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Aidan explores the processes of how innovations in design can help with efficiency in production. We have already seen vast impacts on design and manufacturing due to new methods of production and Aidan hopes that this will be further perpetuated if engineers from across the globe will collaborate on creating solutions to production problems. The future of manufacturing, engineering, and design in the global economy relies on having optimal efficiency and resource options. Aidan’s submission is included below.

Electronics are quickly shaping how we work and live, the industries of engineering, manufacturing, and design seeing some of the greatest change in the last few decades. Designs that used to take weeks to prepare, only require a few days to complete. Engineers have more materials and technology to work with, finding solutions to problems easier. Manufacturing products has become cheaper and more efficient with new materials and methods of production. With technology providing faster, more efficient methods of work within these fields, I envision great changes to how these fields operate in the future and contribute to the global economy.

Design used to involve rulers, pencils, and long hours in the office perfecting a curve. With the introduction of computers, advancements in processing, and programs that provide a wide array of tools, designs are more accurate and take less time to complete. The introduction of virtual reality simulation software could also benefit design. 3-Dimensional models of designs could be interacted with and refined within one of these environments. In the future I see a select number of very talented positions designing infrastructure and products even more quickly and efficiently as technology advances.

Engineers have always had innovative solutions to problems they encounter. As technology advances and new materials are developed, the time and resources needed to solve the problem decreases.  Take, for example, replacing asphalt as the primary highway construction material. The Hindawi Journal for Advances in Materials Science and Engineering says that, “with the escalating costs and increasing demand on petroleum-derived products including asphalt material, the search for innovative materials from noncrude petroleum sources that are environmentally friendly materials continues to be crucial” (Hindawi). A new material to replace asphalt would reduce the cost of constructing highways, and possibly reduce the impact on the surrounding environment. In the future, materials like this could become available to engineers and be used to build highways more efficiently. Engineers from across the globe could focus on collaborating to create these materials and solutions to fabrication and production problems.

Manufacturing has had the most advances in technology and resources in the past decades. The industry had progressed from hand-made wooden products to machine produced plastics in a few decades. Now with advancements in assembly line production and the introduction of robots into the labor force, it has become cheaper and more efficient to produce goods for consumers. I believe that there is no place for human labor in manufacturing in the future. Specialized robots on production lines are more efficient, cheaper to maintain, and easier to supervise than humans.

If I were to create a business that was responsible for the design, engineering, and manufacturing of a product I would look to the future to organize my operations. Ideally, I would have a team of designers using fast, 3-dimensional, virtual reality software to develop the product while working with a team of engineers to suggest materials and functions. This team of engineers would belong to an organization of engineers from across the industry that researched and developed new materials and technologies for member teams to use. This way competition between companies is involved in what they can create with these resources, maybe this would advance the invention of new products faster than secrecy would, which would benefit the global market. Once the product was developed and tested by the designers and engineers, it would be sent to the production line to be created by highly efficient robots, specially designed to perform a function in the product’s creation.

Collaboration between the teams of designers and engineers would be encouraged; the company would be run on a flat organization model, with no management hierarchy. Employees rely on each other to perform as they need, and issues are resolved between co-workers. Often this type of organization is more efficient than traditional structures. The CEO of W.L. Gore, a flat organization manufacturer that developed Gore-Tex waterproof fabrics, describes the comparison, “It’s far better to rely upon a broad base of individuals and leaders who share a common set of values and feel personal ownership for the overall success of the organization” (Harvard Business Review). This ‘sense of ownership’ could explain the success of many flat organizations, as groups are self-driven to success.

The future of manufacturing, engineering, and design in the global economy lies in greater efficiency and resource options. Countries with greater efficiency will dominate the market. Engineers will have access to new materials and technology to advance their problem-solving capabilities, working with other groups across the world to research and develop these materials. Designers will have access to virtual reality software to interact and refine designs quickly and efficiently. These teams will work together within companies to streamline product development and testing in order to quickly move to manufacturing. In a production line saturated with specialized robotic labor, manufacturing these products will be more efficient and cheaper than human labor. The entire process of producing a product will be changed in the interest of efficiency.

PCB Solutions is constantly looking how to improve the customer experience and one way we do that is by holding our production companies to a high standard. We routinely check for quality control and keep in close contact with our suppliers. All of our suppliers utilize first in- first out inventory management, date code trafficking, environmentally controlled warehouses, and document control for certificates of conformance.