& Industrial Programming
Witness & Legal Work
You Need Advice
the Right Service Level
Planning and Exit Strategies
ABOUT J TARPOFF
Guarantees on Results
/ Quality Stds
Case Studies, News
Glossary of Site
Case Studies, and Viewpoints for Technical Professionals
Modeling: Which Program is Best?
by JM Tarpoff, PE, President
Parametric solid modeling programs such as UG, ProE, Ideas, SolidWorks,
Solid Edge, Inventor, Alibre and others are here to stay. But, which one
is the right one for your organization?
Parametric CAD programs began in the late '80s with Pro Engineer. They
map component surfaces in such a way as to preserve the shape of the solid
and allow "slicing", "milling", "boring",
"extruding" and other manufacturing-type operations to be performed
during the CAD drawing/design phase. They have revolutionized drafting
into more of a design profession.
Most companies look at the special features that each of the solid modeling
programs allow and compare them to those required in their business. For
example, companies designing sheet metal parts and assemblies usually
want the most capable sheet metal solid modeling package. Companies designing
unusual surface shapes, as is required in the aerospace industry, prefer
packages like Catia, the industry leader for drawing splined surfaces.
Industries having assemblies made of hundreds of Commercial Off-The-Shelf
(COTS) parts as well as specialized parts require advanced configuration
management control. Motion analysis and animation can be very important
Cost is important, too. Software provider responsiveness to known and
discovered deficiencies is important. Associated training costs and the
availability of CAD designers familiar with the software can also effect
the overall cost of the decision.
Nearly all of the solid modeling programs port into popular Finite Element
Analysis (FEA) tools. Most drawing formats can be ported into different
solid modeling programs, as well. So, cost and functionality are the key
aspects to be reconciled.
Most manufacturing companies in our region have used UG for many years.
Recently, less expensive yet functionally comparable programs such as
SolidWorks and Solid Edge have gained market share.
The best advice is to obtain short term (30 day) licenses and put each
of the programs through a design process typical of your company. Compare
the performances, software company assistance and cost. Then enjoy the
confidence of your decision.
Trends in Employment
by JM Tarpoff, PE, President
According to recent industry trade publications, the staffing industry
is growing by 3% per year on average (prior to the 2000 recession) with
segments such as the IT and medical staffing growing at 6%+ per year.
This shows companies are using technical staffers and engineering firms
to fill more employment openings.
With trends like these you, the candidate, can be prepared in several
First, understand what it means to you:
Companies are increasingly using technical outsourcers to perform
recruiting functions for them. This means that many good jobs are
going to candidates who are "tried out" as temporary employees
before being hired directly.
Assignments may be short-term and not immediately lead to full-time
direct employment with the customer especially in the IT profession.
Whenever a field, in this case IT, changes rapidly requiring personnel
with cutting-edge skills, contract labor flourishes. Couple that with
short-term jobs like updating a specific feature of a software program
and you'll have a recipe for contract staffing. Make the most of it by
learning as many different hardware and software platforms as possible
until the right long-term direct position opens for you.
Learn to climb the "learning curve" rapidly on every
assignment. Do what it takes, including spending your own time learning
the customer's relevant operations, to be productive as soon as possible.
Career training on your initiative must be considered ongoing
in order to prepare for changes in your employment situation. If there
are areas of expertise you would like to acquire, take the initiative
to enroll in classes or arrange temporary "broadening" assignments
with your current employer in other fields or closely related areas to
your current field. If you feel like you are falling behind in your knoweledge,
you probably need to work at staying up-to-date.
Second, understand what this means to your customer:
Temporary staff allows companies to measure productivity better
and to make smarter hiring decisions. Each piece of the organization
is being analyzed for efficiency including how the pieces contribute to
overhead. Successful managers have the highest productivity numbers, meaning
larger amounts of work are done with fewer manhours. Cost measures really
All this adds up to a shift in employment that I call Just-In-Time Employment.
The best defense is to stay on top of the new developments in your in
field, maintain a continuous training and professional development regiment,
and to constantly strive for the highest level of productivity.
Slowdown: When Will It End?
by JM Tarpoff, PE, President
A few factors to predict economic recovery:
- Reduction in
Excess Manufacturing Capacity in dominant/large industries such as food
processing, chemicals, autos and aerospace
During the past 6-7 years, equipment used to manufacture everything
from food and pharmaceuticals, chemicals and metals, autos and airplanes
plus many others has been re-designed replaced or otherwise improved
to such an extent that excess production capacity exists. Until these
machines are worn out and taken out of service, companies will not be
inclined to re-design and manufacture new ones. And to make matters
worse, as demand for products made by the machines lessens, operating
units will be side-lined until manufacturing output increases.
Excess machine capacity appears to be the largest contributor to the
continuing recession. It will take time to use up this capacity. As
companies continue to purchase manufacturing machines made for less
money over-seas, more time is required to reach a new balance of manufacturing
equipment capacity. Additionally, when the price for American designed
and built machines becomes equal to what over-seas companies produce,
business will return to domestic designers.
Excess equipment capacity can be calculated for each industry. The airline
industry will probably see recovery in early 2005. Equipment for most
of the food industry should see recovery in early 2004. The automotive
industry is just beginning its downturn.
- Small Inventories
For the past 20 years, most companies have practiced Just-In-Time
inventory control maintaining very small inventories of raw materials
and finished product at all times. This is a positive force because
smaller inventories will help us move out of the recession quicker when
orders are placed.
- Renewed Buying
of Technology (Tech Buying) to improve R&D projects, to improve
manufacturing efficiency, to improve telecommunications systems, to
improve various service provider efficincies, and to outpace global
competitors in all industries
Virtually all businesses that I work with have upgraded software
and computing hardware within the last 3-4 years. Because various computing
platforms have converged to basically two standards, software can be
ported to faster machines without re-purchasing new editions or entirely
new packages. This saves large sums of money normally spent on software
and reduces the need for programmers and hardware specialists. In addition,
tremendous leaps in computing power have reduced the need for new hardware
purchases. Once again, we have over capacity that will need to be exhausted
before new purchases are made. I predict that we will need to begin
replacing software and hardware roughly mid 2004.
Dramatic improvements in manufacturing efficiencies have enabled manufacturers
to slowdown or speed-up production rates on demand. Today, multiple
machine speeds exist reducing the need for new equipment to meet increased
demand. With the advent of Lean Manufacturing Principles and Six Sigma
Programs all the largest manufacturing efficiency improvements have
been realized. Obtaining the smaller steps to manufacturing improvements
will be more difficult and more costly making it easier to suspend capital
spending for efficiency improvements. When product demand improves,
spending for machine improvements will pick-up. Manufacturing efficiency
improvements should be an on-going business practice, however, when
factories experience slowdowns there is less interest in efficiency
gains. Demand for factory output will need to increase. I believe this
will largely depend on how competitive domestic producers are in relation
to foreign producers of the same products. As the standard of living
rises and thus the cost of doing business increases in foreign countries,
production costs will tend to equalize with domestic producers bringing
a return to domestic business. This process could take ten years or
R&D projects are driven by market "confidence" or demand
"psychology" as incentive to sell new concepts or technological
advances. Smart companies always try to continuously fund R&D, however,
most companies reduce spending when they see little or no demand from
customers for new product variations or improvements. R&D spending
usually picks up when companies get nervous about looking the same as
their competition. I look for R&D spending to increase about one
year before existing product demand begins to show improvement. Prediction:
- Ability of Businesses
to Acquire Investor Capital for New Product Developments
Investment capital has been there for large and medium sized businesses
throughout the 90's. It has been somewhat limited for unproven businesses
or those perceived to have riskier business plans. With interest rates
low, investment should pick up when businesses decide to ask for it.
The capital is there for good ideas.
- Psychology of
Business Leaders and Business and Individual Consumers (Openess of Businesses
to Take New Development Risks and the Willingness of Consumers to Purchase
New Products Developed to Their Specifications)
This is "confidence" sometimes called consumer confidence
and business confidence. "Market psychology" is how people
feel about being able to sell new products and new technology as well
as their ability to pay for new purchases. I believe the American market
is driven by a sort of "restlessness" and impatience with
the status quo or desire to make something happen. We probably can stand
the inactivity of a recession no longer than two years before we feel
that we "must do something".
- Government Spending
on Infrastructure Development (Roads, Bridges, Utilities, Education,
Technology to Increase Efficiency) vs. Spending on Non-Value Added and
Non-Investment Related Functions
Assuming spending equals tax revenues, one can easily see that if more
money is spent on projects that enable investment and growth the more
the residents of the community will benefit from that future growth
when it happens. If too much money is spent on projects that don't lead
to real improvements to communities such as in quality education for
residents and programs to draw businesses that employ the residents,
then tax revenues are wasted. It's that simple.
Because most state and local governments have balanced budgets AND because
most elected officials know that employment and viable business presence
keeps residents from moving to other states and cities, I think we are
fairly safe that our tax dollars are not contributing to the recession
and will not get us out of the recession at least on the local and state
Overall, since late
2000, I have predicted the recession would begin to end in October 2003.
Barring set-backs in "market confidence", I think we are on
Professional Unemployment Rates
Overall reported unemployment
stands at 5.9% for November.
to a report published in the Wall Street Journal in the first of December
2003 more than 9 million people classify themselves as independent consultants
and roughly .5 million people found new employers.
According to another
report published in the Wall Street Journal in early March 2003, the Labor
Department has measured managerial unemployment to be 8.9% on average
across the nation even though the reported rate accoss all occupations
was 5.8%. 8.9% accounts for all white collar professionals including technical
professionals classified as "exempt" from the Federal Labor
laws collecting unemployment insurance and therefore being counted. Because
some people are still unemployed or underemployed and are no longer being
counted by the labor department or never were counted as is the case with
graduating students, the professional unemployment rate is actually closer
And only 40-50% of
new engineering graduates from good engineering schools having co-operative
education programs are receiving job offers. The number is 30-40% for
engineering graduates from good schools not having co-operative education
or work-study programs.
So...our best advice
for landing a new position in your field is to utilize every resource
at your disposal...including registering with technical staffing and engineering
and IT consultants.