Today's Headlines!
Engineering 101 Updated

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I am a Boeing trained design draftsman and have 55 years in engineering of which the first 17 were in manual drafting and the next 38 have been in 3D MCAD mostly as a contract engineer and consutant. I have sold, trained and supported PC based 3D MCAD, provided design services to both engineering and manufacturing and been part of the implementation of 3D CAD into engineering for the last 33 years as TECH-NET, Inc.

I took a looked at some engineering problems in the current news and thought "What is going wrong"? Engineering is not "Rocket Science".. oops wait, yes it is! Engineering has operated on set standards that were established decades, if not, centuries ago. The goal of all engineering standards is "Murphy Proofing".

Today, it seems like those standards have been tossed into the wind and are being replaced by those that have no applicable engineering experience.

With the introduction of 3D MCAD there seemed to be no need for the draftsman, which I must agree. But there was no transition plan to move the new 3D CAD engineer to take over the documentation responsibilities.

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

I have realized that today there is no "Engineering Documentation" training. I have heard of management even ignoring standards of the past stating "They are only guide lines" and I chuckle at the convoluted PLM and MBE trying to manage the documentation. Most documentation standards are now being made on the fly. Don't believe me? Take a look!

PMI (Product Manufacturing Information) vs AID (Associated Information Document)

Take a look what made these projects fail, hello, Mr. Murphy.

What is standard engineering?

  1. It is relatively easy to understand.

  2. Design functional parts

  3. Create concise, complete and unambiguous documentation

  4. Check the documentation for manufacturability and correctness

  5. Release to document control

  6. Documents are archived and put in an accessible document manager

  7. Pertinent documents are released to manufacturing

  8. Receive and inspect the parts

  9. The parts are released to final assembly

That is it

Note: Some Documentation includes the 3D Model.

No matter the size of the manufacturing company those are the only steps that make up the engineering process

I am going to make this a continuing report on our industry!

Headlines- March 20th, 2020 - Boeing, Boeing, Boeing

This is a sad example how the lack of standard engineering documentation alone has virtually taken Boeing down.

These are just a few of the Boeing Headlines!

Boeing Employee: 737 Max Is ‘Designed by Clowns…
Supervised by Monkeys’

New KC-46A tankers unable to fly refueling missions

Boeing submits initial plan for resolving 737 Max wiring concerns

There are few times in your life when you can say "Good God, I could have done a better job than the CEO of Boeing!

But I can say that easily. At the turn of the century Boeing turned its engineering department over to Dassault to manage it with its Catia 5 PLM. Dassault put its PLM gurus along with Boeing InfoTechs in charge of  engineering. The focus was move to "Product Lifecycle Management" where engineering was just part of an overall process, no more important than "data management" which replaced a functional "Standardized Documentation Control" group. Sadly, these IT experts had no idea of the relative importance's of a huge manufacturing firm like Boeing and started trying to micromanage all aspects.

In all Manufacturing Companies
Engineering Documentation Drives the Show!

These PLM Gurus were now in charge of all engineering and manufacturing. You would think that these folks would look to the past process and modify it as necessary. Boeing had been in 3D CAD since the early 1980s. I was there! So we are talking about almost 20 years of CAD implementation prior to the PLM fiasco!

They decided to reinvent the wheel with virtually no engineering, drafting or manufacturing experience. Every process was a new idea, based on how an InfoTech thought it should work.

Chaos is always the result of trying to reinvent a wheel in a place where the wheel is already very well defined.

Product knowledge, proven standards and work force continuity is the formula for design success.

Can Engineering Survive without the Drafting Group?

Boeing was one of the greatest manufacturing firms on the planet. They wrote the book on the standard processes on how commercial airplanes were built. The complete aerospace industry copied them. At Learjet they even used copies of Boeing standards.

Boeing InfoTechs (ITs) made failed decision after failed decision. One was to eliminate the complete Drafting Group and Document Control. Drafting was responsible for the making sure the engineering documentation was concise, complete and unambiguous. Drafting was actually Boeing InfoTech's only critic. It took them 20 years to eliminate them. With them out of the way the CIO had total control. He had more power than the CEO.

He who controls the software controls the world

But in the PLM guru's mind any one could do the drafting and documentation. So they gave it to the engineers who never even made a drawing before. The draftsman were renamed "Engineering Techs" and let go by attrition. Soon we were left with no one that was responsible for the most important purpose of engineering!

 Engineering documentation is engineering's language to the world.

Engineering only purpose is to make available concise, complete and unambiguous documentation to manufacturing!

So could have I done a better job as Boeing CEO? Of course, engineering would have never been a second tier department. It would have stayed in control and delivered high quality documentation. With engineering in charge planes would not be falling out of the sky and projects would be completed in a timely manner. InfoTech would have never achieved such a level of power and stayed in a support position. 

Boeing’s New CEO Regrets Blasting Predecessor
as Backlash Grows

I have to make my comments separate on this head line. The new Boeing CEO is a Accountant! Not an engineer. In fact, not one of the Boeing board members have any engineering experience! How can that be? Boeing designs commercial airplanes that carry millions of passengers and defense systems that protect America and not one is an engineer?

Experts question whether Boeing’s board of directors is capable of righting the company

In engineering we rarely assign blame. Engineering is infinite and errors will be made. Every engineer and draftsman have made mistakes. We go back review the problem and fix it. The current CEO that has no understanding of the nature of engineering. I have 55 years! Engineering is a collaborating group. As a draftman I have supported many MEs (Mechanical Engineers). We would never let even the most arrogant of MEs fail. As draftsman we were worker bees we had very little path to management. If draftsmen had PHDs, the engineering world would be much more effective, since the focus would on engineering documentation.

Recommendations to the New CEO of Boeing

1.  Eliminate Dassault’s Catia 5 PLM and MBE

2.  Eliminate the CIO Position

3.  Put Engineering back in Charge of Engineering

4.  Re-implement the Engineering Standard
and Document Control Processes of the Past

5.  Bring Back the Drafting Group

Dassault Catia 5 PLM has destroyed Boeing engineering! The cost to the industry is in Billions if not Trillions. PLM alone has taken down one of the greatest manufacturing companies. I do not think there is enough applicable knowledge to right this situation.

Headline 10/18/19

Boeing executives reportedly rejected a safety system
 in the 737 Max because it was too expensive

US committee seeks to interview Boeing engineer
on safety of the 737 Max

Boeing CEO Stripped of Chairman Title Amid 737 Max Troubles

As you can see the saga continues. I noticed that Dennis Muilenburg's experience was not in the commercial division. I will not speculate on his lack of understanding that they have millions of people's lives depending on their management decisions. Engineering has always had the final say on any design approvals, they put their signatures on all of the documentation. Again, I will reiterate, the documentation is always the final check on the quality of the design process.

This is not the only project that is a problem for Boeing.

Boeing’s troubled refueling tanker risks
falling behind by four more year

If you do not have a functional checking process

 in place you are playing Russian Roulette!

Headline 4-21-19

Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified
the suspect 737 MAX flight control system

Engineering's total purpose is to make available concise, complete and
unambiguous documentation to manufacturing.

This is the first Boeing Airplane designed without draftsman. Today, Boeing requires a BSME to be a designer. The problem is that drafting was the watchdogs of the design and documentation. They checked all of the documentation for errors or even a better design. Today, engineers are not trained in documentation creation and checking. There is no defined checker in the group and checking is not part of the document release process. If there is any checking at all, it is casual peer checking! It looks like many of the steps above were missed!

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

Could this attitude extend into manufacturing?

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

Boeing reportedly let some of its mechanics inspect their own work, and it's causing problems for the manufacturer at the worst possible time

If you do not have a functional checking process
 in place you are playing Russian Roulette!

First headline

Tesla employees say automaker is churning out a
high volume of flawed parts requiring costly rework

On first look you could assume the parts were manufactured incorrectly. That is impossible. One thing manufacturers and companies do is inspect the parts and make sure they match the documentation.

Pre-3D MCAD the drawing was used for two purposes:

  1. Define the part

  2. Inspect the part

Since it could not be badly manufactured parts it can only be poor design. Engineering failed at step 3. I completely define the problem in these three articles.

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

The Death of the Drawing

Educating the New 3D MCAD Engineer

The elimination of the draftsman, the drawing and not preparing the engineer to provide the concise, complete and unambiguous documentation is obviously plaguing the industry.

Product knowledge, proven standards and work force continuity is the formula for design success.

Second Headline

Ford Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles
Because Their Steering Wheels May Fall Off

1.3 million? Again this is due to step 3. Could this happen pre-MCAD? Maybe, but there were engineers, design draftsman, draftsman and checkers with years and years of experience that were reviewing the drawing? Today, engineering management is completely oblivious to the the need to have a thorough check of the design and documentation or they are purposely playing Russian Roulette betting that that things will go okay? The real reason: They are depending on the minimized process defined by PLM and the MBE system to assure the correctness of the design. Hello, Mr. Murphy!

Note: Pre 3D MCAD the drawing was the design!

Can the 3D Model Be Used as the Design Authority?



Third Headline

Florida bridge collapse leaves at least 6 people dead

Looks like step 7 was ignored. You cannot short cut any of these steps.

As a young draftsman we were thrown into a group of high experienced draftsman that took us under their wings, helping us do learn our profession. As we grew more experienced we also continued that tradition. Boeing would throw the new engineers into the Drafting Group for a year to learn form, fit and function design, drafting and detailing. Trust me, these kids are not engineers when they graduate from college, they truly have no clue about the engineering process and where they fit.

Do young engineers walk into a room of experience engineers, today? Or do they get put in a cubical in front of the CAD system and told "Get to work"?

Educating the New 3D CAD Engineer

The first thing a young draftsman was told is Murphy's Law.

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".

As we created our drawings and they were checked we would not only gain the knowledge of creating concise, complete and unambiguous documentation but we would increase the knowledge of the design of the product. Soon we would become design draftsman and one consideration of our design was to:

"Murphy Proof It!"

You would make sure it could only be installed one way. I have 54 years of design experience and have over looked this a few times. It is when a customer calls and says "the part doesn't fit". You bring up the CAD files and see that they have installed it backward. Of course, you make it their error. But you know who made the error.

Forth Headline

Boeing 787 being converted to VIP jet
has unusual accident at Moses Lake airfield

The landing gear collapsed?? Really?

Again we have to review the engineering process. The 787 had many new technologies used in the creation of this airplane.

  1. The introduction of a new the Catia 5 3D MCAD system

  2. The introduction of Catia 5 PLM

  3. The introduction MBE

  4. Extensive use of carbon fiber.

  5. Limit use of draftsman

  6. Multiple offsite manufacturing

Now I am sure there were a few more. By the way this was 787 number 11.

Before 3D CAD we would have problems with parts not fitting. In aircraft manufacturing these were handled by Liaison engineers on the assembly line. The would find a problem and do a temporary fix and create a rejection tag defining that fix.

Let me give you an examples.

I was under contract to Gates Learjet in Tucson.


We got a rejection tag defining a problem with installing a fairlead. This was a phenolic block that would protect the control cable from hitting the clearance holes in the frames.

Fix: An alligator grommet around the hole. Hmm wonder it those planes are still flying, that fix was used until a permanent revision was released. Remember these fixes were to keep the line moving.

I investigated the problem. Remember form, fit and function design, drafting and detailing, investigation and revisions were the job of the draftsman.

The problem was they did not understand the drawing. It was complete and, in my opinion, clear. What was missed here Step 2. I drew up an ADCN (Advance Drawing Change Notice) clearing up the documentation.

Today many large companies have moved to MBE (Model Based Enterprise), this is where the 3D model becomes the authority. This really only affects CNC parts.

Can the 3D Model Be Used as the Design Authority?

Now you have to change the model directly to affect any change adding weeks if not months to do a simple change. It has to go through another complete release cycle. Is there a thorough check to assure the complex history on the model has not changed? Do they completely document the change? There are so many places where this system can go wrong.

How much waste can this create? Is there a system to stop existing incorrect parts from being made? I think not! I wonder how many titanium parts are scrapped.

Tesla just gets a lot of attention, badly designed parts have been a part of engineering from the very beginning. But you would think on a mature assembly line these incorrect parts would have been discovered.

So there you go. Four problems that violated the engineering process. The tighter, simpler and standard the process the less "Rejection Tags" or God forbid "Deaths".

You cannot short cut engineering. But that is what is happening today. Engineering management is not in charge of engineering, drafting used to support engineering management and management trusted the released engineering was correct.

Today, they depend on PLM and the CAD vendor to manage engineering top down. Engineering costs are soaring! Without a good established checking process errors are also soaring. These people do not have the ability to differentiate between relative importance's that are so critical in engineering.

It really is time to review the current engineering process. Now the smaller companies have not moved to the PLM and MBE system. It is very costly to implement and maintain. They are still using the proven standard engineering process, and quite successfully.

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