By the Numbers: Engineering design saves dollars; jobs; safety; flywheel energy

Among recent numbers of interest to those involved in engineering are: $2,000 savings per automobile, an increase in online job demand, safety tips, and more than a billion sensors.

By Control Engineering Staff June 23, 2009
Ride safety information,

Among recent numbers of interest to those involved in engineering are: $2,000 savings per automobile, an increase in online job demand, safety tips, and more than a billion sensors.
Common components, uncommon savings

$2,000 per vehicle potential savings is possible if automakers would implement more common platforms, artchitecture, and components in their designs, says James E. Harbour, in his new autobiography, “Factory Man,” published this year by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Harbour says implementing “common” will be a much greater challenge for global manufacturing processes with the accelerated restructuring of companies wanting to survive. Logical advice that may be applicable in other industries includes:

1-“Each of the Big Three manufacturers must “commonize” their worldwide passenger car and truck platforms to greatly reduce investment for design and product development, new body shops, assembly lines, stamping tools and dies, and supplier tooling.
2-Engineering new platforms requires common body architecture. This will allow select assembly plants to be totally flexible. Production will be able to be switched from one model to another as the market dictates, quickly and without additional investment.
3-Common platforms and architecture will dictate the use of common commodity components. These include things like seat tracks, horns, lumbar supports, sensors, bearings, lock sets, door handles, and various hardware and fasteners.
Says Harbour, “The combination of new common body platforms, common body architecture, and common commodity and non-commodity components has the potential to save, conservatively, $2,000 per vehicle and reduce investment costs by 40%. But the impact of this drive will fall most immediately and heavily on the industry’s beleaguered supplier of parts, components and systems.”
Learn more at .
4 hidden industrial hazards include operator error, wear and tear, installation, and lack of maintenance, according to The American Society of Safety Engineers. The group’s annual meeting, Safety 2009, is June 28-July 1, 2009, in San Antonio, TX.
52,000 digital clamp meters were recalled by Fluke May 15 due to shock hazard. To see exactly which model and serial numbers are involved go to
72% of customers who visit the top 10 U.S. amusement parks – 64 million people – are riding on self-regulated rides, according to Saferparks information sharing website. "That means no government ride inspections or investigations of serious accidents, not even when a customer dies."
250,000 jobs was the increase in online job demand in May, The Conference Board reports. The Conference Board Reports says employers increased hiring demand in May, the first increase in six months and largest in two years. Increases were widespread, with 43 stated posting gains. Learn more at
2/3 of all private-sector U.S. research and nearly 80% of U.S. patents are supported by manufacturing. On May 8, 2009, the U.S. Labor Department reported the loss of 539,000 jobs in April, including 149,000 in manufacturing.

See the rest of this Vycon flywheel diagram

Magnetic bearings are part of the Vycon energy storage flywheel. More than 100 have shipped, company says.

1,400,000 total discharge and recharge cycles have been recorded by Vycon energy storage flywheel systems, which replace traditional lead-acid backup batteries used with uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). Vycon shipped its 100th flywheel energy storage system in April.

Also see Wireless power, power harvesting

>1 billion sensors have been shipped by Freescale , the company announced June 22. The company is a leading supplier of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) acceleration and pressure sensors.
615 genes in the human cortex were mapped as of mid-June 2009, part of the Allen Institute for Brain Science project to characterize gene expression in the human cortex. Beyond efforts to understand human maladies, the work may have related engineering applications: Untangling and mapping brain complexities can advance computing and analysis of complex systems the organization says.
-Edited by Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor in chief
Read more Control Engineering By the Numbers .