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Want To Be A Boy Racer?

In the UK, late on many evenings if you go to a large supermarket, you will see them in the car park. Boy racers gathered with their friends, showing off their cars. I remember my early cars, old rusty death traps which, nonetheless, I was proud of, even though they frequently left me standing at the side of the road….in the rain….  I wish that I’d had the skills and confidence to be able to enhance the performance of my cars as the boy racers of today are doing with theirs, though I guess these days I am compelled to add that I am in no way condoning unsafe vehicle modifications or violations of highway code….

Shopping in the back of the car, on the way home, we come up to a red light. Coming up alongside is a boy racer. The noise as he approached was a sure giveaway. If I had missed that, then there was always the smell of burning oil and under combusted petrol. Trying not to be obvious, I look across; the guy is excited, waiting for the amber, and gets it. Off he goes; lots of noise and smoke.

Though the car I drive today is not a Ferrari, it has decent performance, is safe and comfortable. I know the performance of my car, and have confidence with it. I feel as though there is little for me to prove. Sure, I could have taken the bait, put my foot down on the amber light and humiliate this guy. It would have taken very little skill or effort on my part, but I just don’t feel the need. Let these guys have their fun.

The same can be said for software. There have been so many tools coming into use, either home-grown, some “free” tools from the internet, generic commercial packages or those supplied with and restricted to a hardware platform, that all show off their functionality, with endless claims and comparisons, highlighting all of the slight differences they have found as they compare themselves with similar packages. It is like supermarkets advertising their “loss leaders”, tempting people into the stores with a showing of a differentiator, which may or may not be representative of the entire offering.

Whether I was a PCB designer, fabricator or assembler, I think that I would prefer to have the software that was created for performance, safety, and ease of use from the ground-up, understanding my  personal needs in the role that I was performing, but also how my work relates and depends on others in my team, and as a part of the business as a whole.  From design to manufacturing, there are several key specialist engineering processes that need to work together as part of the new product introduction flow, on through the materials supply chain, and supporting production to the point of shipping.  I would not be comfortable using “boy racer” software at each stage, that superficially ticked boxes and makes a lot of noise and smoke. Extensive, deep technical and clever features need to be there, but on top of that, the key differentiators are more linked to business processes, founded firmly in continuous returns on investment to the business.

In China, it is now the year of the horse. Perhaps we should think of this in the modern age as being the year of the horse-power. Best to get some software in that will get you from A to B fast, safely, on time, and on budget, with quality assured. The Valor range of manufacturing software.

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About Michael Ford

Michael FordMICHAEL FORD SENIOR MARKETING DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, VALOR DIVISION, MENTOR GRAPHICS Michael started his career as a computer software and hardware engineer in 1982. Working for Sony in the UK, Michael became one of the first successful adopters of computer technology into the manufacturing shop-floor, going on to manage in Japan Sony’s global Lean Manufacturing solutions. Joining Valor Computerized Systems in 2008 gave Michael the opportunity to apply his experience into the main-stream of the industry. With almost 30 years’ experience, Michael’s key strength is the instinct of finding solutions and opportunities where there had been challenges and problems. Michael is currently working as part of the Marketing Development team within the Valor Division of Mentor Graphics, focussing on the realisation of real and practical solutions for manufacturing based on the application of Lean Thinking, end to end, from design through the entire manufacturing process. Visit The Michael Ford Manufacturing Blog

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