What do you mean by "actual engineering"?
- the UK makes and develops satellites
- designs, develops and produces a huge number of jet engines - is home to nearly all the Formula 1 teams
- the Nissan car plant in Sunderland produced 500,000 cars last year which is a huge engineering challenge and is now the home to the main production of the LEAF electric car
- Teeside is still the home of chemical processing
- companies like Alert Me are leading the charge in smart energy consumption
- last time I checked Arm were stil based in Sheffield and Cambridge and scaring the pants off Intel
- last, but not least, BAE systems is in the midst of producing some of the best and most advance submarines in the world and commissioning nuclear reactors in the process.
I do however agree with your first point - although there are a lot of wind farms around now which is nice to see
His dig about a Frech company was just a fashionable quip that is doing the rounds right now - yes they are better at some things than us but likewise we sell them planes etc so each nation plays to it's strengths
In terms of pure engineering I agree it doesn't matter who owns the company; in terms of whether engineering is having its full impact on Britain (other than by providing jobs) I'd say it does - if profits get moved to other countries and taxes paid elsewhere, we're losing out and I'd like to see more UK owned companies for that reason.
Citation needed. They are Coca Cola manufacturing plants all around the world. From Bolivia to India and from Germany to Albania, and they don't have any interesting manufacturing/engineering problems.
Nothing that wasn't already solved in the US HQs anyway.
My citation is a friends Dad who was a lead engineer on CocaCola's line. Your citation the Bolivia etc not having interesting problems would be?
Sure, but you wrote that (the UK one) "has some very interesting manufacturing/engineering problems". What you describe is perfectly normal engineering problems, that kind that any kind of factory has.
Nothing out of the ordinary, or anything that points to any special UK engineering in the UK CocaCola factories (which was what you provided it as an example of).
>My citation is a friends Dad who was a lead engineer on CocaCola's line. Your citation the Bolivia etc not having interesting problems would be?
Having visited two of them and seen the production process. Pretty much standard stuff all around. Back in the day (it's now closed) we had one even in my hometown in Europe (in a place of around 120K people).
I think our definition of interesting is different as I find nearly anything in manufacturing interesting, standard or not, and making them better/faster is always a problem to me - I recently toured one of our suppliers who supplies our extruded parts and I was fascinated about how they use their machines, not one of which was less than 25 years old, to make useful shapes and multi material extrusions - on the surface everything was standard and run of the mill but below the surface it was much more interesting.
(Speaking of plant inspections, the job of inspector is one of those high-stress but über-high pay seasonal jobs you never hear about. $200k+ for 6mo/yr of work, but it's ~2000hrs of work compressed into that period.)
Anyhoo, growing up I was privileged to tour a number of different power plants in the US, and -- besides the scale of things Charlie notes in the blog post -- the thing that struck me most was that even though the designs were often very similar (all PWRs of some sort), the implementations were very different. Even though reactor design may be identical between plants, all the peripheral support infrastructure and all the wiring & plumbing is unique to each plant, and keeping track of everything is hugely complex.
As an aside, and the bring relevance to HN, because of the complexity of nuclear power plants -- particularly the plumbing and backup systems -- there is a huge market for simulation services (which is something Areva pretty much owns globally at this point), which consists of both electrical/mechanical engineering and software work. They literally build a control room for a specific power plant, identical to the actual control room but with software simulating all the inputs/outputs and allowing them to run all sorts of scenarios (and to train new operators). My dad had a few job openings for software engineers who had some nuke background, and positions requiring only a few years experience were paying $100-120k base, and this is in small city Virginia (Lynchburg) where you can buy a decent house for $150k.