Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality Of Life And Quality In General?
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Does CAD/CAM Technology Diminish Quality Of Life And Quality In General?

What? you say, well its not really just CAD/CAM technology its just about all hi-tech technology. I relate to CAD/CAM since that’s the environment I live every day. For younger generation this is the world you have grown accustomed to but for a few of us older generation ( 40+, so not that old) that have spent some time on an actual drafting table with pencil and paper can probably relate a little better.

To provide a brief summary of why I chose such a topic is because I used to have a month to do 3 weeks worth of work and now I have a week to do 3 months of work thanks to technology and for the most part its still the amount of workload.

In all honestly, it’s not all technologies fault, most of the blame resides on the failure for business associates to fully grasp that using CAD is not that much faster then pen and paper initially. Its power comes in downstream and in changes. So in most cases it does still require a fair amount of work to get to the job done. But somewhere along the line this has never really been conveyed properly into the customer’s mindset. Most still think “CAD, so I’ll have this next week, right?”

The problem being is that if you push yourself and your CAD system it just may be achievable in that timeframe whereas with pen/paper it was definitely unachievable. So you say OK (knowing if you don’t someone else will) and stay the extra few hours a night and maybe even put some extra time in on the weekends. And Walla, you client comes back and is making changes and doesn’t really appreciate the sacrifice you have made to make his delivery date. And so the cycle begins. And what a vicious cycle it is now that global resources have pushed tighter deadlines to the Nth degree.

So you eat dinner later (and alone) so you get fatter (and slower making it even harder to meet deadlines) you grasp glimpses of your children grow before you. You miss family gatherings, funerals, and depriving your family even more.

It reminds me of the song “Cats in the cradle” by the late Harry Chapin.

The above comments come from the view as a free-lance designer. I’m sure the employed designer and engineer can relate as well since I see many colleagues in the same predicament. The problem is actually worse for them because they have to play within the corporate guidelines with such technology as ERP, PLM, etc…

One day I was in the elevator going to work, the landlord felt is was time to renovate the building and give a major facelift. Price was no object, the best marble floors the finest woods, paints, and wall paper, you name it. Great! It would be nice to at least come to a place where I spend most of my time that has a nice atmosphere. After all I’m here more than home. So there I am in the elevator that has just been finished being renovated the day before. What do I see, screws missing on the control panel, panels that don’t line up, buttons with symbols upside down and holes for handles that don’t line up well so the screws are put in at such a drastic angle its downright dangerous where you can get a severe cut from the chewed up screw heads. I think to myself, who the heck designed these parts to fit in here and why didn’t the “skilled” worker notify anyone of the problems. I suspect he doesn’t care anyway.

So when I went to get my lunch that day I decide to take the elevator down that had not been renovated yet. Here’s an elevator that was built roughly 30 years ago so in the mid 1970’s not exactly the height of craftsmanship as our grandfathers age but maybe the height of marijuana. What did I find that I and failed to notice until now. Well all the screws in the control are still there and actually straight. Although the buttons very dirty and worn all the symbols were still there and orientated properly. All the sheet metal panels line up perfectly, you could run a small ball bearing along the mating edges (just like the car commercial). In the new elevator I wouldn’t give it an inch before the ball fell off track.

So what my conclusion that I derived at from this simple observation. Well, as with anything I’m sure there are several roads that could lead to the poor quality of the new elevator. I assume that the union workers are consciences and master craftsman just to take that out of the equation. So that brings me back to thee design department where there is the engineer hunched over a CAD system putting in his 16th hour for the day and on his 5th cup of coffee trying to rush there this particular panel design so it gets to the manufacture by tomorrow. By the way he needs to get at least two more completed tonight before he goes home to see his family sleeping. “DONE!!” he exclaims with a tired glee around 11pm, He hits the send button on his email and off to manufacturing. He has plenty of things to start on in the morning.

Hey, wait, what’s missing from this picture…… no drawing checker (is the position still in existence these days, I don’t even know). Ah, yes he did it in cad and did some quick interference checks and done. That’s right it’s done in CAD so it must be right. I guess this explains why NASA success rating is lower today then in 1970.

This article could really go on and on, but I will stop here to keep t relatively short. And I think most of you can conclude where the story is going anyway. I’m sure you have your own input to add, so please do so.


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