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Autonomous Engineering and the Theory of Constraints

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a Lean Manufacturing methodology conceived by Elijah Goldratt.  It is comprised of the five following focus steps: Identify the constraintExploit the constraintSubordinate and synchronize to the constraintElevate the performance of the constraintRepeat the process
This methodology of bottleneck identification and elimination have improved the throughput of companies worldwide.
What do you do when the constraint is Engineering time?  CAD and PLM systems have been instrumental in improving productivity, accuracy, quality, and time to market.  Is this as good as it gets?  Of course not.  Autonomous Engineering is the next logic step.  Virtually all Engineering organizations spend considerable time on mundane and repeatable tasks, often described as maintenance and documentation.   Why aren’t these mundane/repeatable tasks automated?  It takes time and no one has the time to do it.  An external company that understands the issues and how to automate them…
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Alternative to ERP for Competitive Advantage

Companies will invest millions of dollars in commercial software and fail to achieve the expected benefits.  Why is that?  Is it because the cost to implement was understated?  Were the financial benefits overstated?  I suggest that in many if not most cases, the software did not address the real issue.  A good example is the sales order process.  The ERP software packages do a decent job of handling the routine process of customers selecting sales order items (part numbers) and handling the typical nuances such as allocating/reserving inventory, backordering items not in inventory, pricing, etc.  But what happens when the process does not fit to the software package?  The typical response is to customize the software to fit the process.  Even so, many steps continue to be performed manually.
Why do companies fail to automate manual processes?  There are three main issues:  1.)  “We have always done it this way”, 2.) It requires change and change is difficult, and 3.) Reduction in a ma…

Shopping for Custom and Highly Engineered Products Using 3D Visualization

The customer shopping process continues to evolve.  For centuries, goods were purchased from the local town shops and markets.  In 1872, Montgomery Ward created the first major mail order catalog business which was followed in 1894 by Sears and Roebuck.  There was one primary problem with the mail order catalog model, the consumer could not interact with the product.  To address this issue, the larger mail order catalog companies began opening their own brick and mortar stores shortly after WWII.  These stores led to the creation of the shopping malls, but the catalog sales were still an integral part of their business model.  The 1990’s brought us the Internet and Amazon, the first of the major Internet retailers (aka E-tailers).  The Internet made it easy for consumers to review product reviews, compare different brands, and compare prices in a way that had never before been possible.  Amazon made it easier to shop online that was superior to the mail order catalog model.  But Amazo…

Powertrain Optimizer, a real-world example of applied Artificial Intelligence

Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are increasingly replacing human decision-making.   A simple example is the planning of a drive from your house to some far away destination.  Before computers, you would use a physical map to review the options and make the decisions of which roadways and freeways to take to arrive at your destination.  When computerized mapping software first became available, the system would mimic the typical human mind by looking at the shortest physical route and consider the roads available to arrive with a logical, but not perfect, route.   Modern day routing systems have evolved by considering external factors that cannot be accessed by the driver in real-time,  including current construction, weather, and traffic flow.  The routing system can find alternative routes to determine the quickest path among them.  A multitude of options can be evaluated in milliseconds.  This an example of Intelligent Optimization.
Certusoft’s truck engineering softwar…