The Seed Factory Project

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3.0 Hardware Design Tasks

Hardware design proceeds in life cycle stages from concept exploration, through preliminary design, detailed design, to fabrication and test of prototypes at component and complete element levels. Testing may reveal the need to revise designs before they become final. Design requirements are supplied by the systems engineering tasks. In concept exploration, many alternate system approaches are considered, and the elements that make up a phase or location are identified, such as a list of machines and buildings. They are only designed to the point of identifying their major characteristics, such as size, output rate, and power consumption. Preliminary design develops the next level of detail of each element, which are the internal subsystems of which a given element is made. Examples would be motors or control boards for a machine tool. The functions and capacities of these items are identified, and a configuration (physical arrangement) is developed. Detailed design prepares final drawings for parts fabrication, assembly procedures, and other details needed to actually make the element.

Well understood elements, like a metal frame factory building, do not require extensive testing . New designs, or elements put together in new ways, do require some testing to prove they will work as intended. A prototype is a unit built for testing, rather than final units intended for regular production and distribution. Prototypes are often revised and rebuilt if their early testing shows a need for it. In that case, some amount of previous design work has to be redone. Prototypes may be kept by the R&D phase to use for internal production. They may also be used for upgrades to later versions, as a result of more R&D or feedback from final designs that were uses in production in later phases. If not needed for these tasks, and they have useful lives after testing, prototypes may also be delivered to later phases or sold. If they are used up during testing they can be scrapped and recycled.

The seed factory concept is based on making many things internally, rather than buying them from outside. So a heavy emphasis during design is "design for manufacturing". That considers not just how a machine will operate once made, but also how it will be produced and what is needed to produce it. Since our designs will be part of a growth sequence, they can not be done in isolation. Designers must always keep in mind how a particular machine's production will ripple back to ones that precede it.

3.1 - Concept Exploration Studies

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In section we described an approach to finding starter sets. We will follow that process here in reverse phase order, because the inputs to a later phase include outputs from the earlier ones, and in order to develop starter sets and growth paths, we need to know what the end point is. We therefore start with Phase 2B - Industrial Locations as the end point for developed areas with moderate conditions. As noted elsewhere, the variety of possible products across civilization is much too broad for our project team to handle all of them. So our approach is to take a sample of products across the industry sectors of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). This system is developed by the US Census Bureau, together with other national agencies, to organize government statistics for all kinds of industries. It serves as a comprehensive list to start from. We will choose 50 industries or activities from this list, then identify the mature outputs and equipment needed for them. Going back along a growth path from the mature end points, we hope to identify shared starter elements that can reach many of the mature industries. If they can lead to our sample of 50, it is likely they can also lead to many of the other industries in the full set. The full 2,700 major industries and products would be tedious to list here, so they are shown in Data Appendix A.1.

The selection method we used was to count every 54th item from the list of 2700, and either chose that item, or one nearby. We wanted to choose significant industries and products with substantial or complex equipment if possible, in order to derive production and starter kit needs. Please note that these are current industries used as a reference point. Their arrangement and operation may change once automation and integration is applied. Our list of 50 NAICS categories and titles is as follows:

  • (1) 1111 - Oilseed and Grain Farming
  • (2) 2122 - Gravel Quarrying
  • (3) 2381 - Steel Structure Construction
  • (4) 3112 - Flour Milling
  • (5) 3132 - Woven Fabric Mill
  • (6) 3162 - Bootmaking
  • (7) 3231 - Printed Books
  • (8) 3261 - Plastic Pipe
  • (9) 3313 - Aluminum Alloying
  • (10) 3328 - Metal Sand-Blasting
  • (11) 3333 - Automobile Maintenance Equipment
  • (12) 3339 - Power Hand Tools
  • (13) 3345 - Aircraft Instruments
  • (14) 3353 - Electric Generators
  • (15) 3361 - Gasoline and Electric Automobiles
  • (16) 3371 - Wood Furniture and Cabinets
  • (17) 4231 - Automobile Parts Wholesale
  • (18) 4234 - Office Machines Wholesale
  • (19) 4235 - Plumbing Wholesale
  • (20) 4243 - Fabric Wholesale Distribution
  • (21) 4249 - Farm Supplies Wholesale
  • (22) 4422 - Home Furnishings Retail
  • (23) 4441 - Home Centers, Retail
  • (24) 4481 - Clothing Retail
  • (25) 4529 - Supercenter, Retail
  • (26) 4542 - Vending Machines
  • (27) 4831 - Maritime Transport
  • (28) 4881 - Airports
  • (29) 4931 - General Warehouse and Storage
  • (30) 5112 - Software Development
  • (31) 5182 - Data Processing and Hosting
  • (32) 5241 - Insurance Carriers
  • (33) 5311 - Real Estate Leasing
  • (34) 5411-5413 - Legal, Accounting, and Architectural and Engineering Services
  • (35) 5417 - Science and Engineering Research and Development
  • (36) 5612 - Facilities Support
  • (37) 5614 - Business Service Centers
  • (38) 5621 - Waste Collection
  • (39) 6111-6113 - Education, Child to Higher
  • (40) 6211 - Physicians, Ambulatory
  • (41) 6215 - Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
  • (42) 6231 - Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • (43) 7111-7112 - Performance and Sports Venues
  • (44) 7121 - Museums
  • (45) 7211 - Hotels, Full Service
  • (46) 8111 - Automotive Repair and Maintenance
  • (47) 8121 - Personal Care Services
  • (48) 8131 - Religious Locations
  • (49) 8139 - Member Affairs Organizations
  • (50) 9213-9216 - Public Administration Offices