The Seed Factory Project
Project Notebook - Page 1
Frequently Asked Questions 
Why Hasn't This Been Done Before? 
The question naturally arises if this is such a good idea, why has it not been done before? Part of the reason is that until recently computers and automation were not up to the task. Another is that our capitalist system tends to separate production into specialized factories. The oil refinery is separate from the steel mill, which is separate from the auto plant. Because they are separate, you can't optimize the pieces to work together or automate the transfer of parts and materials between them. Finally, partial versions of a seed factory do, in fact, exist. Some advanced builders of automated machine tools use their own products to make more of themselves, and some factories use robots to make more robots.
Project Discussion 
Why Should We Do This? 
The question will come up: "Why do this project? What problems does it solve?" We can sort the answers into technical, economic, and social, but in general we feel current industrial and social organization has deficiencies that self-owned, community-oriented, flexible production can address. Current business models rely on large, specialized factories, in diverse locations, under separate ownership from each other and their employees, with maximizing profit as the primary motivation. This business model creates the following issues:
- Large, specialized factories tie up a lot of capital in their construction, and do not respond well when technology or markets change. If the factory becomes uneconomic, it can have a disproportionate impact on a local community. Although economies of scale can apply to mass production, there are dis-economies to having a pyramid of highly paid management and slower reaction time of a large organization.
- The diversity of locations imposes long shipping distances for raw materials and finished products. This consumes energy, takes time, and requires multiple handling at each end of the shipping routes to load an unload. Physical separation makes it more difficult to automate tasks, or integrate flows between operations to gain efficiency.
- The separation of suppliers and customers, and owners and employees, tends to make them "other entities" to be taken advantage of, rather than collaborating for mutual gain. Thus the incentives for the owners are to reduce or eliminate wages in order to keep more for themselves, leading to job insecurity for the people who were doing the actual work.
- While increasing profit is well known to be a strong motivator, the modern world is more complex, and other factors are more important than in the past. The single-purpose corporate model of profit above all else is ill-suited to the modern environment. Considered as corporate entities, they must be forced to behave towards other goals against their basic nature. This creates inefficiencies in compliance overhead and inevitable attempts to avoid meeting societal goals. It would be better if goals besides profit were designed into the structure of an organization in the first place.
What is the Technical Background? 
Tool Replication and Growth - Humans have used tools to make more tools since the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) development of sharpened stones and controlled fire. The whole of our technological civilization has been built up from simpler starter elements over time. Developing nations since the Industrial Revolution have used the virtuous loop of coal, steel, and steam to increase quantities of all three, and spin off other products powered by them. So in this sense the concept of a growing industrial capacity that makes more of itself is not new. As a continuation of this historical process we plan to use existing tools and machines to build the prototype machines for seed and final factories.
The new aspects to this project are treating the production and end users as an integrated system, purposely designing the elements so they can copy their parts, basing them on widely available and sustainable material and energy resources, and using modern automation and robotics to make them highly productive.
General Purpose Factories (Ford Rouge Plant)