The subject is “Agile Hardware Development.”
Before I get into the topic, an explanation why my background is useful in understanding the significance of the topic. To skip it, skip to below the dotted line.
As a college dropout I got a job as a programmer at IBM’s Service Bureau in Caracas in 1960. There were very few software applications for sale and certainly no shrink wrapped software packages. Just about every program was custom built to solve a specific requirement. This gave me an insight into a large variety of businesses from a highway toll collection control to TV surveys. When I was promoted to Systems Analyst I got to install computers at a diversity of businesses including a shoe factory, a bank, a GM assembly plant, and the US Steel mining subsidiary, Orinoco Mining. Later, as a sales rep I had for customers a paper mill, a petrochemical plant, and Purina Mills. After quitting the job market I worked as a management consultant for ten years with a large variety of customers including a sugar mill, a truck spare parts supplier, and the Venezuelan Dredging Institute which kept up ports and waterways. Lastly I developed websites for clients on three continents.
While I don’t claim expertise in any one of these businesses I sure got to know how most businesses operate. Maybe more important for this thread is understanding AGILE from a software perspective (my field) and also from a hardware perspective (my customer’s businesses).
The software Agile Manifesto starts here. You can skip to the next dotted line.
Traditional software development was quite cumbersome. Agile is a true paradigm shift in how software is produced. It appeared after I retired, 2001, 41 years after I got my start.
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.
Joe Justice worked at Tesla and provides insights into how Tesla is different from traditional, incumbent automakers. This is important in understanding why the claim that incumbents know how to make cars while Tesla is just a new kid on the block is misleading. It is precisely because Tesla is not following tradition but an entirely different production paradigm that incumbents have no hope of catching Tesla unless they too ditch the old and bring on the new.
Tesla does not have an assembly line, instead it has a honeycomb of production cells and the robots move the cars from cell to cell. If a cell goes down it does not stop production, the robots take the cars to other functioning cells. This cell structure is what allows Agile Hardware Development to work. Workers at any cell can try new procedures. If the innovation works it is adopted. If not, back to the previous procedure. This allows constant innovation, no need to wait for the next Five Year Plan!
I’ll let Joe explain it… It’s an hour 45 minutes so you better get your popcorn. Some of it is kind of slow…
BTW, this presentation explains why Musk says that Tesla is not the cars but the machine that makes the cars! The Giga factories.
Joe Justice about Agile Hardware Development at Tesla & SpaceX
A live recording of Joe Justice’s (Agile Business Institute) talk at the Agile Hardware Meetup in February 2022 organized by Kathrin Rieken (Jabil Optics) and Christian Müller (proagile.de).