This article starts with general principles applicable to all industries
and then discusses special considerations for renewable energy, which needs major
Products and concurrently engineered processes should be develop to be
scalable designs that can achieve the following forms of scalability:
• Minimize Cost.
The absolute minimum total cost is essential for growth for commercial
products and implement widespread solutions to important societal challenges.
• Volume Growth scalability:
The featured article in the November 2013 in Mechanical Engineering (the
journal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), titled “Why
Manufacturing Matters,” concludes that:
“The companies that scale the latest technologies the
will become the market leaders and reap most of the profit.”
Products and production systems should be designed to scale production volume quickly by designing for
all aspects of manufacturability which must be:
• designed around proven off-the-shelf parts and modules that are selected to be readily
available throughout the anticipated lifespan of the product to avoid
dependence on parts that are hard to get, have long lead-times, incur high
inventory carrying costs, or may become unavailable within the lifespan of the
• Don’t base scalable designs on parts whose availability is limited by
hard-to-expand production capabilities, like electronic parts and photovoltaic
panels that are manufactured in billion dollar factories (“fabs”) that take
years to build.
• avoid basing designs on scarce materials, especially those containing
• concurrently designed with vendor/partners so that all design guidelines are
followed and parts can be easily build on widely available machine tools from
widely available materials on without setup delays.
• designed for quick and easy assembly without the need for firedrills, tribal
lore, scarce resources, and skill and judgement, all of which make production
hard to scale up production volumes because of the difficulty finding and
training these resources.
commercialize research to ensure the above manufacturability is designed in
the first time for rapid deployment. Again, quoting the ASME journal article:
“Firms that scale and deploy innovations rapidly
will remain market leaders.”
• concurrently engineer production equipment and tooling suitable for
initial demand and easily scalable to the highest anticipated demand.
• Build scalability:
Versatile architecture should be designed to allow anticipated order
variation to be built quickly and cost-effectively based optimized modularity on
a versatile platform
• Upgrade scalability:
to allow preplanned plug-and-play upgrading of modules and other forms of
upgradability even at the customers’ sites. The easiest upgrades would be
software programming, configurability, adjustability.
• Flexibility in use: to allow users to quickly change settings, setups,
parameters, and add on modules with low-cost mechanisms that are easy to use and
easy to convert to programmable versions, some of which are available as
plug-and-play modules from the same suppliers.
• Scalability for Surges, Growth, and Evolving Markets:
• Design product in synergistic families that are versatile enough to quickly
adapt to volatile demand, growth, and evolving markets
• Design products for lean and build-to-order that can quickly adapt to evolving
Flexibility is even more important if
forecasts are vague for potential markets.
These are the general principles. Pass
around this article or URL to educate and stimulate interest
In customized seminars and
webinars, these principles are presented in the context of your
company amongst designers implementers, and managers, who can all discuss
feasibility and, at least, explore possible implementation steps
In customized workshops, brainstorming sessions
apply these methodologies to your most relevant products, operations, and supply
Next will be a Scalability Example on scaling up renewalable energy:
Scalability is the key to implementing renewable enerby fast
The most important application for scalability is for alternative energy
Current alternative energy solutions are
just not ready to scale up to world-wide implementation because:
1) they are inherently too expensive as was pointed out in the first
section titled “What is keeping solar cost high now?” at
2) they are nowhere near scalable enough. Even if the motivation
and funds were forthcoming, production of un-scalable designs will bog
down right away with bottlenecks in component production, shipping, and
This article will show how it
can be made ready to scale up quickly.
Rapid, widespread deployment of solar power
Others say what is needed is rapid, concerted deployment of a portfolio
of emerging and mature energy technologies. Some of hese solutions must be
and designed for scalability.
The conclusion of the opening section of the article on Half Cost Solar (
http://www.halfcostproducts.com/half_cost_solar.html ) is that “mature”
solar power is simply not ready to be scaled up it first must be
commercialized to overcome those manufacturability and cost limitations with
systems that are designed to be scalable for rapidly large-scale
The lesson here for new technology development is to start
commercializing research now to avoid having to “invent under pressure”
and then rush prototypes into production, which causes most of the problems
cited in the linked low-cost-solar article and prevents the development of
low-cost scalable products.
Fortunately, this commercialization can be done right away within existing
budgets and resources and not have to wait for large-scale resources to try to
scale up non-scalable designs.. The next section shows how to do that.
The conclusion for solar power is that commercialization of mature and emerging
technologies must be done now so scalable solutions will be ready for
Renewable energy technologies must be quickly
and (re)designing for manufacturability, low-cost, and scalability, This
preparatory design work could be done now within existing budgets to be
ready for widespread implementation whenever greater motivation and funding are
How to Make Solar Power Scalable
First Step: Minimize Cost to ultra-low-cost levels. Expanding
renewable power will require that equipment is affordable enough for
widespread implementation around the world, which may need to be done very
quickly if everyone waits too long until demand surges. Minimizing cost for Concentrated Solar Power was addressed
in the companion article on Half Cost CSP Solar at:
That article opened with the section
“What is keeping solar cost high now?” and is followed by sections on
“General Participles for Designing Low-cost Products” and then a promising
example: “Heliostat Mirror Guidance at Half the Cost or Better,” which is
one of the biggest. opportunities to reduce half the cost for power generation
and eliminate the vast majority of the cost for heat production for industrial
purposes and key to electricity power fields.
The next steps: follow the remaining steps after cost in the opening
Scaling up production volumes by orders of magnitude quickly
In order to scale up solar power:
- All the parts and raw materials must be readily available
in the quantities needed all over world. The biggest obstacle to this
availability is the very common practice of engineers saying "here is the
part I need - buy it!" But "it" may not be scalable or not even
available now for any significant consumption. Rather, designers
should specify a minimum spec and purchasing agents should be look for the
most available selections above that spec. Ironically, such a search
will probably find higher performing parts at lower costs if they are in
greater widespread use.
- Shipping delays must be eliminated. Trans-oceanic shipping
can take weeks for heavy equipment across oceans, designs must be scalable
enough to be sourced and built world-wide. That means common enough
parts and materials that can be scale up quickly around the world. In the
author's Build-to-Order book, the section "World Trade in the Era of
Build-to-Order" Chapter 6), the slogan is Build-to-Order favors local
production for local consumption.
- Fabrication will have to be designed to be done on widely
available machine tools, not specialized machines or large
mega-machines, which can be avoided by the techniques presented in the
Steel Reduction Workshop.
This workshop also shows how to avoid dependence on skilled labor, for
instance, replacing weldments with assemblies of CNC machined parts that are
assembled rigidly and precisely by various DFM techniques.
To scale up renewable energy the equipment must be first
commercialized and then designed for manufacturability around widely
available parts and materials to be made without skilled labor on
widely-available machine tools. This preparatory design work needs to
be started now so that when the need and demand appears, the world is ready
to scale up to any volumes.
copyright © 2017 by
David M. Anderson
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