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Blog - Category Archives: Engineering Notes
Richard Lundin

I had a conversation with a potential client several months ago about doing a redesign of their newly introduced product. Since they were not reengaging the initial design firm, I asked why. Their reasoning in short was that the product did not behave as they expected it to under changing conditions external to their product, and thought the design firm should have designed for that. I asked what the product specification called for under those circumstances and was asked “what is a product specification?” That answer said it all; the process went wrong at the beginning. That’s not to say that starting with a napkin sketch won’t work, but a clear and detailed product specification is the mainstay of a successful product design. It saves development time, money, and can … Read More +

Richard Lundin

Problems that stem from using a single-source supply chain combined with the lack of Intellectual Property (IP) ownership were recurring themes during my visit to a U.S. Military depot last month. During a half hour briefing I attended, the brass made two things clear to department heads and visiting suppliers. First and foremost was a clear directive to buy the IP rights when paying for development of an engineered product or a weapons system. The second was to obtain more than one source for a service or part. Sole sourcing without purchasing the IP saved money for the military in the late 20th century. But the decision has come back to haunt them. They are paying millions for reverse engineering because they don’t have access to the IP, or the production … Read More +

Brian Terhune

Outsourcing product development can make any OEM nervous. All of us with experience in the field have seen first-hand what happens when outsourcing goes wrong—higher costs and time-to-market delays reduce sales volume, lower profitability, and shorten product life cycle. In a perfect world, OEM project managers communicate their general product requirements to the development partner and establish a collaborative relationship with them. Both parties work together to define the exact requirements for the new product, and the development partner demonstrates the capability to execute. But this thirty-thousand-foot view makes outsourcing product development sound easier than it really is. In the real world, projects stall due to a myriad of problems such as: Vague or conflicting product requirements Design solutions that fail to perform as expected Processes that don’t include validation … Read More +

Earlier this month Lee Teschler, editor of Machine Design magazine, visited with Darrel Baker and Rick Lundin about their experiences with outsourced electronic development projects gone wrong. Read Lee’s March 18 blog post on their conversation.

Darrel Baker

Here’s an interesting article on Engineering Design Challenges from Product Design and Development. I agree. Controlling costs has risen in importance for our product development customers. Probably a function of the growth of global sourcing solutions.

Companies undertaking electronic product development for the first time, or those without sufficient resources to complete a project inhouse, often need help that doesn’t permanently increase company overhead. If this is the case with your company, domestic outsourcing is the way to go. Domestic outsourcing—Benefits of outsourcing without the offshore risks. Shorter delivery time frames for products Better communication No compromise of intellectual property No unforeseen political problems affecting the trading partners After a company identifies the need for outside product development, screening for the most suitable partner and mitigating risk are vital to producing the device or system that meets company standards. Once the screening is complete, establishing a productive working relationship with your chosen outsourcing partner is crucial for success. Two checklists, researched and created by a colleague … Read More +

Brian Terhune

How do you keep a project out of the weeds? Project Management—it’s a part of electronic product development most people would rather not think about, but effective project management can make the difference between a project that goes off the rails and one that smoothly navigates the challenges that come along with innovative design. The key is to practice adaptive project management. Adaptive project management means recognizing issues as they arise, evaluating and communicating how they may affect the success of the project, and implementing changes as necessary.  This dynamic approach to project management ensures that unforeseen challenges don’t endanger the project schedule and that everyone involved—the design team and the customer—is kept informed of changing realities on the ground. Successful Project Management is primarily based on 4 key aspects: … Read More +