Complicated, intensive engineering may result in an efficient, simple design. Blowing air to control flight instead of using mechanical linkages, and using shrinkage to form a complex shape instead of forceful coercion are elegant solutions. Modern products are typically made more complex, though, with more instrumentation potentially making operation or maintenance more efficient. We need to be careful not just to trade off that efficiency for less self-reliance. Data should increase our understanding, not decrease it. Happy reading.
"Whenever you are dealing with mechanical systems, the most frequent points of failure are in moving parts under stress." To increase reliability, BAE Systems has designed a new flight control system based on supersonically blown air. Taking a step back from the details to review the fundamentals has spurred innovation.
Interesting Engineering, May 2019
What were Industries 1, 2 and 3 again? Real-time vibration monitoring can make maintenance more efficient. However, even with machine learning, interpretation of data is needed to reveal root causes and prescribe appropriate actions. Engineers are still needed in the loop.
IMechE News, June 2019
As software is more tightly integrated into machines such as tractors, it is possible for a manufacturer like John Deere to make its products perform worse over time, like Apple is alleged to have done. Requiring the manufacturer to make any repairs means waiting on its schedule. Should the owner have the right to read the machine's diagnostic data and make repairs instead?
ASME, April 2019
This wood tower was designed to circumnavigate energy-intensive bending techniques. The complicated design calling for intentional shrinkage used computer simulations to predict the twist of components as they dried. In the end, the components were assembled in one day without scaffolding or framework.
Core 77, June 2019