Teamwork and quality data are at the heart of design process
By Tom Hoffman, CEO/President
During the discovery process preceding the design meeting, Hoffman establishes non-negotiable elements like the physical envelope, materials and technical mandates for RPM, torque, gear train backlash, and available electrical and environmental requirements. “This arms us with an understanding of the negotiable elements and specifications that are variable. We also consider both upstream and downstream possibilities for incorporation into our design,” says Krieger, “Customers are always appreciative of the extra steps.”
Our custom project veteran, Ray Krieger, leads many design sessions. Ray says most design meetings wrap up in about an hour. And most of them take place in one or more of three ways:
• Simple teleconference
• E-mail conversations
• If complex ideas need to be aired and discussed, Hoffman uses services like Citrix’ GoToMeeting so that computer screens can be shared.
One example of a successful design process is the forward-looking infrared assembly shown on the left. The design needed to meet aircraft rating standards. And it had to withstand excessive vibration during flight. By discovering these requirements in advance, at the design meeting we were able to offer an optimal motor drive and ideal linear actuator. We knew in advance what we could provide in terms of motion adapters and vibration mounts. Read more about the solution here.
Most design meetings employ a simple agenda -- there is no pro-forma script to be followed. Once everyone is conferenced-in, we ask the customer to update the requirements.
To the extent feasible, our engineering team always
- Looks first to our extensive line card of off-the-shelf mechanical motion hardware -- linear actuators, motors, gear trains etc.
- Years of working with our mechanical motion OEMs gives us a leg up when factory modifications to a standard product can solve the problem.
- In other cases, we have been able to make modifications in-house.
Some projects require a fully customized solution. Our engineers are prepared for demanding requirements -- after all, customers come to us because they have been unable to arrive at a local solution. And most of our projects use mechanical component designs that we outsource to trusted and accommodating machine and metal craft shops that we have partnered with for years.
The deliverable in this process step is the priced proposal including prototypes (assuming that all parties are comfortable with the scope and terms of the project). Upon acceptance, Hoffman gets to work building the prototypes. Once they are ready, we meet again to evaluate and adapt the assembly for the problem.