|First Industrial Revolution: Evans Flour Mill|
The Utah Chapter of the International Council on Systems Engineering has invited me to be their guest speaker for February 2017.
My blog readers get a little preview here.
I will be speaking on the following theme:
A unique confluence of historical events has led to the proliferation of complex systems that are increasingly being employed for longer and longer lifetimes. And a unique confluence of challenges and talent has led to the complex system sustainment management model.
This will also be the theme for my paper for AIAA’s Space 2017 next Fall. So this is helping me write the abstract to get the paper approved. (They want 1,000 words.)
The First Industrial Revolution spanned the years 1760 to 1830 and was characterized by machines taking over what was a lot of hand work. When people, such as Evans, came up with pulleys and other machines to improve his production of flour, the “factory system” was conceived. From 1840 to 1870, steam was used extensively in transportation and in large buildings that we would even today recognize as factories.
From the Second Industrial Revolution, I literally draw a line (in this case a red one) directly to the American Civil War which many consider the first industrialized war. We now have all these more and more complex machines, even systems, appearing as weapons. Two favorites of mine are railroads (with all their tracks and stations and trestles and water stops and etc) and the use of balloons (supported by rail cars, hydrogen generators, etc) as recon to see behind enemy lines.
It is a natural flow from the American Civil War to the highly efficient industrial killing machines of WWI (e.g. machine guns, gas, ballistic projectiles, etc) and the extremely brutal use of aerial bombing by the Germans in the Spanish Civil War. This was, of course, a lead-in to the German Blitzkrieg of WWII and the Allies use of strategic bombing in both Germany and Japan.
It is interesting to note that many were frustrated by the Civil War generals’ lack of understanding of air power. The trench warfare of WWI inspired many military tacticians to explore the idea of air power as a game-changer. It was the American Army Signal Aviation Section that created the air doctrine that informed warriors like Curtis LeMay to perfect aerial strategic bombardment during WWII.
Post WWII, we had plenty of evidence that the US would not be safe from aerial bombardment just because we lay on the other side of the world from our industrialized enemies. And any feeling that such a massive undertaking was simply too large a program for any potential enemies was wiped out by Sputnik passing overhead in low Earth orbit. If the Russians could put an atomic bomb on the rocket that launched Sputnik, we would be completely vulnerable.
So, driven by the performance of complex weapon systems, we invented even more complex weapon systems to provide deterrence: ICBMs.
Meanwhile, on the non-military side, the application of lessons learned in the Second Industrial Revolution led to great improvements in civilian life such as water, sewage, transportation, and Bell Labs’ telephone systems. But not just phones. Bell Labs developed or help develop radar, fire control, acoustics communications, air defense, underwater systems, command and control, and many other special projects. (See A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System, National Service in War and Peace (1925 to 1975) written by the members of the technical staff of Bell Labs and edited by M.D. Fagan.)
Bell Labs’ struggle with all this technology led to the invention of the discipline of systems engineering in the 1940’s. The Navy and the Air Force took this discipline and perfected it as they perfected sea launched and ground based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.
The University of Southern California, realizing the complexity of the 20th Century started training graduate students in the art of systems management. Most of these students were Air Force officers.
When these masters of systems management started managing ICBMs, they applied the systems engineering and systems management principles they learned to sustaining our deployed ICBM forces.
In a future post, I will relate how the unique characteristics of ICBMs led to their long service life and also led to the need for and creation of a unique weapon system sustainment management model required to keep them available, reliable, accurate, and hard against nuclear attack, that is, a viable deterrent.