I always have to toot the horn for information verses skilled labor. Coming from a fairly leftist working class person, it may seem a bit odd, but we have to roll with the times. Besides, the same types of people that would be the top dogs in the old union version of production should have the approximate brain capacity needed to implement the theory I am about to lay upon you. In my line of work, ornamental metals fabrication, there are some pretty weird shapes that need to be manufactured.
Once they are designed, there are usually some shop drawings made, and after approval of the fabrication concept nd finish dimensions by the architect or designer, the drawings are given to a master craftsman to turn the concept into reality. One of the drawbacks to this process is that some of the shapes drawn need to be laid out in flat-pattern form before they can be made. The math that is required to perform this (or the old-school tricks) is done by the high-priced journeymen.
Even the simpler parts still need to be laid out, and this is done by other semi-skilled and relatively high-priced workers. With the invention and subsequent improvements in computer aided design of which AutoCAD is the most popular brand), the interpretation stage can be performed on the same desk top and by the same person that does the original drafting. The savings in cost are tremendous for several reasons.
First and most obvious is the ability to have lower skilled and thus lower paid workers on the factory floor manufacturing the items. The information now is just transferred to the shop, as opposed to generated there. Another place where savings are found(and the largest, from my experience) is in the removal of a large amount of mistakes and rework on the factory floor. The computer generated information can be manipulated and tested before it has been manufactured.
A scale model can be printed and folded like origami; the information can even be folded on the computer screen and integrated with other corresponding pieces that have been generated similarly. Other places that offer savings is the ability of the program to be integrated with purchasing and inventory programs (I havent explored these yet, but they are available); the ability to alter or update information immediately and accurately; and the ease to store and retrieve archival information.
I have not been able to convince the powers that be that this system would work. Though one of my superiors is very interested, the owner of the company believes that our industry is so specialized that it would not work in our case, but I know for a fact it would: the last place I worked I helped to implement just this system, and it proved very successful. We do have AutoCAD in use, but it is used only to generate conventional blueprints in lieu of a drafting table. I could prove it, given the chance, but I tire of trying to prove AutoCAD to an autocrat.