We've been building cars and planes pretty much the same way for decades now. And then, all of a sudden, a new technology comes along and changes everything we’ve done and the way we have been doing it?
To understand the reasons for such a momentous shift, let us naively observe the way we work today in almost every single industrial company – from the way we engineer and manufacture products to how we maintain them in service.
So, should we ban paper forever?
Writing down equations, pen to paper, remains a good option in preliminary design. Unfortunately, what's lacking is continuity in the knowledge generated for detailed assembly and component design. Ideally, equations should be implemented numerically to specify the underlying physical principles governing an industrial product gradually.
Nowadays, off-the-shelf software solutions exist to support product design, which belong to the category of Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE). However, they are still only used by less than 20% of the engineers and scientists because complex product designs cannot be fully addressed with these out-of-the-box, generic solutions.
And for the rest, there is Excel!
Hurray for Excel!
While scientific programming is getting more accessible with open-source software like Python, many companies tend to ignore this and still rely heavily on Excel.
There are a ton of solid benefits to that... but also a lot of downfalls.
When addressing data-related problems, we must admit that storing data in spreadsheet tables and plotting graphs in a few clicks, and with little to no prior knowledge, is a pretty easy way to start. A lot of engineering tools and scientific applications are developed exactly this way – by interns and experts alike, or by engineers within a company or scientists subcontracting through collaborative projects.
But when comes time to deploy this data to someone else, you often face problems – the data is tangled up with formulas and algorithms are lost in cells. It becomes impossible to find a way to make it work again. And if you can't get your hand on the developer of the application, yup, you guessed it, back to square one you go!
Deployment isn't about sending new versions via email
When deploying an application, it rarely works the first time. Tests are usually needed, and version updates are often required.
Have you ever experienced this situation: You are looking for the latest version of a document in your mailbox, but you can’t find it? (this might happen less since the birth of Google Doc and Dropbox).
For application deployment, all parties must have the same version of the application available to them, especially if you want to keep your IT department happy when deploying a new application on every workstation.
With cloud solutions, deployment is seamless and instantaneous.
So, what are you waiting for? Welcome this technology into your company and career with open arms – before the other guy beats you to it.
Updated: October 18, 2023