Concepts In Manufacturing
When I think about manufacturing and particularly mass production I’m usually sitting in an office or conference room discussing details of man-made contraptions and machines. Automation is cool, for sure. Truly as we look at the world around us and consider the yield of some of those things we take for granted, it’s even more amazing. By comparison, in many ways our engineering has a long way to go.
Manufacturing Lessons From Mother Nature
Can you imagine an automated manufacturing facility where mass production is done by those who prosper from doing the work (rather than being paid for their work)? I’m thinking about the plants and the bees, for instance.
Nature has some amazing systems that we can learn from. These shots come from the garden, but do not capture the amazement, the wonder and the complexity of the systems that bring them to us.
In this case, the gardener cultivates and plants and fertilizes and weeds and cares for the plants. He provides the water and some added nutrients that the plants need to grow — the raw materials if you will. Then there’s the work of others such as the bees who pollinate and do an amazing amount of work — not for pay, but for their own benefit of making food — and honey for us too. Then there is the work of the plant itself which is necessary to bring the fruit. We don’t usually think of plants as workers, but they are.
And there is so much more. It’s a grand design that makes it all work, and it’s certainly very interdependent. It’s a factory of sorts that moves at it’s own pace, but the yield is amazing! (And delicious.) Especially when we think that the main added raw material is manure once a year.
What if we could build our factories to work on some of these principles? It would certainly change our perspective on Factory Automation and Manufacturing Machine Design.
Scratching The Surface
We are the customers of nature’s manufacturing (as well as the custodians). We are also observers and scientists to study all that is before us — including nature’s manufacturing facilities.
So what can we learn?
Nature has a great way of reducing, reusing and recycling everything. The excrement of one is the raw material for the next. What a challenge for us?
Nature’s labor comes with a benefit in ways (think bees) that we have not really imitated. And the customers (you, me, bears, birds, etc.) are almost always happy. Oh, isn’t that what we want in the end for our customers too?
What do you see to learn from nature’s system and apply to ours? Write your comments below. Inspiration from another source our society is becoming less connected with. That’s an idea worth contemplating.