Engineering in the Color Economy
What is engineering in the color economy?
We explore facets of sustainable economic models: Green, Blue, Yellow, and Orange.
Where do you fit in now? Where would you like to be? And how can you make design choices within each (or all!) of these color economies?
You can find Dr. Rhonda Farrell at Global Innovation Strategies, or you can find her on Linked-In. Business and Management Consultant – Global Innovation Strategies (gblinnovstratllc.com)
A highlight about each of the color economies from Santandar: www.santander.com/en/stories/sustainable-economy-one-colour-for-each-challenge
Green economy (or green industry) – sustainable methods that put environmental issues at the forefront
For more about electric boats, visit Flux Marine: www.fluxmarine.com
Blue economy – using resources efficiently
Books by Gunter Pauli (author of The Blue Economy): www.goodreads.com/author/list/195949.Gunter_Pauli
More about the Circular Economy and Ellen MacArthur: ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview
Yellow economy – interconnection, networks, and AI
The “Made in a Day” series for TV and streaming: www.imdb.com/title/tt12833474/
Orange economy – products with intellectual value, or creations that spark new, innovative ideas.
More about the orange economy from a financial institution: www.santander.com/en/stories/orange-economy
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We may be working in different industries, producing different products from each other, but there’s one thing that unifies all of us, and that’s engineering. Within engineering, we are working in different economies. Do you know what color economy that you’re working in now and where do you think you might wanna work in the future? I’m going to share some things that I learned about from the recent conference I attended after this brief introduction.
Hello and welcome to Quality During Design, the place to use quality thinking to create products, others love for less. Each week we talk about ways to use quality during design, engineering, and product development. My name is Dianna Deeney. I’m a senior level quality, professional, and engineer with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing and design. Listen in and then join us. Visit quality during design.com.
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I recently attended a conference and it gave me a lot of ideas and inspiration and some things that I wanted to share with you. The conference that I just went to was the IEEE Women in Engineering Conference. I was honored to be able to participate and present and talk about technical design reviews and how as engineers, we can do better than those bullet slide decks. Of course, I didn’t just show up and present and then disappear. I stuck around and listened to other people giving their presentations about what they’ve been working on. One of the presenters is a veteran of industry, and I’ve been following her and her work for many years. Dr. Rhonda Farrell is the CEO of the Global Innovation Strategies, and she did a presentation about the different economies that are affecting engineers and how they work. I’m going to share a little bit about what I learned from Dr. Farrell and her presentation with some links that maybe you can find out more information if you’d like to.
As engineers, we’re normally heads down, get it done, kind of people. We like to know what we’re working on and then get the job done. But it’s a little different today, even more so now than when I started in engineering. There’s a rainbow of economic growth models related to sustainable economies, and they’re changing the world and how we work and they directly affect us engineers. We need to lift our heads up and look around to what is here now and think about where we fit in as engineers in our industries, and then take the next step and think about where do we wanna go?
When people refer to sustainable economies, they refer to them in four different colors, a green, blue, yellow, and orange. Let’s get into each of these types of economies and see what they’re about.
Green economy or the green industry is a little bit obvious. It’s about sustainable methods that put environmental issues at the forefront. We’ve all been really familiar with the green economy or the green industry. The three R’s reduce, reuse, and recycle. Thinking about the environment and the waste streams that we’re creating when we’re engineering products. Something I learned while at the conference was more about the maritime industry. The boating industry is changing from diesel to electricity, which is forcing many other changes. It’s dictating how the boat structures are made, what they’re made out of, how they’re shaped and what they look like. It was interesting to see how changing out the motor of a boat from a diesel or gas powered to an electric wasn’t just a one for one change. It is completely changing the industry and how they’re sourcing materials and the design of things. I don’t think we need to spend a whole lot of time on the green economy because I think we’re all really familiar with it.
The blue economy: Think of vast oceans and the blue earth. The blue economy is centered around using resources efficiently. The person who coined the blue economy wrote a book about 12 years ago called “The Blue Economy”. The author’s Gunter Pauli. He has since authored many other books about this kind of a topic. He’s an economist. The blue economy is all about only using what you need, using what’s easily and locally available and keeping waste to a minimum, or thinking about how to reuse things once they’re done. If you’ve heard of a circular economy, the blue economy I think fits within this.
The yellow economy is all about interconnection, networks, artificial intelligence. Industry 4.0 is part of this economy. This is when we are using technology to be more productive while producing less waste. People are part of the focus. It’s not that robotics are replacing people, it’s that robotics are used to enable precision and protect people. I just watched a couple of episodes of a TV series “Made in a Day”. It’s streaming on Disney+. The production of Tesla cars was the first episode and it featured big equipment, robotics, and people working together in the assembly line. The robotics were used for precision welding and moving heavy parts. The people assembled most of the electronics into the frame, and they use these retractable seats on the end of large arms to be able to fit for assembly, making it easier for them to perform their task while protecting their bodies and promoting better ergonomics. I would view that kind of production line as part of the yellow economy.
And finally, we have the orange economy. This includes the innovative ideas and artistic ideas, products with intellectual value or creations that spark new innovative ideas. They are the wellspring of future ideas. Up until this color, it was pretty clear how engineers fit into green, blue, and yellow economies, but how can engineers participate in the orange economy? We share. We attend conferences and talk with other engineers about the things they’re doing. We go to conferences and webinars that are outside of engineering. Maybe we attend events for societies that our cross-functional team belongs to or to events to immerse ourselves into our customers world.
After learning more about the sustainable economy colors, I realized that I think in those types of ways already as an engineer. I’ve been thinking green for a while as many of us have, I think blue in my daily activities and I interact and design with yellow. I also reach out to new experiences, events and people to expand my own orange economy. Dr. Farrell had many more examples of how engineers can fit into this future of colorful economies.
So what’s today’s insight to action? Look up from how you’re engineering today. How does your current role fit within each of these economies? Is there a role that speaks to you that you want to work more in? And how would you do that? How can you use these different color economies to help drive your design decisions? Remember that engineers have a lot to say about how products are designed, assembled, and made, and that affects the green, blue, and yellow economies directly. And then the designs we produce can become part of the orange economy: creations that spark new innovative ideas in others.
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