|Computers make life easier at Deere
Computers have made our lives easier, as Mike Mack well knows.
Mack is the director of the John Deere Product Engineering Center
and he recalls the days 30 years ago before computers were much in use.
"Gear design was then a very tedious process, but one
requiring painstaking accuracy," Mack says.
"All calculations were carried out to eight decimal places
and they were very, very lengthy."
The calculations were performed manually with the help of a mechanical calculator.
An Engineer, practiced in the technique, would spend about two
days preparing the calculations for one gear mesh.
"When he finished, he hoped - but could not be certain -
that he had not introduced human error into his calculations somewhere
along the way." Mack says.
The lengthy process wasn't a good use of an engineer's time. So
in 1956, Deere bought some computers, which at that time were large
machines. And the company wrote a computer program for gear design.
"As you might guess, the popularity of the gear computer
program spread quickly throughout the industry," Mack says.
"The two-day manual method was reduced to about 15 minutes
on the computers of 25 years ago and today the operation is completed in
seconds on our present computer equipment."
Today, about 400 design procedures are stored in the computers at
Deere's Engineering Center.
The most recent application of computers to the design process is the
area of computer graphics.
"A number of our drawings are now generated on a video
display terminal and stored as digital information in the
computer," Mack says, noting that this system will eventually
replace drawing boards and drawing files.
"The real payoff," Mack says, "is realized when
the design process interfaces with the manufacturing equipment and the
design data stored in the computer is transmitted directly to the
machine which produces the part."