Like every other industry, mechanical equipment design & research industry also has seen flair of automation with the advent of CAD. However, it is feared that this will adversely affect the jobs of design engineer which obviously is the conclusion made without detailed study of impacts that CAD has.
Lately, there has been tremendous propagation of the fact that automation is attacking engineers' jobs, and that it shall cause companies to lay off employees in masses. However, it is only true in some aspects; especially for unskilled workers non-susceptible to digitalization. For CAD design engineer and fabricator, technology advancement has in fact enhanced their relationship by refining their interrelated processes.
This brings us to have a closer look at the impacts of automation that technology has brought about in the field of designing and product development. Sufficing the entire notion of automation and its impact on design engineer, here are some key areas where their job roles are taking a new curve.
Enables quick decisions and generate dedicated work force
Technology is known to ease and fasten the process. So, it goes without saying that design automation with CAD has streamlined and made the supply chain smoother right from design concept evolution to market the product. 3D CAD has made the design visualization process - easier, design development - quicker, engineering changer orders - fewer, fabrication information interpretation - simpler, and product marketing with sales catalogues - interactive. Collectively, betterment in all these processes has led the entire supply chain to be more efficient. Further, it made each workman explicitly assigned to his/her task and generate a dedicated workforce.
Authority and autonomy in designs
Automation is justified for the benefits by its ability to increase productivity by the means of having authority and autonomy right from the inception of design tasks. CAD technology gives the autonomy by coordinating the tasks of interrelated people from various disciplines of designs, production and management etc. With an established autonomy comes the authority to monitor the tasks of the workforce involved at the design shop floor, and take keen interest in actual processes they are involved in. However, the authority lies more with the underlying goals that influence the deployment of resources, and technology assists the manager in doing it successfully.
CAD is the most versatile form of designing process available today for the engineers, since it allows seamless design development, removing bottlenecks at the early stages. It essentially helps in developing a single source of truth for all the design data, fabrication information, technical documentation, and thereby manages to keep fabricators and designers well aligned.
Better yet, automation has removed any possibility of designing and reproducing the parts again from scratch. Automation has essentially reduced the time wasted in designing the components and thereby enabled fabricators to bring the products early in the markets.
Concept of employment
Although automation has always caused to disrupt the need of human factor and killed many jobs, it has on the other end created thousands of new ones as well. A straightforward argument to this is, about a century ago, only 1/3rd of the population in the USA was employed in farm. As against to this, today, just 2% of the total employed produce more food than those 1/3rd did, and overall unemployment ratio has tanked sharply since.
This clearly is a result of automation and industrial revolution. Just similar to this, when the designs are automated and digitized, the need of human factor still remains just as crucial as before, as the computers will always lack the intelligence needed for innovation. The input of logic and rules will still work on human brains. The fabrication processes will still need human intervention to set the programs run and fabricators on shop floor to interpret the information within the fabrication drawings.
It is apparent that there is a new force of automation sweeping through the old design world. Automation is disrupting every industry, in every imaginable way. Industries and design engineers need to change themselves to keep up with the world. Although information is available on a technical aspect of automation, answers to public questions and innovations are left unanswered and this is exactly where a CAD design engineer fits in. Navigating in the unknown future with automation, design engineers are the ones who can still benefit in every way one can imagine.