Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 2014 E250 Bluetec 4-Matic, 1983 240D 4-Speed
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Quoted: 256 Post(s)
While involved setting up the design and the design process for the Virginia Class submarine, we undertook a study of the number of part numbers on prior classes of submarines. Seawolf, the immediately preceding project, was a particularly challenging design with half the ship (forward end, non-propulsion plant spaces) designed by Newport News and the other half designed by Electric Boat (reactor compartment, engine room and all propulsion plant equipment). The ship used new materials in many areas and there was a lot of political pressure to meet schedule and performance requirements. There was less emphasis on cost and wherever unnecessary costs were being incurred for non-obvious reasons it was overlooked. Not on purpose, but as a result of a combination of ignorance and perceived priorities. As a result there were literally dozens of part numbers for the same part, half in the Newport News system, the other half in the EB system. The actual cost for this lack of process control was enormous.
On the Virginia Class project we set up a parts number Czar - you had to use a standard part (one part number per standard part) unless the job could not be done with a standard part. No one but the part number Czar could generate and load a part number into the system. In those cases where a non-standard part was deemed neccessary a request was made and was only granted if the need met some pretty stringent requirements. The result was the ship design used less than half the part numbers compared to the best previous ship design, the Trident.
When the cost of doing stupid things is enabled by cheaper materials from overseas the discipline to do smart things becomes less valuable. There is nothing associated with the concept of outsourcing that creates long term benefits for Americans. To extend the practice so that so many manufacturing jobs are shipped abroad that we cannot possibly meet our needs domestically should shipping problems or some other situation (wars) make an outside supply unreliable is plain stupid - as stupid as letting engineers be unaware of the costs associated with generating part numbers for hardware at will. The only time we should be employing and teaching others our know-how is when the result is a net benefit to America, not a net benefit to some asshole CEO's bonus for the quarter as the practice is used today.