“Reinventing the wheel” seems to be a common and universally disparaged practice in industry today. The reference suggests that employees or departments waste time and resources creating a product or a process that has been created before and that works just fine. But what if there were a logical — if unfortunate — reason why so many people in manufacturing reinvent the wheel, and what if that reason could be overcome? Scarce resources would be conserved and more time would be spent inventing new wheels instead of reinventing old ones.
At Machine Research, we have observed that reinventing the wheel happens in large part because legacy knowledge is not as searchable and accessible as it could be. Humans tend to take the path of least resistance and thus wouldn’t likely choose to start over rather than using knowledge that already exists… unless that existing knowledge were inaccessible. We believe that making knowledge more accessible is the key to leveraging knowledge reuse as opposed to reinventing the wheel again and again and again.
Further, in the world of manufacturing, knowledge is associated with the making of physical objects. Today, physical objects are predominantly described and specified by three-dimensional CAD models. Because manufacturing processes are always associated with specific objects, it stands to reason that if we were able to find similar objects quickly through the power of shape search, then we would also provide faster, more direct access to the manufacturing processes associated with them. At Machine Research, we dream of a day when knowledge is easily found and made available for productive reuse. We believe shape search is the key to finding and reusing manufacturing knowledge.