Subject: Where have all the drafters gone (was: drafters' reliability)
From: Christopher Wright <chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005 21:37:42 -0500
On Apr 8, 2005, at 12:05 PM, Gerard Madden, SE wrote:
What people need
to remember is the structural draftsman is a dying breed.
I'll quibble a little with this. There are many fewer drafters whose
only job is creating drawings, but the need for engineering drafting is
the same as ever. Drawings still get made, but there's a lot more crap
floating around as drafting gets reassigned. You need drawings to aid
in reviewing and presenting the features of the design. Drawings are
the only way to present pertinent design details that communicates this
information. The business case for separating drafting from the rest of
the engineering process is to delegate that part of the work and free
up an engineer for managing the project, getting quotes, resource
planning and allocation, communicating with the client, site visits and
troubleshooting requiring engineering oversight.
From what I can see drafting is being done by junior engineers in
larger companies and it's simply being added to the the engineer's
duties in smaller ones. (Of course those of us with one-holer practices
have always been in the barrel because there's no one else.) Sometimes
it works, sometimes it doesn't. Where engineering requires a great deal
of technical expertise, like the nuke business the quality of the
design and the quality of the drafting suffer; in offices where design
is basically just cartooning junior engineers can function OK, but you
don't find many junior engineers who can do a tolerance stack-up or
weld design, to name just two. And in offices where the drafters did
the checking, you see a lot more errors. Just check the next drawing
package you get. If the checker and the designer and the approver all
have the same initials, be very, very careful.
The mistake is to assume that drawings are only artistic
representations, which they aren't. Drawings are communications, just
like a report or a specification. They have to be organized, and
unambiguous, besides being accurate. The difference between an
experienced drafter and a CAD monkey is the ability to organize and
communicate, so you get very attractive drawings with too much detail
where it's not needed, or the wrong detail or dimensions called out to
4 decimal places with tolerances. OTOH too many engineers approach the
drafting function with a 'do what I meant, never mind what I said,'
attitude toward communication, and the number of questions and 'shop
screw-ups' reflect the fact that the design drawings are just cartoons.
My own opinion is that the guts of the problem is a lack of technical
leadership. Or technically literate leadership. Too many obsolete
engineers or non-engineers in managerial positions. People who
understand what the drafting function actually is would have recognized
the way to integrate CAD into their design cycle to make it more
productive instead of going for the small potatoes and just looking at
their head count.
Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania
* Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you
* send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted
* without your permission. Make sure you visit our web
* site at: http://www.seaint.org******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********