time for some practical solutions. Lets start with design/naval architecture/engineering office.

First of all a good project management program is essential. It will allow to plan and execute complicated projects while still having control over amount of work already done and keeping the deadlines. It will cut cost by allowing just in time production management, estimating labor-consumption and checking if workers speed is adequate. Easy workers accounting is a positive side effect. There is a lot of free applications ( such as Navalplan) as well as paid ones available on the internet - only open mind of the board is required.

Second thing a good CAD system is required uniform throughout the company. And good does not necessary mean expensive. A lot of very expensive software is bought because some years ago there was no real alternative. But this changed now. You can have a reasonable 2D/3D software for about 1000EUR/license with many available plugins ( for example Rhinoceros 3D) including specialized marine plugins and workshop support software. Some of them are of course paid, some are free. Why CAD system is so important? Because on the shop floor nobody should have to think. Documentation should show every information that is needed, everything should be in its place and within tolerance. 3D design helps to avoid many mistakes and errors and in fact speed the design process making it cheaper as well. The necessary thing is design process automation. Automatic generation of 2D drawing from 3D model is essential. Many programs support makros or even scripting ( for example IronPython scripting in Rhino) providing a tool to make easy, repetitive and time consuming processes take several seconds requiring only several input values (for example linesplan creating script for Rhinoceros can save multiple working hours executing in less than a minute). Creating models and details database while from first look appearing as a waste of time saves significant amounts of work an time. Automation has another advantage - less errors.

Third thing calculations software. If company is making designs from scratch it is essential. It saves hundreds of manhours and nobody is going to deny that. Hydrostatics, stability, strength, stress analysis, EU certification all require a lot of time that can be saved if proper software is used. Standalone or plugin does not matter as long as it gives reliable results.

There is a lot of places on the shop floor where money can be saved.

First of all is keeping tolerances and guarding consistency with design. Changes on this stage are rather costly and require wide check with design drawings and corrections. The best practice is to make everything well in the design stage and then just execute the plan. Giving information about changes and feedback to design office if absolutely essential. A lot of time and cash can be lost if changes are made only on the shop floor, mainly because further design details will need to be corrected or prohibit the intended change to be carried out thus requiring reversing of the works already done.

Tolerances. Very often builders forget about tolerances, especially in early building stages when keeping them is most important. If there are big inadequacies made in beginning nothing will fit in later. Big structure dimensions tolerances cause using CNC machines obsolete. There is no sens to make a 0.1mm tolerated ply cut when someone will have to fit it with angle grinder. So tolerances should be kept low from the beginning.

Using machines better then mentioned before angle grinder is also very important. First of all quality. There is no way superior quality can be achieved using hand-held tools. This is 21st century CNC milling machines are nothing fancy. If company cannot afford one yet the job should be outsourced. A lot of carpentry workshops have one so finding a supplier shouldn't be a problem. It won't be much more expensive, and it will allow to keep the tolerances low and give a good finish effect. If you are working with steel - laser cut or waterjet is an answer. It would be grate to make molds with CNC machines but it gets quit costly for now.

For composite boats vacuum bagging is minimum, infusion is right. Better quality, higher strength, lower weight, lower time required, lower emissions, better working environment and good marketing possibilities makes it worth. Significant amount of time and funds must be put in to it to make it work.

Measurement techniques were always a problem in yachtbuildng due to small enclosed spaces and a lot of curvatures. Regular tape measure wont make the job as not many edges are straight. Total station can be quite effective in early stages of construction, however later it will become obsolete. Photogrametry is promising in conjunction with right CAD system.

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