Strong and flexible structures

Strong flexible structures rarely fail. Bridges have symmetrical structures subject to dynamic loads as traffic flows across them. By studying how structures behave under dynamic loading, engineers improve their design, making them strong and flexible. Innovation is driven by type of traffic flowing across the bridge and the underlying terrain Yet, at an abstract level, every bridge is a structural span connecting two sides, with symmetry and balance to uniformly distribute the load. Services are like bridges connecting prospect and potential on two sides. They’re subject to dynamic loading as demand and supply flow across in situ and at the time. The height and span depend vary across sectors of the economy. The terrain is defined by strategic industry factors, or costs and risks peculiar to a sector, including competition, regulation, technology, and trends, as customer needs grow and change over time.

Aircraft design also relies on strong flexible structures allowing engines and airframe to withstand extreme levels of loading, during every phase of flight. Large aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III have enormous take-off weights offering tremendous performance and affordance in terms of passengers and cargo. Millions of different parts are dynamically loaded, and yet aircraft design produces the effect of controlled flight. Through turbulence the aircraft maintains altitude, attitude, and speed. During cruise control we can hardly feel any movement. Pilots and computers to make hundreds of tiny adjustments every second during all phases of flight, to make the necessary transitions while maintaining a safe and comfortable for passengers and cargo.

There are tens of thousands of load cases for an airplane. And the design has to be capable of handling each and every one. Some of these load cases are dominated by the need to have stiffness of certain elements while other load cases actually need flexibility to spread the loads. I think it is safe to say that you need to make sure that the airplane is designed in a way that it’s adaptable to any environment it finds itself in and capable of sustaining those environments.

Aircraft design is extremely complex but the millions of parts work together produce the simple effects lift, drag, thrust, pitch, roll, and yaw, with efficiency, integrity, and reliability. There are different kinds of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, but they are subject to the same laws of aerodynamics, rules, and regulations. This helps aircraft engineers more quickly arrive at design envelopes as growing needs of airlines, shipping companies and the military continue to push them. New needs create new possibilities for failure. Good design evolves to accommodate the needs and prevent new modes of failures. Great design sabotages failures.

Filed under: analogies


TL;DR I can audit the design of a service to prevent or predict systemic failure, using a proprietary method called 16F I make intractable problems, tractable by reframing them. I then design solutions that won't create problems elsewhere, now or in the future. The solutions are in the form of services. I focus on system-level structures that give meaning and purpose to the design of lower-level constructs such as processes, interfaces, and interactions. I've spent the last 10 years obsessed with the questions: What are services? Why do they fail? Why do they exist? I'm now writing a book. Design is my dogma. Curiosity is my doctrine. Industrial engineering is my discipline. @mxiqbal

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