The "How It's Made" episode I want to see...

Yeah, there’s an entire ecosystem of machine-builders and process-designers and parts-suppliers for any mass-production setup. The product I write manuals for… we designed the plastic shells, and then went back and forth with a supplier to design the moulds. Another supplier provided batteries, and they had their production setup. We bought off-the-shelf displays, and the display maker has their setup. A company just down the road did the circuit boards, and they had all sorts of machines to do that. And the circuit-board maker called on people who make the chips and electronic components themselves. Other companies would make metal parts and brackets to order.

In this case the final assembly was by hand, but even then there are all sorts of jigs and test fixtures that we would make in house to ensure that the workers could do the same thing repeatable. (I used to program some of the electronic test equipment.)

Really, when you think about it, the complexity of interrelated suppliers for any moderately-complex item like a cellphone, say, is staggering. And then consider the making of cars…

The SDMB continues to fascinate me. There must be someone from every field of expertise in the world. It’s truly amazing.

It must be an amazing progression as a manufacturer goes from small-time to the big-leagues. I like those How It’s Made episodes that start with the company making potato chips in a pot on the stove to this huge production line with a hundred varieties of snack chips flying all over the place. I can see how a large company like General Mills would have a department on hand specifically for designing production lines. I suspected that there must be some industry that makes the makers, so to speak. If they haven’t done so already, that would be a great How It’s Made , or, better yet, Modern Marvels.

Thanks for the interesting conversation.