A Big Impact Comes from Details in Engineer Projects

Details in engineer projects

While working in any project, engineers and designers must face smalls tasks that sometimes seem endless, by example selecting or designing rivets and o-ring seals. These “small tasks” can be mind fatiguing, but they are as important as broader tasks such as the idea generation process or conducting literature reviews. Performing detailed tasks of a project, requires engineers to focus in order to guarantee a quality outcome of the part, also, it is necessary to build safer and better products. Normally there are 40,000 rivets in a 747 airplane wing, If the rivet design is selected or installed wrong, the result will be a bad quality wing structure, consequently, the wing will not past the necessary safety standard tests, meaning that a new airplane will be rejected, losing weeks or months of work. The possibility of this rejection must warn engineers to pay attention to the details in any task inside a project because big impacts might come from details in engineer projects. 

Some Historical Examples.

   Usually, as humans we learn from our mistakes, or at least at engineer projects we must, in order to improve designs. The past teaches us the best lessons about everything, and specifically, in engineer projects it teaches us the weakness and failure points inside different designs because of practical and undesired experiences. It is a common practice to create new safety standards after a failure occurred in a project of a certain area, and especially if there is a risk of losing human lives if certain practices continue to be the same. Normally these details that were unknown, become significant in certain contexts as the following  

The Tacoma Bridge, People did not believe wind could tear it down

   Taking a look at the last century, people used to stare to new and big structures and probably will not be of common sense to believe that wind could tear down a big concrete masterpiece. The same way that today no one will see an electronic device and think that a solar wind might damage it, sadly mosts things are learned by experience. 

   Going back to big structures, Tacoma Bridge is a good example of how certain things that might be considered insignificant back then are now safety standards. This bridge was the world’s third longest bridge of its kind by 1940. At the moment it was not a common practice amongst engineers to considerate aerodynamics in bridge constructions, because not bad experience was widely reported prior that year. Sadly for this scenario, omitting this detail led the bridge to collapse due to vibrations induced by wind. After this, it became mandatory to address aerodynamic issues by supporting in wind-tunnel tests the bridge’s designs.  

The Challenger, problems with the O’Rings and communication issues.

   One of the last century’s main attractions in the engineering world -and in civilian life too- was the space race. The space race held by the US and the Soviet Republic led to great advances in the knowledge and technology relate to space, even NASA born thanks to this race in 1958. A space shuttle is an amazing engineer project but is not exempt from mistakes as much as it tries and accidents inside this industry have cost people lives. 

   One particular accident happened because of problems with a small but common part that is well known by engineers, the O-ring seal. These seals failed in their duty to expand leading to a leak that consequently created an explosion killing the complete crew of the space shuttle. One “detail” that led to the loss of human life and wasted a US$$196 million project. 

   For this particular accident, Richard Feynman -the most important investigator of this accident- also found the existence of a problem in the communication team. NASA executives thought that the probability of failure of the shuttle was 1 in 100,000 while the engineering team claimed it was 1 in 100. A clear example of why proper communication details are so important in any project. 

Rubber sealing

Small changes in 3D modeling traditional software might lead to better outcomes. 

   Now that we have reaffirmed why details are so important to pay attention to, we must now wonder how to address them?. Managing a huge amount of information is overwhelming for a human mind, so paying attention to each and every detail is not efficient at all. This means that sometimes you must address the details in the way you perform tasks. By relying on a trustable 3D modeling software such as Solidface you will be relying the attention to some details to the software, leaving your mind free to focus on other important aspects. Some of the details that this software helps to improve are

  1. Avoid creating unnecessary copies that could generate inconsistencies in the different versions of a part that each department handles. By taking advantage of the cloud-based and collaborative technology of Solidface, you will avoid this type of problem.
  2.  The communication problem. As seen in the challenger management of information, the communication issue is an important problem. Relying yourself on the right tools to improve communication is a non-official mandatory to do things in every project. Again, with Solidface collaborative technology you will be able to improve the communication with every member of the project, from executives to suppliers.   

Final Words

  Paying attention to details is necessary to guarantee the quality and safety of a project and by doing this you will also growth yourself a great professional in your industry.  We saw in this review how smalls details could lead to great catastrophes, but at the same time how some of then are just learned by costly experiences. The best practice to implement is to always do your best and pay attention to little things in the path to your goal. Also by remembering that not all details can be addressed at the same time by the human mind, so let rely on the handle of some details to the software like Solidface by just training yourself on how they work and how to use them properly.