We are in a huge crisis. This is how the situation that happens outside in the world feels now by everybody. While it brings an unprecedented amount of disruption and uncertainty, it is also a “perfect storm” that should help us to see better, push us to find better solutions and to realize the source of our weakness and vulnerability.
In the past week, I’ve seen a large amount of discussion about medical equipment and protective tools. And it touched my nerve, as it brings me exactly to the point of product development, innovation and efficiency.
The examples of WWII may be too distant from a modern world but can show how factories were changing their product development profiles and switched to new production. Ford Motors’ example is only one of them. Industrial companies in the Soviet Union were moving thousands of kilometers from there original locations from Ukraine to the Ural and started steel and other manufacturing production in unroofed buildings during the wintertime. Here is only one example of T-34 development, but there are many others.
Martin Day of DEVELOP3D published the following on his LinkedIn.
On Monday, UK Gov put out an insanely bare-bones specification for UK manufacturers, as it only has 5k ventilators. There are now 3 consortia in the UK, led by Meggitt (produces oxygen systems for aircraft), Nissan (auto) and McLaren (auto), attempting to design, manufacture & test a designs to try & produce thousands of basic ventilators in the next months, aiming for 30,000 devices. Existing ventilator manufacturers like Breas has gone into 7 day working and there is another consortia looking to modify more easily available oxygen machines. Obviously, if you have contacts at these firms and can help any of these teams in anyway, now is the time. If a blueprint reference design can be created, it could also be shared around the world. Engineers, let’s science the shit out of this!
A completely different example of Gustavo Fontana showing how to build protective shields for medical workers. Check it out here.
Few data point Gustavo brings in his video and messages
I went to my in-construction shop at home. I don’t have a lot of tools here yet, but that’s part of the point: Can we design something that anyone can make, easily and quickly with off-the-shelf part and not specialized skills? Even buying all at retail, material costs it’s under $2 a shield. And one person can build probably 30-40 shields an hour?
Product design and development innovation will be in high demand these days. How to bring products faster and cheaper? It can save lives. And how to work remotely with other people at the same time? It will bring a huge push for tools that can support remote work. I will have to cover it in my next article.
What is my conclusion?
Crisis time increases the demand for innovation. It will come on all levels – engineers, designers, manufacturing shops and large manufacturing OEMs. The ideas, tools, and collaboration between people can make a difference. As much as things can look gloomy today, it is not the end of the world. Crisis brings new ideas and to push us to change the world . Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.