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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(03):28-30. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAR-1.
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This article highlights that companies find that “product lifecycle management” can mean steering through the regulatory tangle of their business. The automotive industry is particularly affected by changing legislation, because many automakers are now working to ensure that their vehicles comply with the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive passed by the European Union in 2000. The End-of-Life Vehicle Directive is only one of the rules and regulations in Europe. The EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive set environmental targets for the amount of hazardous materials that can be contained in electrical and electronic equipment. Sometimes an engineer can’t simply call up a CAD file for a part, because the company gets that part from a supplier and incorporates it into the final product. In these cases, it's vital to ensure that those parts meet vital standards. Ensuring that engineering products meet the plethora of existing codes and laws is a perplexing and complex task that is only going to get harder.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(03):32-35. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAR-2.
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This article discusses that the business of engineering has challenges of its own. Engineer-to-order (ETO) differs from make-to-stock or make-to-order businesses primarily in the amount of designing that takes place after a firm receives an order. For either of the two make-to systems, post-order engineering is insignificant. ETO firms depend heavily on engineers and designers inside the order cycle because the machine has to be imagined, then designed and detailed, before it can be built. Handling specialty is a typical ETO manufacturer. It builds lifting and turning equipment used by everyone from automakers in Toronto to stage builders in Las Vegas. Although it makes equipment mostly of a particular kind, no two orders are exactly alike. In order to make a transition from entrepreneurial, family-owned firms to professional ones, ETO companies need to make business information available to employees throughout their organizations.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(03):36-40. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAR-3.
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This article highlights China’s unusual combination of low wages, modern technology, and an enormous potential of internal market. It is easy to see that labor and materials costs are cheaper in China, but it is harder to pin down the costs of stolen intellectual property, complex supply chains, inflexible manufacturing schedules, and project management overhead. Low-cost labor and high-tech manufacturing have made China the leading destination for companies looking to cut costs by outsourcing production. China’s combination of low labor costs and modern technology-aided by lax intellectual property enforcement makes it a manufacturing powerhouse. It’s increasingly prosperous internal market enables efficiencies of scale. It takes time and commitment to make Chinese manufacturing relationships work. In some cases, they may not work at all. As companies learn the hidden costs of outsourcing, they may find it does not yield the promised savings. This is especially true for products that require customization, proprietary technology, or quicker reaction to market trends.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(03):42-44. doi:10.1115/1.2005-MAR-4.
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This article focuses on engineering professionals, who started to see themselves as agents of change for the better with the start of the 20th century. A machine-tool boom ensued during the early years of the 20th century, as mechanical engineers brought their inventive skills to bear on precision machinery that cut and ground metal, pressed steel, and automated assembly tasks. At a time when engineering analysis was an imperfect science, Frederick Taylor performed exhaustive tests on engine lathes and diligently recorded data on stresses and other capacities. Taylor promoted the establishment of central planning departments to administer the standards and schedule workloads. The principle of scientific management systematized production, in the process radically changing the relationship between employer and employee. Today, ASME impresses upon engineers the need to embrace their sense of public worth, and understand that their work contributes to the greater social good.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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