Season 1 Episode 6, Jun 02, 2021
Zach Westhoff, Lead Manufacturing Engineer for Powertrain Engineering at Ford Motor Company talks about problem-solving as a life skill, the mysterious formula that is used to design race car tires, his time mentoring New Mexico college racing teams, and his contribution to the F-150 Hybrid truck.
Stage Logic, Hybrid Powertrains, Press fits, Assembly
Intro:[Background music] Pashi presents the Means Of Production, a podcast about what it truly takes to build, maintain, and scale the processes that produce the physical products that power our world. Every episode, we ask a manufacturing expert to walk us through the nuts and bolts of how they do their job. We explore how and why they got into manufacturing, dive deep into the hardest problems they have solved on production lines and discuss their thoughts on what's broken in manufacturing today and how those things can be fixed. This podcast is hosted by Siddhit Sanghavi, Pashi US Manufacturing, Operations lead, and Former Assembly Engineer at Ford Motor Company.
Siddhit: Welcome to season one, episode six of the Means Of Production with me today is my friend and former colleague Zach Westhoff manufacturing engineer for powertrain engineering at Ford motor company, welcome Zach.
Zach: Thank you.
Siddhit: Zach was on my team with powertrain assembly line, design build and commission for delivering on your transmission plant and we had some good times together solving the Ford, 10 speed transmission launch. And I learned a lot from Zack and I saw him work on a lot of stuff and we're going to talk about all that, but before all of that Zack is going to just read out this quick disclaimer.
Zach: Alright, so I work for Ford Motor Company, but this is my own opinion and not the opinion of Ford Motor Company. I want to clarify that I'm not a spokesperson for Ford Motor Company official or otherwise.
Siddhit: Alright Zach, firstly, what is going on with you? How are things in these crazy times, how is your family, how is work, how is everything?
Zach: Yeah, so I'll start with the family, because that's kind of how you rolled it out. My wife, bless her heart. She's just taken a lot of initiative to take on the role of principal, I guess of our household and bless her heart. She's done a good job of taking the kids under her wing, including the education herself. So we're homeschooling our two kids and the five-year-old, Brielle, well going to be five here soon they grow so damn fast and Ari is ten, Brielle five and she's homeschooling them now. And I have to attend work meetings at home and try to take care of business too, as we work from home, sometimes I go into the plant. I mean, it's a big shift from not being there every day to like once or maybe biweekly kind of going in and checking in on stuff that's happening. But the family's doing good. Kids are healthy, I have not contracted COVID for some damn reason. The wife has not contracted either, we've had some close calls, I won't lie. I've been in for testing twice, my wife went in for her first test last week and yeah, we still haven't contracted it. The kids definitely haven't because they're homeschooled, however, they still get to like meet up with a bunch of kids that have had it or have played together with them. Yeah, a lot of people are scared in today's world and I'm not scared at all, in fact from the get go, I was pretty adamant about like, let's just get this. I'd rather just get it and get over with it kind of opinion, because then you build up the antibodies or you die. Right? So like, I wasn't scared from the beginning, in fact going into it, I thought I had it early on back in October, the year before all this started and I really wasn't scared of contracting it. It's like I even stepped up to the plate to start making face masks and launched the two lines for the face mask manufacturing and I wasn't at all affected by it. I didn't end up sitting at home, not doing nothing, I was constantly busy throughout the whole pandemic, it's like nonstop. So that's a good segue like into work, so from there, because I took initiative and took a step up and powertrain just keeps growing, complexities keep growing. There was a need for another lead engineer and one of the other lead engineers wanted to take a step down, it wasn't Maryann, it was Paul. So as Paul stepped down, Marianne took his place down in Sharonville, which opened up a position on phase one and then I got to fully willed that program. So that's taken off with a new derivative of 10 or 100 and that's going to launch later on this year and hopefully we'll be me in her job one day, pretty much a year from now, which is March.
Siddhit: So a lot of things going on and firstly, homeschooling has gained a lot of traction. There is a lot of great points to it, a lot of advantages and yeah, there our opinions for and against the conditions at school or what they teach and what they don't teach. And I think it's up to every family to know what they want and like happens to be the time when you act on whatever you think is best. So it's that kind of a time and yeah, I'd like to also commend your wife and I believe you mentioned her name is Sharon, is that correct?
Zach: Yeah, you didn't get it wrong. You have to get my mistress’ name now [laughs].
Siddhit: [Laughs] Anyway, yeah homeschooling two kids is a full-time job. It's very hard, it's has to be structured in some form at least and there has to be some discipline. So yeah, that's very commendable and also the lead engineer is a big role because at that point you're essentially, not just solve technical problems, but, but to essentially be like the project manager of this whole thing. So again, congratulations and all the best for job won, 10R has been a great product for Ford and that's why it keeps growing, that's why there are so many variants. Let's, move on to even more interesting stuff that you've done Zach, and by that, I mean all the problems.
Zach: Let's, talk a little bit more because as an engineer, your needs really need to concern, essentially not only with non-technical issues. And I see the how the basis of your questions are have a, have a top, a logical approach, you know, about technical and non-technical issues. And I'm just trying to reflect on my thoughts basically aimed on identifying those and I honestly believe that this should be included in some of the educational forms, such that and trying to decipher case in point that, as an engineer you do need to concern yourself with non-technical issues mostly because unlike a scientist essentially, who can work individually, and he generally just has concerned for himself and his lab and his research issues, but where that differs, engineers, so you have to work as a team and as a team, the engineer needs to be actively communicating and that team is usually comprise such as myself as an engineer, somebody who's a technician and a craftsman or skilled trades and essentially engineers have the role of being a coordinator. So pretty much technical, so technical issues, usually we invite as a motivation and as those lie as such motivation with leadership and family issues would definitely come to the engineer as needs to arrests these matters. So as to be effective and efficient, and I think that most useful non-technical skill is the ability to problem solve. It's not technical at all, it should be ingrained as an engineer, problem solving comes first. We were always taught that and such that problem solving uses our logic and analytical thinking, all engineers essentially, you need to be problem solvers and this is technical and not really per se, is people problems, but it usually requires a different approach, such as an engineer, you need to be able to clearly identify and define the problem and quickly think of possible solutions, follow a technique like a step-by-step approach to identify and present evidence and analyze the results that you get choose essentially the best solution. But there are many complex problems, in every engineering role that essentially needs approach like this should be ingrained in everybody. If they're going to take on an engineer role and I've used it many times throughout my career.
Siddhit: That's a super interesting take and the reason it's interesting is firstly, I heard the statement for the first time in the sense that, why are we even calling this technical or non-technical, problem-solving is just like a skill in itself and it's an attitude and it's a way of looking at things. And I'd say that every problem solver may not be an engineer, but every engineer should be a problem solver, is kind of where you're getting at. And that is something that every person should be able to kind of have it in their brain to activate when they face certain things and not be like, oh I can't solve this because I'm not the engineer, I'm the scientist or I'm something else or whatever. So yeah, that's a very good take Zach.
Zach: Take this, for example.
Zach: Number one, I think this should be an absolute requirement, may a state of that, and I think this requirement should go up the hierarchy. I mean all the way, and not be confined to essentially like an engineering position. So let me give you like a real life example, it's not really manufacturing base, but just kind of think of this, it's kind of like a broad scope, right? An engineer in a ship can only be a chief engineer but he can never be a captain.
Siddhit: Right, but the captain needs to be a problem solver as well.
Zach: That's why it needs to go up the hierarchy.
Siddhit: I think that's awesome because sometimes many people who might be at the top of the hierarchy might hire other people who solve problems for them and then maybe that's not right. Maybe they should be on the top because they solve problems, right? That is how it should be and for the most part in many CEOs are like that. But sometimes there are many leaders in many companies who are not like that and that's where I guess it needs to improve. Yeah, that's a great real life example and I like the ship analogy as well, it puts it into perspective, so yeah. Okay, so you've spoken about problem solving, was it something that you just started inculcating in yourself just because of the environment you grew up with or was it your parents, and it kind of segues into the first question, which is how did you get into the field in the first place? And because you mentioned problem solving, I'm interested to know why you became what you became, because it looks like this attitude or this want to be a problem solver has a huge role to play in it and I want to kind of know how this all came about and it's surprising that we ever talked about that.
Zach: Just to clarify, I like to solve problems when it deals with like material things, things that are there. I can't solve psychological problems between like me and any of my ex-girlfriends just to lay that out. But I mean, as far as like how I got into my role, I've always dealt with construction and it was kind of like, I always knew Jesus was a carpenter, for some reason, I felt this urge to work with materials like man-made materials and build things I still do. In fact, I've got this huge desk projects that I'm working on right. Since I'm an engineer and have previous construction knowledge, I'll probably way, way overbuilt it. But yeah, it's ridiculous, man it's this huge, L-shaped live edge desk with like a steel frame underneath of it. I'm going to need a crane to probably rig it into my office.
Siddhit: Oh my God.
Zach: Yeah, it's pretty elaborate. But yeah, let's get on the topic of how I got into my role as a kid, like I was with tinker with things and I always would essentially kind of mess with issues and try to see, this toys not working today, why the hell is it not working, well let's take it apart and figure it out. So at a young age, I always tried to figure out, try to problem solve. And as a young kid, everything becomes a technical problem. The non-technical problems was trying to pacify your mom, screaming at you why you're not eating dinner, when it's ready. There was like an undying urge as a kid just to either blow stuff up or take stuff apart, how's it going to fail?
Siddhit: Right, right.
Zach: Hey, so as I get into that, projects grew, they grew from, you know, slot car tracks to a rubber band guns to slingshots, the elastic cables or the elastic cordage on your slingshot's not working. So my mom's a nurse, so she had tourniquets and fashion things together make a Slingshot, which turned into like a grand old project and you ended up making something that ends up breaking a window eventually, and then you get in trouble for it. That's a non-technical person at that point but yeah, it always grew and I always liked, cutting things, making things so that kind of led to a role of me in an engineering degree per se, by having that grasp of reality. In like 2008, when the economy tanked and you go back to your roots and you try to figure out what am I good at? And you don't have a job you're well, I need to go to college, what the hell am I going to do? I dropped out of high school and didn't know what the heck I was going to do with my life, but at that point I was operating heavy equipment and moving dirt and building houses and doing commercial construction and a light switch flickered on. And I said, well if you're going to aim for the walls, you may as well make it something worthwhile and find something that's going to get you a job on the back end and after you get out of college to at least pay for what you're going to build up and student loan debt. I didn't want to be a doctor, well put it that way because I mean, I could have probably been a surgeon, but going back to my roots as a kid, wanting to blow things up or take things apart, it didn't sound like a good idea.
So the whole doctor role was essentially, no, battlefield doctor maybe. So yeah, I ended up in an engineering degree and I was so enthralled with it and so excited and it just came naturally to me. And a lot of the problems that I had solved in my previous adventures with construction or engineering, I didn't realize I was doing it at the time in construction, but we'd have inspectors, building inspectors and certain codes and reason for those codes and I never really understood why. And as soon as I got that engineering degree and started taking classes on statics and dynamics and physics and differential equations and figuring out fluid power and things grew into quantum and then into heat transfer and it just kept getting deeper and deeper until I think I gave up finally in my college professional, I got to Masters level courses and optimal control and estimation and I realized, I pretty much got the hang of eigen values and vectors, but I never really snapped on to like electronics and controls theory as much. So I suck at programming, I can do it, but I'll be a slow and not efficient at it.
So I pretty much ended up and I graduated with a bachelor's and I wasn't surprised that, I showed such astute quality and, and did such a good job and one of my manufacturing courses that actually, I was hired by the school to work as like an improv professor, really for the onsite prototype shop that we had. So I was teaching, entry level undergrad students, 300 level courses in machine tool technology and why you don't run a late split backwards and teaching them how to measure samples and make things and I ended up helping out on a lot of PhD student projects that dealt with their thesis. And I learned a lot that way too and solar ovens. I did a lot of things in that college that actually kind of made me want to stay, and it was such a good environment and then, after I got hired it also grew into a race car program and I ended up helping out with the students on the FSAE projects and ended up going to multiple competitions where the school was competing with a race car that I essentially helped to build and taught quite a few students how to weld and make certain things that they needed for the race car and try to kind of help them get their independence, instead of depending upon somebody, give them the knowledge to know how to make something. So when they're by themselves or with another colleague at like midnight or one o'clock in the morning, they're safe and they're not doing things wrong or incorrectly. They're not going to get hurt because there were times at two, three in the morning in that race car shop that the university had, they were running the machine tools and tired and caffeinated, or who knows if they went out to eat dinner and had a couple of beers and come back. But at one of the competitions that I went to, I got an email from one of the professors, that Ford was going to be onsite doing some recruiting and I don't know if you never met, did you ever meet Mario Accardo?
Siddhit: He's the guy that hired me.
Zach: Yeah, I ended up meeting Mario Accardo.
Siddhit: Lovely, person and just a guy who knows how to spot people, for sure.
Zach: And I used to talked to him and another person with Ford, her name is on the top of my tongue, but I can't say it right now. But they ended up having a like an interview with me on site, this was in Lincoln, Nebraska at one of the competitions, it was the year after I graduated. Like I ended up getting dragged to another competition because I helped the kids compete and build a race car the year prior. So as my manufacturing role, I was on site pretty much for critical support case something bad happens. So it was like a vacation for me, I got to just kind of kick back, relax, watch all the kids, suffer through what I went through the year prior and watch them compete, kind of give some pointers and help them out where they needed and if anything critical came up, I was onsite to address it and have the mechanical knowledge, to get things fixed and get them back in the game. Kind of like a sports medic really, but for racecars, but that following year, I mean I met with Mario. So if I didn't stick around, if I wasn't hired by the university to do the things I do, I would've never ended up at Ford motor company and I probably wouldn't be here talking to you right now.
Siddhit: That is that is so amazing and coincidentally, because he hired me in the most serendipitous, like situation as well, but that's for another time. But I'm glad that we have that connection with Mario in common and I see how you went into the engineering field having doing construction and taking things apart, like from a young age and this stuff doesn't come naturally to everyone, a lot of people think they have to be engineers and they struggled through subjects and just because they can be engineers but it's really created that some people can just do it naturally. And all of the things you mentioned, like teaching other kids and becoming like a teaching assistant or an improper professor and helping people with their thesis, that all shows that you genuinely like, enjoy it above and beyond just getting a job. So that's true through learning and I wish it on every child to have true learning. And yeah, for me it was a technical drawing, like even in high school, I never studied for technical drawing. I just showed up and I just knew it, I loved making 3D diagrams or isometric diagrams. I just knew all of that naturally and just like you I just stayed away from the electrical part and the controls part. So yeah, I completely see that transformation and that journey and for the audiences, you may have forgotten and I certainly forgot my high school stuff but it looks like Zach didn't. Eigenvector, is a vector that does not change direction in a transformation, so I’ll put a link to it in the show notes and Zach, could you clarify for the audience what FSAE is?
Zach: So FSAE, is a program with most accredited universities where the students are join as a four year degree program and they right off the bat would have to be committed to FSAE. And once you sign up for that first class, that first semester you're committed for the four years. Most of the universities adopt that four year program where, and I want to say most accredited universities and there's something like 300 universities that compete in this, some of them compete in Lincoln, some of them compete in Michigan, but moreover what they do is they start at a freshman level teaching, your basics of how racecars perform and the specific design requirements and they go through and they also are in the team meetings. And they start almost like we would say in the industry is as like an intern, they're not really, really deep involved in doing any of the computations. They can be, if they're knowledgeable enough they may be hands-on and helping build something. They will be hands-on and helps helping set up track days or practice days, but it's a four year degree program where you go through and you take courses that specifically apply to what would tailor you as an automotive manufacturer, or even get you in a program that could send you overseas and you'd end up on an F1 team, or even on a NASCAR team. I didn't know what the heck I was going to do by the time I got to the end of this.
So I didn't know I was going to end up working for Ford Motor Company, but what's interesting about University of New Mexico, where I've got my degree from is they do it as a two year degree. And when I graduated, we 10th in the world and fourth in the nation. So we were pretty high up and for a two year degree program, where kids are getting in one year, kind of seeing it, getting their feelers out, they join as a junior and they see that first bit of the program they'll realize right away if they want it or they don't. So it's not real selective, you can sign up for it, but it's required that you meet with the professor before you join and he really kind of vet you and understands the reasoning why you want to join. My meeting with him, I had a lot of extensive manufacturing background knowledge in welding and machine from the get-go as well as I thought I would be useful, so that's how I ended up there. I didn't really think it was going to turn into a future profession as a lead engineer for Ford Motor Company, but that's what I ended up as. But these kids spend at least two years designing, engineering, designing, building, and racing a race car. So when you break that down, I said four keywords there, you engineer it first, you validate your results, you design it and then you build it, which takes a year and then you race it that final year. We would do it in two years, so it was quick, it was like a fast track program at New Mexico. And the fact that we were doing it in two, compared to four was, was astounding and we were still, pretty high up in the ranks. So last time I checked, we were second, they placed pretty high at the race last year, every now and then I go back and check what the race results are, like every other year, and yeah, the kids are doing good, man. Dr. John Russell was the professor and was there pretty long and the getting pretty old when I was in the program and he's still going at it, man, he's still going strong, so kudos to him.
Siddhit: Yeah, sounds like a very grueling and directed course, and I just looked it up and FSAE is, formula SAE and I'm familiar with SAE as, many of you with the audience might be the society of automotive engineers, but they just refer to themselves as SAE. And I can see how this would train them for very automotive related work and yeah, it's completely fitting that you're in Ford Motor company and building transmissions for Mustangs...
Zach:[Chuckles] and Transit vans...
Siddhit:So with that being said, .. and You know what they are not very exciting looking, but they are some of the most useful vehicles on the road, especially in these times, so absolutely they are our lifeline. So Zach, do you want to dive straight into like your technical challenge and non-technical challenge, or is there something else on your mind that you have about your journey or what would you like to get into a man? Okay, so what has been a technical challenge that you faced? And this could be like, not just one day or like, it could be just a tough month or a week or something and how did you face it? Just walk us through like a day in the life of Zach Westhoff.
Zach: So I'll start with the first one on top of my head, since I just kind of talked about FSAE, that's go back to my validation period within FSAE, we had a race car built, we knew the parameters of what the curb weight was going to be and we knew what tires we were going to select and race car dynamics is something that's pretty grueling. You pretty much set the bar where you want to perform at and when I say set the bar, you're talking about multiple variables of speed and downforce and lateral and longitudinal acceleration, how you want the car to perform. It's like the benchmarks for your design, so upfront you set these values and there's a process of validation for everything that you want to choose for this and when you get down into it, everything in that car relies on the performance of your tires. Like you wouldn't really think about it, you're like [Sid: "Really!.. Wow."] I work in the sector and most people don't think about, the kind of tire they're going to put in their car. Like, do you actually think about it when you're going to put tires on the wife's car? You're going look at the coefficients of friction.
Siddhit: No, I just get all weather tires and slap them on after a discount from somebody on the tire. So yeah, I must be the worst offender of all of those people in your eyes.
Zach: But yeah, everything in the performance of a vehicle comes down to the tires and I don't know if it was the professor or not like this is pretty technical. And pretty technical to the point of, I still remember it to this day and we were using mat lab and we were running like heavy, heavy calculations based off of what the input values are off of our race car and what we desired our output values to be. And when I say input values, I'm talking certain speed requirements, acceleration, longitudinal, acceleration kind of breaking those down lateral acceleration and just the performance of how we want it to perform. And all this is rooted into like one specific equation and there's a guy called Hans B Pacejka, and you wouldn't believe it but he was born in, like I think 1934 and he was an expert in vehicle systems, dynamics, particularly tire dynamics, which was like the field of his expertise. But he developed a series of tire design models that lasted over like 20 years and they were so like undefined and really top notch that they were kind of called like the magic formula, like quotations magic formula.
Zach: Because there was like no real physical basis for the structure of how the equations were chosen, but they still fit a wide variety of tire constructions today and you're talking like I think he was born in 1934. I don't know when he passed away, but I would say, he probably passed away in like the last four or five years because no one lives that long, but like you talk about, they fit a wide variety of tire constructions between keep in mind 1934 and like the tires operating conditions. So each of these equations were characterized by like 10 to 20 coefficients it was huge. That pretty much defined like how a tire made contact with its surface and it pretty much defined like based off the experimental data that you had calculated for the race car performance, such as like camber angle and slip angle. And like, you talk about technical, you start getting into like vehicle dynamics and there's so many inputs and outputs that are derived off of that And it's kind of interesting because the Pacejka tire formulas are actually widely used in professional race car, vehicle dynamics. And to be honest, like they're even used in a race car games and they're damn accurate, dude.
Siddhit: That is like a very, very well interesting piece of history, that this guy doesn't have, like, anything that people think is like a structured formula or derivation or something, but it seems to hold up against the test of time and everyone is using it in everything, from like kid races to like professional racing. So, this must be quite a character and quite a genius at that.
Zach: Yeah, there was a whole semester of our FSAE program, pretty much based off of modeling how our vehicle are going to perform and it all came down to how the tires were going to perform. And from there you build the car off of that, so it's kind of like backwards engineering, right? Usually, you're giving your inputs and then you find out your outputs, but there was a lot of derivation that we did using like the magic formulas that essentially would quantify how our racecar is going to perform.
Siddhit: And for the audience the camber angle is like the angle that the vertical axis of the tire makes when it is not perfectly at 90 degrees. So that's your camber angle. And it probably is something you can see when it's going over an uneven terrain and it's used to design steering and suspension.
Zach: Yeah, even in like sharp corners too, like camber angle is a big thing because like you could see it on some cars when you drive down the road, like their tires are tilted in, like there wheels are tilted in. But when you think about that setups kind of needed when you start taking a corner really hard for NASCAR, it's easy, I mean, they're always turning left, they're not turning left and right.
Zach: So you set up everything for, I think it's a positive camber and like your tire will actually roll up under that wheel and if you have that wheel actually leaning out a little bit, it helps the contact patch actually grab on a little bit better as your suspension compresses and your spring rate is right, your air press, your tires is perfect and the tire compound, most of all is going to be able to hold your car on that corner.
Siddhit: Yeah, I can imagine it in my head, what you're saying, correct.
Zach: So, yeah, it was pretty technical in school, man, like this was like a good man. I I'd say like a good two month project where like you're looking at your design and you're going back and you're validating, using other systems like car simulator or Adams to find out what your camber angles are and you'd provide that as an input. And MATLAB was a pretty versatile tool because you could draw track, like you could draw track on MATLAB and you could use a Simulink to essentially run the program to give you your outputs. And if it was unsolvable, you knew that one of the values used was diverging when your eigenvalues was diverging at that point. So you'd have to go back and find out all right, what's the problem, why was my eigenvalue diverging, what was the input that caused it to do that? And then that's kind of the validation premise of the whole program, or the whole like physical versus simulated model, in term of validating and within Ford Motor Company, we knew that line, they'll go through and they'll build something, they'll validate it. And then we usually call them capability studies or case studies in the manufacturing side. But there is a bigger picture where they do it with vehicles too.
Siddhit: No, very, very, very interesting Zach, and I loved how you brought it back to what you do on the line with capability. So again, for our audience, like capability the way, at least I remember it at Ford, it was mainly these two main metrics, which was CP and CPK, which stood for capability and the performance and capability essentially meant that within your spec limits and your process limits were less than your specification limits and the performance decided how centered they were. If they were too close to a specification limit, you are likely to fail during some kind of abnormality. So you'd rather stay as center, as you could kind of like a car going into a garage, right? You want to be centered and you want to fit in the garage.
Zach: Depends on how many cars you have in garage.
Siddhit: Plus how many cars you have in the garage and trust act to make it a little more technical than we can handle and what Zach was saying, was expanding all of those metrics to a much bigger picture with every part of the vehicle chassis and the suspension and stuff like that, very interesting Zach.
Zach: Thanks, so like another technical problem that I had, there was a lot of discussion on the hybrid, like pretty sure you've seen like the F-150 electric down in Texas powering homes and keep your appliances alive, like people were down there need power. So that was like a little mini hooray moment for me and Brandon, but I initially like launched that ran off the MHT portion of the whole 10 speed program. And like, you wouldn't believe how difficult it was to actually get that piece of equipment integrated and into the front of a 10 speed transmission. Like there was a lot of things at play and a lot of things that made people say it's not possible. From the get-go like, I think Brandon just folded on it, I think he was so busy. Brandon was my main counterpart as he was the lead engineer and I think he delegated on the 10 R MHT portion and just handed it to me because he was so busy and wrapped up with installation and runoff and processing payments and doing all the other lead engineering roles on the base 10 R program, like he didn't want to take it on. And he didn't have the time to meet with the product engineers and really go through design reviews that they were kicking off with tier two suppliers for components at this time. And this was a big thing, like if they were basically putting an e-motor on the front of the transmission and from the get-go, I talked to the cost study originator, Jeff Hinkle, and Jeff Hinkle was another colleague of mine that did the vignette study up front and he didn't really dig into the details too deep. So I kind of poked his brain a little bit and found out who did he communicate with, and the one person he missed was our robot programmer, Dave Gravell. Dave Gravell within Ford Motor Company was anything and all things robotic at the time within powertrain manufacturing.
Siddhit: Yeah, even I know that name it's synonymous with all the robotics.
Zach: He's working at ABB now as a technical specialist, but Dave was like his response to MHT was like no way in hell and for most people, the technical specialist is saying, you can't do this. I kind of like seen it as like a welcome invitation, I was like challenged me. Like, I don't understand the others`, there's certain things that can be done, but I see the path forward and there's always ways to figure something out.
Siddhit: Challenge accepted.
Zach: Yeah exactly, so I took not really like, as a vendetta but motivation to kind of take a technical expert and prove him wrong, just to kind of say, I beat you. You know like when you put a notch in the belt but kind of like, try to get under his radar and be like, you said this was impossible, but I mean, it happened. Not really ego building, I wasn't like self-centered at the time I was just like, I could see how this will work. So Dave was vetted and he was involved in the whole product design process and it always came down to stacks with him, like, I don't know what the big deal was with stacks. And I do understand that as you start your engagement sequence, there's some analytical stacks that we do because you'll have multiple engagements as you install a torque converter into transmission and mates to a shaft. And there's five different layers of like engagements that you need to have before that torque converter is fully seated and there's like a damper inside and in a turbine wheel and then there's like another secondary turbine wheel that spins with the fluid motion as it's going through it and then there's a seal and then there's also a pump drive at the bottom. And for some reason, Dave didn't see this as just like installing a torque converter, he see it as something like on a grander scale and by the time that I actually looked at it, I was like, if we put this module in, it's going to be just like installing a torque converter, I don't see what the big deal is. So you'll another engagement at the very, very, very bottom or you see it to the case and like the two cases meet together and the torque converter is encapsulated inside of it. So I set off in motion and decided to do this and I spent like a good, I'd say six or seven months with the product team from the get-go. I think Sid, you were even working for us at that time, but I think you were working with Marianne.
Siddhit: I was helping you with MHT but that was after you finished a lot of the technical workup that had to be done upfront and I remember you being very involved with the product, right? You were doing a lot of the stuff that happens like before we actually start on something like this and that's a testament to how involved you were willing to be with, with actually the product and the design of that component. So I think you did play an instrumental role there, and I could see you in those meetings. Yeah, I think I came in when we were already doing the validations, but just to get back to one of the points you made, I think people who as children, like to take things apart and see how it works, they aren't taking up a challenge for ego. They simply can't accept that unless I take this apart, I won't know if it's actually impossible and I love that attitude because I didn't really have that attitude, but I can see that problem solvers need to see it themselves and verify the truth themselves and say, let me take it apart. Let me go back to the basics and is it really impossible, right? So you're right, I don't think it was anything to do with beating someone or whatever, I think that was perfect.
Zach: No, I would've never beat Dave, Dave would have beat me all the time. Yeah, Dave is a very smart guy, taught me quite a bit about robotics and I still value him, he's a great guy. Man, I wish we still had him here, he's off to bigger and better things. But anyways, from the get-go, back to the whole Dave Gravell, I got this thing in a design down to working with the PD guys and to be honest, like Ford Motor Company contracted it out, which is the best thing in the world from the beginning because you had contractors, so you didn't have product design guys that would basically adhere to design rules and you wouldn't hear no as an answer, you're like, we absolutely need this from the beginning. Otherwise this is like a no-go and you're talking like at one stage is like the very, very first model of the transmission as it's being developed within the Ford data system for 3d models, like manufacturing was from the very beginning. And I think that's paramount in the fact that, it wasn't just thrown over the wall and like a cost study and then we have to scramble to go figure out the costs that's going to take to assemble and figure out solutions to it. We were vetted from the very beginning and we had input for from the very beginning and it's a new design. So very important that whoever's building something for you is involved from the very beginning of its design, that first shovel full of dirt, you got to have engineering and manufacturing on site to weigh into how things are going to happen. You're going to hit roadblocks along the way, you're going to have people that say, no way in hell is this going to work, but it's not until you actually like get down to that turnkey moment of where you're building the product for the first time and it'll happen as long as you've done your upfront research and you know that you need this much material or this much of a distance between your engagements and you've installed something like similar to it. Like your road is already pave for you, all you got to do is take the risk and drive down the road and if you run into a problem, you're an engineer. This goes back to like my first statement, technical solutions are pretty much easy, it's the non-technical solutions, which is active communication and working with colleagues and pacifying those around you when you offend them. Those are the hard things to get over, technical is easy, at this point.
Siddhit: I can see how that plays out in a large company and for the audience, what Zach is saying is, is the nuts and bolts of launching a new product, it's that fuzzy line between product and manufacturing and engineering. A lot of the time, the communication tends to be like a major problem, so I completely get what you're saying.
Zach: Everybody's running around like their pants are on fire, no.
Siddhit: Yeah, thanks for that case, Zach. I think it was very interesting and it was one of Ford's first offerings to the market with the hybrid and congratulations on the truck and the whole campaign and the whole product and a very good effect on its outlook for future products, absolutely.
Zach: Yeah, I actually ended up over at the vehicle plant Chicago and did a week stay over there to help them out with launch and there were some issues with decking transmissions to engines. And there was another guy by the name of Mike Check that was specifically responsible with like the first kind of offline assembly where they deck the engine to the transmission. That's when they assemble the engine to the actual, like the powertrain components, the engine, and the transmission and then they'll also bolt on the subframe assembly, which at a later point, further down the line gets raised up and made into the body assembly of like a explorer. So that's what the MHT went in first and it was pretty interesting to see that and the main issue with the line, was like a typical torque converter has like some bolt studs on the front of it and those made up to a, like a large gear in the back of the engine, like a flex plate. And typically there's like six or four bolts that hold that torque converter to the flex plate, or in some instances there'd be like a fly wheel damper, something to mitigate the vibration between the crank shaft of the engine and the transmission, but if you don't get the picture, you could Google it. But yeah, like there was nothing for them to grab onto, like typically if there's like a torque converter, you can spin the torque converter and see where the hole is at and line up a stud with it and bring the engine and transmission together and they come together pretty easily. On the front of the MHT there's like a small little spline shaft and about an inch and a quarter in diameter and when you're bringing the engine and transmission together, you can't reach in there and align it. So we ended up making like this male and female types, spline tool that would make to the transmission and also make to the engine and you can spin it with a long handle. And as you bring the two together, it would align the splines and then you slide them both apart, pull the tool out and then slide them back together and everything was lined and you could bolt the transmission to the back of the engine.
Siddhit: I remember vaguely being involved in this, and I'm sure it would have presented like a major ergonomic problem for the guys at Chicago. And it's glad that you taught on your feet and design this tool for them.
Zach: The ergonomist in Chicago, we're a lot different than ergonomist in PTMA, I'll tell you that right now. I met with a couple of them, like you were a pretty dang good ergonomist.
Siddhit: Thank you.
Zach: But the guys in Chicago, were nothing at your caliber like, I think you could have actually made a pretty good ergonomist and have like have you own plant somewhere, but you're off to bigger and better things, that's what everybody does.
Siddhit: No, yeah thank you, I do find that a subject very, very interesting because it's like the fusion between man and machine. And I think if it you're a good problem solver, you'll figure out how to make it worthwhile for the men as well and those are, for the benefit of the audience, I just want to say that what we call plants, you might think that a lot of things are automated and a lot of things are very advanced, but for operators working on vehicle lines, especially, more so than engine or transmission lines, this is still a backbreaking work. It's very hard work, it's at a certain angles where your back and neck, might hurt and there are many great solutions like ergo suits and stuff that have come up to solve this. So, so it's a very interesting field for all of those who find the subject. Interesting. I'm going to put some links in the show notes and you can look at it and see if this is something you'd like to go into for all the young people out there listening to this.
Zach: I remember the ergo suits, those things were pretty cool.
Siddhit: So, I linked to that too, I'm sure it's out there in the web somewhere. Cool Zach, was that your non-technical answer or is that another problem that you face that you can share with us?
Zach: Oh, non-technical yeah, I can share something with that. Like just talk about simple, like I try to dumb it down for this, but this was like a long enduring, like year and a half process and most of the transmissions have some sort of a vent assembly on the top. Because you've got gears rotating inside of an aluminum case, it's going to create heat as it warms up and the air expands and the air has to go somewhere. So every vehicle has as a transmission vent, like even your engines have them and it's meant to allow air to escape. Otherwise you'll end up pushing a gasket out or something will happen or you'll end up puking fluid out of whatever is warming up. So they are vented to atmosphere, but in transmission specifically, like there's a vent, it's like a barbed fitting on the top of the transmission that we press into the top of the transmission and it's on the top to keep it away from the oil. And we've been pressing it within 10R assembly, like when I say 10R, I mean like 10 speed, when Ford first came up with this, we would put an event and it was put in with a press and an operator walks into a workstation, puts this vent at the end of a press ramp and the transmission comes in on like an assembly pallet and it's located off of that pallet. And then we also, located inside the station and then the press comes and park inside of it and pretty much presses it in, it's happens pretty rapidly and, the operator is nowhere near or inside the station, he's standing outside of a light curtain.
Light curtains, are like light beams and if somebody breaks it when the automation moving, it'll automatically stop, it's like hitting an e-stop button. Because we've got to think operator safety, but things happen differently between different assembly lines and some issues that you don't have on one assembly line, like will pop up on another and it came down to like 10R 140, which is the transmission that goes into like the super duty, like the F-350 and 450 and above that Ford Motor company makes we were pressing to invent tubes and for the love of God, like we couldn't get these things to seat. And our press system is only rated for like 12 kilonewtons and we've got the same maxed out and we're actually overriding the overload limit on it up to like 14 kilonewtons, I guess, 2 kilonewtons above it's like 960 pounds of force more. If you start converting Newtons to pounds and we could not get these things to seat and I started diving into this thing and then like the same tool is used between,10R 80, which is a smaller platform that we were having no issues with pressing these things in and 10R 60, they were going in good too. There was like a little flicker there on 10R 60 and we're try to figure out what was going on. When the OEM, the original equipment manufacturer made this equipment, they ended up putting like a little compensation type device that was like held with springs, like it's supposed to center it and there was no way to really have it returned to center correctly, other than the springs that were on all four corners. So if you imagine you push this thing to one side, the four spring forces would naturally bring it back to the center and like the springs over time decay as they're stretched and I don't think most people know this, but like springs in their neutral state will stay at that spring level, like they'll keep that same amount of force, but if you stretch the spring and you hold it there for long amounts of time, it'll essentially weaken over time and I like to think of it as like, people in a workforce that are seriously stressed for a long period of time.
If you stress that person for a long period of time, they're going to eventually weaken or give up and these springs on all four corners were essentially kind of weakening over time and you had something that was moving and they were scared to make something that was rigid tooling. And I told them, I said if you get rid of that compensation device or the compliance device that was allowing this to axially move or deviate, it would be better. So it took like multiple studies, lots of promise programming and multiple and I kept just grilling and grilling, like, get rid of the Springs on this thing and make it rigid and you'll be fine and everybody was worried that they needed it from the get-go. And I was like, no make it rigid, so I had so many make like a, like a hardened steel a fixture that I could bolt onto the bottom of it and just hold the vent tube and I started pressing in vent tubes, like nobody's business and it fixed it, but it was like a year and a half of arguments and convincing people like you're talking non-technical right. It's just a thought promise, like people aren't confident in the ability of their equipment to do certain things and then you start analyzing analytical stacks and you start aligning things and don't get me wrong. Like we had an alignment fixture that was completely off for the station and that's, I want to say the reason why this thing got drawn out is the alignment fixture didn't match the assembly part on the pallet. So every time they use the alignment fixture, it wouldn't line up with a part and that caused a lot of worry, so I think that kind of drew it out. But as soon as it made the tooling rigid and we got the alignment fixture to line up with the part, like people were all in, like there was a light at the end of the tunnel and as soon as we pushed, like the first four or five or six vent tubes in, and they made it all the way in, people were like, yeah this is the right direction. So it's sometimes you just got to have the muster and willingness to like, not let people's decisions kind of skew your ideas and take initiative and validate what your thoughts are, don't be afraid to try it. And I think that'll actually produce the results that you're looking for and if not, then you go back to that whole engineering mindset of problem solving and what's the worst case you got to start all over, but you're still going to find a solution by the time that you get into it.
Siddhit: Wow, I was actually shaking my legs because this had so many great gems, I was just itching to come in and unmute myself, I want to unpack that, you were talking and I didn't want to interrupt that, but there were so many good gems. Firstly, what I liked is there is a lot of noise and I think you held onto the signal and the noise was that if there is some paradigm that is widely accepted, it's very hard for anyone like me or anyone to objectively see if it's still the right paradigm. And I think that's what you did, you questioned it and said that, yes, I know conventional wisdom would say that you want something that's elastic, but in this case, here are the reasons why it should be rigid and you kept hammering at it for a year, that's a lot. And for the benefit of the audience, I want to say that, while this was a very tiny part because I'm familiar with the vent tube, and there's a funny incident with that, but the vent tube is very tiny part but as Zach mentioned, it could lead to damage of the other parts of the transmission, if it gets overheated. So people would be reluctant to change something that they think has worked in the normal sense and here we have something that is completely different and it took you like a lot of trials and you had to prototype it and you had to try it and you had alignment issues, but you kept focusing on the signal and kind of ignore the noise. So I think that is the biggest takeaway here and the other takeaway is that what's the worst that's going to happen is you just have to start over and for many people that's like a very big deal where it shouldn't be a big deal, you just start over. Yeah, you lost a lot of time, but think of how much you learned that you wouldn't have otherwise learned and you think that it's not useful, but later down the line you'll remember this, right? You will remember all of this and it will help you, so I'd say that those two things you said are very useful for any young person to hear, like no experience is really useless. It's going to teach you something no matter how trivial it is and you have to be able to start over any number of times, not just once, any number of times. So I love that conversation with you, Zach, yeah it was a great example of a non-technical problem, but it had so much technical stuff as well. So you're quite a technical guy and I learned so many things so far, let's continue to our next question.
Zach: I'll say, a little bit here.
Siddhit: Yeah, sure.
Zach: If you're in the engineering role, you're not going to get things right the first time through, just say that right now. Like don't expect positive results, you're going to get lucky for sure, you're going to have the optimal results and you're going to get your results that you want like the first time, it'll happen. But don't expect those results all the time, it's just like doing that is accepting defeat. You almost got to have like that predetermined attitude of like a lawyer, where you are offered a rebuttal and you have to rechallenge and if you don't have that drive to essentially re-engage yourself and find out why, like there's a lot of things that if you're not investigating or trying to figure out why it's like, I wouldn't necessarily say engineering's like the main role for you. But if you're really upset about bad results the first time.
Siddhit: Yeah, you need to swallow some truth pills at that point and you need to really assess why you think that way and what is making you think that way. It's not that something is wrong with you, but it must be something in your psyche that you need to examine and come to peace with the fact that in engineering you will have to constantly have trial and error and I think you hit the nail right on the head with that, relating it to engineering. Alright, so Zach and I know you're a problem solver, but this question like assumes that you don't need to solve a problem. So if you had a magic wand to change one thing about how your job works or how your industry works, or just the whole field manufacturing field, what would that be and why?
Zach: It's a good question, because there's a lot of things, I could wave a magic wand at. I'm sure everybody in like your daily life, you could wave a magic wand. I kind of stated something earlier, like the engineer of a ship can never be captain, that whole idea mindset of, well you're just an engineer. You can never be an executive, like you have to have that business knowledge. I think that's kind of true in some premise, but don't let that hold you back. Like you can still keep going and you could still be an engineer, you could buy the ship, you can be an engineer on that ship and still own the ship and also be the captain. But I think you offered some rebuttal to that too Sid, the captain has to know the same technicalities and the issues that the engineer knows. Otherwise the captain can't give direction to the engineer or the engineer and the captain will basically end up in an argument match and one's going to end up either dead on the floor or thrown overboard.
But like within Ford Motor Company, we assigned roles to multiple people, you've experienced it. And there's been some bloodletting, there's been some people laid off because they've decided that some people aren't needed and roles have changed. I think if you were still here at Ford Motor company, you'd be a process engineer because what Ford done is they've simplified, they've gotten rid of the ergonomist and they basically went to like one standard PTME led group of ergonomics, they're like their own group and role, you either end up there or you ended up as a process engineer. But it's so crazy to me to see how sometimes as engineers, we are sincerely muted and if I could wave a magic wand, it would be essentially to open up the doors to anybody within Ford Motor company to have accessibility to that executive role and granted that you do have the proper degree as in the business knowledge. But like at this point it seems kind of heartbreaking because I myself only have a bachelor's degree and even today I thought about, maybe I should pursue a Master's because then that would basically take me a step further and I could end up in like a manager role, but it would never get me to that executive role. So you got to have that mindset from the start, of where you want to be within a company. If you want to be an executive, take some business classes do that as your Masters on top of like a bachelor's degree or something and then actually get rid of COVID.
Siddhit: Yeah, that's a very special magic wand, if we had that
Zach: And actually, make an endless supply of toilet paper and microchips.
Siddhit: Yeah. I've been following that bit of news that it's hurting all manufacturers. I mean, not just Ford and you hit quite the nerve, with that degree thing, because essentially, like that piece of paper does not mean that you will be able to solve business problems. It just means that you took the time to learn about business and maybe an engineer can do that even without the degree, but that's how these credentials work and unfortunately that's how it is. But you do need to navigate the corporate world with the way you described, which is to kind of choose your path in management or become a technical specialist like herself. So yeah, hopefully one day, there are more technical people within the management committees that analyze more or dig deeper more and go to the root and perform root cause analysis, before they take decisions.
Zach: Yeah, that reminds me, there's another lead engineer that I work with. His name is Paul Prezekie and one of our L2s, which is leadership level two, basically reports out directly to our executive level. So we're talking like Jim Farley and there was a meeting that was sent out the other day and it's like some god-awful hour, like 6:30 in the morning. And I basically asked, another lead engineer, hey have you heard what this is about? And his response, I'm guessing it's another management rollout of another high level plan and I'm like, well yeah. My response to him was, I pretty much figured that out, kind of like eye-rolling at him. And it's probably, everybody's got news, but it seems like somebody's got to send it out like as a blast email, or have a meeting over something and if it's unknown nature and somebody doesn't know about it. Yeah, well like let the masses know, but I kind of already have an idea of what this meeting is about. And here's the thing, like we know that there is a toilet paper shortage, we know that there's a chip shortage and these are like key things that you got to hone in on. Like when you're in the industry and you see something happening, your response shouldn't be to lay down and place blame, your response should be to act and react, if you're not getting microchips, like start making your own microchips. At some point you have the technical basis behind, you have all the people that are there to ready to do it. And this is something that I’ve seen with the project Apollo. Project Apollo was Ford Motor Company's response to respirators, PPE and getting healthcare products to people that needed it during the pandemic. And I'll tell you what, like Ford Motor Company spring to action in like two weeks. We had our first piece of equipment show up on like the third week and you mean to tell me that you can start making respirators and you can start making face masks on week three, but you're going to lay down and basically start pointing fingers and placing blame at like, how far are we into Sid, probably like take a month or two.
Siddhit: Yeah, this is no more than month two, I think this is more than month two.
Zach: Yeah, like read the writing on the wall from the get-go and understand the issues that are coming up and you got to react. Like you got to be there and react within 72 hours, like you see that this is happening, you have the manufacturing facilities and the infrastructure and everything to basically to get the ball rolling. Either you react or you lay down and take it, that's how I see it.
Siddhit: Yeah, and it's interesting that I was reading an article from 2018 and 2019, which was very interesting, in which some raw material or commodity and natural resources consultants for saying that mining capacity doesn't actually meet what the electric car makers are planning to use for things like lithium and cobalt and stuff like that. And it was something that they said that hey, you're going to run into problems in 2022 or something. And people were like yes but even that's going to increase at the same level as the demand is, and maybe it did not and maybe they were right then. But this literature was out there for people to see and act on it. So yeah, what you're saying makes sense.
Zach: Yeah, and I honestly believe that our next electrical shift is going to go for batteries to probably small scale reactors, it's just like my own little thought.
Zach: I'm talking like reactors, like the size of a Nalgene bottle.
Siddhit: Right, more vertical integration the way it was during Henry Ford, right? He saw stuff like this happening, he saw shortages - little tidbit for the audiences - that he even made his own rubber plantation , just so he could make tires, so this is how he used to think.
Zach: He still owns it.
Siddhit: Yeah, very interesting comment on how we have to react or rather be proactive when everything is probably clearly in front of you and all of us can do that, we can clearly see things coming, but we sometimes don't act. So that was just, the three questions that I sent you Zach and the fourth question or the surprise fifth question rather, is something just fun as a closing question which was, if this was 2051 or it was your grandchild in 2051, what would they see if they stepped into a factory?
Zach: Like what kind of a factory, like an automotive factory?
Siddhit: Any like the factory of the future? Like how do you think we'll be manufacturing things, what is the state of the industry in that era?
Zach: Oh man, I think it'd be like walk into walking into an Apple store. I think you're going to see like the cleanliness and like what you have going on, don't get me wrong, like gears are always going to be messy, they're always going to be oily, I think nothing's going to change with machining. I honestly think that you'll start to see advancements in rapid prototyping to where you're going to have instead of die-cast things, you're going to have those things that are rapidly made, but to be honest like die-casting of aluminum, especially with our transmission cases and the materials that they use, it's pretty damn fast. I don't think that you can rapid prototype something that fast.
Zach: But I think there's always going to be some level of material removal from whatever's basically die-cast. So you're always going to have machining, I believe that machining has pretty much optimized to the point that they're already using surmounted diamond and other types of like composite type cabriite tips to remove material, that tool changes are so infrequent, tool life is indefinite, you're talking like tool changes, every.
Siddhit: 10 years.
Zach: Yeah, a long periods of time, you'll see bearings and stuff worn out before you see cutting tools wear out. As far as assembly goes, you're always going to need that human to machine interface and you're always going to have to have that operator neck in somebody's hands and starting a pull.
Siddhit: Oh, really, you think so?
Zach: Tell me, do you honestly think automation can solve the bulkhead wire harness?
Siddhit: Right now it can't, I've experienced it. So I used to put my hands in there to see the ergonomics and trying to install it myself and then no it can't, but I didn't always.
Zach: I can see wireless, wireless sensors, I can see the removal of wires altogether and have wireless sensors. Like recently there was a chip that was created that took a binary compound of diamond , which is the type of crystal that creates its own energy and essentially it being implemented into a chip that has a half-life of 28 years. So on that note, I think you could actually do wireless sensors, like exactly like what we have for the speed sensors and the transmission. You could essentially have a Wi-Fi enabled type receptor that would pick up the sensor output and process that into like an input card. I can see the removal of batteries at some point, cell phones because the chips in of themselves will have 28 years of battery life. They won't need anything to produce energy, but as far as like manufacturing and making things, I can seriously see like nuts and fasteners and everything still being needed, because if you need to service something, you still got to take a bolt down, super glue won't replace that. Epoxy are making a pretty big comeback though.
Siddhit: Yeah, very interesting take and you're the second person who mentioned that plants could be cleaner. And I do hope that humans are not still at plants and they don't need to come there and, and for the audience, the speed sensors are these sensors that you place next to slots in the case in which the input shaft of the transmission is kept and it kind of meshes with the input shaft and measure the speed, ```that's how you come to know your speed and correct me wherever I'm wrong, Zach.
Zach: It's like a hall effect sensor, it just outputs rotation speed.
Siddhit: Yeah, and to hold them there, to connect them there you have this wire and to hold the wire as rigidly as it's possible, you have this wire harness and the wire harness, it snakes its way around other components in the transmission and what Zach is referring to is how complicated that is to install. And it requests so much sensitivity with your fingers that somebody who is very big, even that person has difficulty actually placing this viral harness accurately inside. So let alone a robot, which is not sensitive enough and we just don't have the technology or the right cost to have that kind of finesse, that massaging of that bendable harness, so that is what we're talking about.
Zach: Yeah, I could see the whole 5G movement mixed with like the, these new technologies and micro-systems with infinite power, essentially. Like the most, your service life of like a cell phone is probably like, what 10 years, so I mean, if you start talking about like removal of wires inside of a vehicle, you could power headlights, you could power gage clusters, you could power of lights. There's multiple things that you're talking about, like granted, you have a big enough chip. Now, most of these chips, we're talking like on a small scale, like they require input power to do computations and run the algorithms. But like most of these chips that they're starting to make they are like a composite diamond are essentially, they don't need power input to do what they got to do. They just need a signal and then they do the rest of it all by themselves, so I thought that was pretty cool.
Siddhit: No, I had not heard the materials that you mentioned self-powered materials and I'll be sure to look that up, but that sounds very, very fascinating. And essentially what you're saying, it's like the iron man, like the thing in his chest, right? It's self-powered and essentially eliminates the need of any kind of power source being connected from afar with wires.
Zach: Yeah, you would essentially, I think you'd still have to have like a high input voltage to start the engine, if you're still talking about ICE engines, internal combustion. That's going to take a large amount of battery power, but as far as computers go and turning on a signal to turn on a fan, and you're still going to have a generator on board, like an alternator or something to create power too. But a lot of the power that's running to the chips is essentially going to get removed at some point. Yeah, that's a big thing, crystal power is actually something that's been out there for a while and they're starting to make advancements in it. I read it in popular mechanics, actually. It's not something like kind of new invention it's been around for a while.
Siddhit: Right, and yeah it just needs to be on the right location on that curve of adoption, right? It's just not there yet, but hey, this is 2051 we're talking about and hopefully a lot of these things that all of our guests have said will be true and make for cleaner, quieter, safer factories.
Zach: Yeah, do you imagine just putting a piece of equipment on a line, not having any IO output cards, anything else it's, everything's wireless?
Siddhit: It would simplify assembly like in so many ways, like in unimaginable ways the complications would be so less, in transport, in any kind of logistics inside the plant and just in ergonomics everywhere, you're right, absolutely.
Zach: Yeah, they have even starting to send electricity over wavelength. Like they're starting to get rid of power lines, there's a town in Sweden that gets the majority of their power, talking electricity over wavelength, like through the air without.
Zach: Yeah, it's doable.
Siddhit: You just got to have a problem solver mindset, yeah that's true. Well, Zach I think this was one of the best episodes so far. I think we went into like a variety of topics, your problems for were very fascinating and I was working alongside you, but I didn't know all the nuances and I'm glad I know them now.
Zach: Oh, you haven't got them all.
Siddhit: Yeah, I'm sure I haven't been and who knows you'll probably be coming for another few times on this podcast, so I'd be very happy to have you again. So thank you so much Zach, for talking to me and all those technical issues we had, thank you for your patience and giving me your time and I wish you and your family all the best and we'll chat again.
Zach: Alright, as long as the snow quit falling, hopefully there is fishing this weekend.
Outro : If you enjoyed this conversation, please subscribe to the Means Of Production Podcast, for more stories from people behind all the manufactured goods we use, love, and depend on this episode was made possible by Pashi the operating system for manufacturing. Pashi, unifies the entire production process for any product, encompasses operator instruction and data input interfacing, stage logic and parameter thresholding, machine interfacing and configuration, through port programming and coordination and stage to stage production flow control into a single Pashi program. Check us out at pashi.com and until we meet again, have a fantastic day, and take care.
Untranscribed bonus content about hunting turkeys vs deer from Zach!
Music from Uppbeat: "Falling" by Zayner. License code: SYFMAQN9WWBAPCSU