Even though our project may seemed relatively simple than the other groups, the skills we have acquired are no fewer than they do. After all, the main goal of this project is not just to learn how to build a machine, but to learn how to cope with problems when we face them. As a concluding part, we have divided what we have learned into 4 parts:
Before the start of the manufacturing stage, our group has estimated the time needed to finish the whole machine, and it was within the 4-week limit. However, things were not going as smoothly as we had expected: there are not enough tooling machines for all the groups, the delays faced when ordering the parts, as well as failed designs which has to be done all over again. Through these events, we have learned that it is necessary to have a flexible schedule planned before the manufacturing stage; so that other tasks can be carried out even if one of them went wrong.
Punctuality is also a key factor in finishing the project within the time limit. If one member is late then the working pace of the whole group might be affected.
Even though we had training in the IC for almost a year, we still had difficulties when manufacturing the parts; a simple circular disc might take up to 3 to 4 hours to finish. This reminds us of the difference between a technician and an engineer. Being an engineer, our main task is to solve the problems faced when designing a product, and leave the production part for the technicians, who are far more skillful on the tooling machines than we do.
Another fact we had discovered when doing this project is the difference between a computer-drawn diagram and a real situation. What can be fitted in the program may not fit in reality.
Any project would not have gone well if the group members cannot communicate
with each other. Thankfully our group did not have problem with it since
we had known each other for a long time. The main communication problem
we faced is when purchasing the parts in the shops. Unlike supermarkets,
which you can choose from the shelves, you need specify what you need to
buy, the specifications or even the model number.
In the early stages of design, we have thought of buying all the best parts we can find then assemble them together. In this way less working time will be reduced but the cost will be very expensive. Being an engineer, we not only have to built a good machine, but also doing it at a reasonable cost. Therefore we discussed again on which parts could be manufactured by ourselves. In the end the cost was greatly reduced, about less than half then the original.