A post about things, which is actually about people

Shiny, shiny, well, actually sort of satin black

When I cook, I start by chopping vegetables. And what with being a materials sci geek, there’s only one kind of knife for me, the Kyocera ceramic ones. The white ones that look like plastic, until people cut themselves. And I have one, bought it in Japan, so 7 years old, never sharpened it, still frighteningly sharp. So I was most upset when a flatmate, who is lovely, but just a little clumsy with her hands, managed to break the tip off it.

So what did tieke bring back from her stilting trip to Hong Kong? I mean, aside from the Hello Kitty instant noodles? Yes:

Yes. And the more observant amongst you will notice that its black, not white. This is one of the hot isostatic pressed ones, which are even better.

Reasons to upgrade, also 10,000 people lose their jobs

Airbus is cutting 10,000 jobs. They only employ 50,000. Why the cuts? Coz of delays in making their A380 superjumbo. Why is it delayed? Apparently, coz the wiring has problems. What are these problems? Apparently, parts designed and built in one country don’t fit with parts designed and built in another country. But surely, in this information age, where information technology breaks down barriers and helps us all speak, work and think in harmony, surely a trivial problem like this should be solved in a flash?

Well, it seems there’s a problem with their software. The engineers amongst us will have heard of AutoCAD, which is the standard CAD software that engineers use to draw in 3D and design everything they make. Airbus doesn’t use that. They use Catia, from Dassault. Imagine if AutoCAD (which costs something like $7000) was MS Paint. Catia is Photoshop. It costs silly money. Catia isn’t just a design package, it’ll tell you if you’ve made it too weak, where you’ve made it too strong, hell, probably even what colours would look best depending on whether you’re designing something to go outdoors or in.

And yes, engineers in one country where using Catia version 4. Engineers in another, version 5. Airbus decided that upgrading, and retraining, was too expensive. The cost of delays to production are estimated at nearly ten billion dollars.


14 thoughts on “A post about things, which is actually about people”

  1. It doesn look like a nice knife.

    On the subject of CATIA, it is very widely used in the aircraft industry in general, and oddly enough, here in the US gets a lot of credit for parts made in different states and even different continents “just fitting together” when joined, on the F-22, F-35, and 787 programs. One of the few images leaked from the B-2 promotional film before the project went white was of the CATIA design lab at Northrop. But then again, maybe here in the US we’re using a later version.

    Or maybe it just shows the old saw about a word processor not making the user a great writer, and a digital camera not making the user a great photographer.

    1. Yeah, it surprises me that the US military is so dependent upon a French product, especially when there’s plenty of US alternatives, Unigraphics, Pro/Engineer and the like. And especially when Unigraphics is owned by EDS, who seem to get contracts purely by having good political connections.

  2. The ultimate bean-counter boo-boo, eh?

    Can’t afford to spend US$120,000,000 to ensure that two software packages work together, so we drop US$10,000,000,000 down the sewer, not to mention laying off 10,000 folk as well, and possibly send the whole outfit to the wall.

    I wonder what happened to the guy that made the final call on that decision? I hope he’s one of the 10,000, but in all likelihood he’ll still have his job because “he’s too valuable to the company” – yeah right!

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