Frankenstein Wasn't an Engineer

Sept. 1, 2001

Frankenstein Wasn’t an Engineer

It seems engineers are being issued a new set of challenges every day. Pick up today’s newspaper and you’ll read about the latest looming disaster that will end civilization unless we act quickly. Take this little case of rabble rousing, for example:

”We must develop quickly technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than oppose it.”

I didn’t get that out of the National Enquirer. It’s a quote from British physicist Stephen Hawking. He says artificial intelligence is poised to outthink its human creators and eventually take over the world unless we increase the complexity of our DNA and improve the mental capacity of human beings.

That’s a pretty tall order considering logistics engineers are still having trouble trying to improve supply chain capacities. That’s a challenge Material Handling Management poses to you every time you pick it up. But at least we help you develop strategies to meet those challenges. That’s the purpose of this supplement.

Let’s forget about re-engineering DNA for the moment.

• How about engineering a stronger connection with customers so we can learn how to better meet their needs?

• How about analyzing the most appropriate technologies for storing and retrieving products in response to customer demand?

• How about re-engineering the workplace so we can make human beings work smarter — without hurting themselves?

• How about identifying and strengthening the engineering skills that will be needed to shore up and build onto the world’s economies?

Those are the strategies you’ll need to develop if we’re going to engineer a more livable world. You’ll make your company a stronger competitor and a stronger partner as it establishes links with companies around the world. Then, maybe you’ll collaborate with other engineers across extranets to create new products and systems to move inventory at speeds to meet current consumer demand.

That should be enough to keep you busy for the rest of your career. Even with advances in technology, scholars say supply chains are destined to get more complex instead of simpler. The Council of Logistics Management just published a new book: E-Business: The Strategic Impact on Supply Chain and Logistics. The authors argue that this complexity comes from new intermediaries introduced into markets, exchanges and marketplaces proliferating, and new and existing players assuming traditional roles.

“All inventories, from beginning material and supplies to finished products and any returned deliveries, will be fully visible through an online inventory tracking and tracing system,” CLM promises. “Diversion of product flow due to unforeseen conditions will be a click away as partners in a full supply chain will be coordinating activities in real-time, using the power of the global Internet for communication.

Once that vision becomes reality, then maybe you can start engineering a way to connect to

the consumer’s brain to anticipate demand.

If Dr. Frankenstein had taken a more strategic approach to engineering, Boris Karloff would never have found work in Hollywood. Now, if we can just keep from creating the Hawking monster.

Tom Andel, chief editor

[email protected]

About the Author

Tom Andel | Editor-in-Chief

Tom Andel is an award-winning editorial content creator and manager with more than 35 years of industry experience. His writing spans several industrial disciplines, including power transmission, industrial controls, material handling & logistics, and supply chain management. 

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