22 Sep How to work with an engineering company
This guideline tries to explain how a future engineering service customer should prepare his self for an eventually collaboration with a company in this field. In this article we are referring to engineering service with expertise in product design, manufacturing engineering and mechanical and electronics engineering.
For the beginning, if you have an idea of an innovative product and you want your idea to be turned into reality, you will probably think that you only need a manufacturer or prototype service, talk about your idea, probably you expect them to magically read your mind and simply build your product, this story is completely wrong. The engineering design process is quite different. In most of the cases, manufacturers or prototyping services will ask you to provide them a 3D model and drawings of the product. Many manufacturers/prototype providers do not assume they responsibility for design or functionality of your idea. They only physically build pieces according to your 3D models, drawings and technical specifications. In this case, the most important of your project is the design engineering service with which you have start. The design engineer is the one that will create the 3D model and manufacturing drawings, and if needed, they also do technical calculations for you (strength, tolerances, FEM analysis, mechanism conception, velocity and revolution speed and so on). But, keep in mind that if a manufacturer can’t read your mind, neither an engineer does. Overall, we suggest you should be prepared and we try to explain how engineering design process works and how you should prepare yourself.
Set your idea in that manner so it should be clear enough for you to explain easily
First of all, it is likable if you will set what is the main purpose of your idea, why should user buy it, what value will your idea brings to users and what needs does it covers. This is an important thing to think about and I’m sure that all idea come up to cover a specific need of a specific target user. For example, contact lent were invented for sighted people who believe that classic glasses are not comfortable or doesn’t fit with their clothes and accessories.
What’s more, you need to do a research over your idea to see if there are similar existing products, and if there are, you should look for an alternative to improve the existing item, this is what I like to call “technological evolution”. So do not despair if your idea was taken, you should analyze that other item and come up with improvements over it.
Anyway, you idea should be drawn in a sketch. Do it’s kindly recommended to have some sketches. Draw some rough drafts on a sheet of paper, do the outer line and specify the feature you would like to add to your item and where they should be placed, you may noticed that some details you imagine looks somehow different after you draw them on paper. This is what any designer will noticed in the design stage, in some cases, this unclear situations may conduct to a redesign from sketch which means waste of time and money.
Furthermore, if it’s possible and applicable, try to imagine how internals will be placed, especially when your product idea has electronics.
In the end, your product will have a nice shape and practical feature, thank to the engineer expertise and you’re skills in explaining your ideas.
It is also recommended that you may do a documentation and send it to your provider so he will prepare for the following discussion with you. Do not expect that the engineer or designer knows everything, especially if the product you want to be design is less common.
2. Do a mock-up time frame of your project
Whenever you will choose an engineering service or an engineering service along with project managing, you must consider that you are the main project manager of your project. In many cases, you will receive price quotation and time estimations, but be sure that you will be asked if there is a deadline. The good think is that is not necessary for you to answer to this question, but still it’s recommended if you have a time frame in your mind so you know the direction of your project in time terms.
Also, this time forecast will keep you on the route and you will always know the progress of the project that eventually turns in money savings. Don’t forget to keep time and money for adjustments. It’s a high possibility to appear changes over some jobs made some previously (revisions over the design, over the promoting materials, presentation video, website, over the cash flow and so on)
In many cases, design and engineering stage is the turnkey service for your project. You will always start your project with the design stage and after that you will take care prototype, patent, promoting and sell.
Overall, the thing you must be do before get in touch with an engineering company:
- define your idea clearly
- do a research over similar products
- do a research over the services that your project may require (product engineering services, electronic design, software design, prototyping services, marketing, accounting etc.)
- prepare some sketches of your future product, a mock-up image would be great
- prepare a mock-up time frame of your project and eventually a budget
3. Have a close discussion with your future engineering service provider in order to figure out if you are emotionally compatible
Like in every service, the client and provider must be compatible even from emotional point of view. There should be a chemistry between provider and client, especially when we talk about a turnkey service. Talk with your provider and see if you feel comfortable during the discussion, if the provider actually manages to “read your mind”, if he/she understands your needs. If you feel all of those, that means that you both are talking the same language so he or she is the one that can represent your interests.
This emotional chemistry is somehow more important that professionalism it’self, but still, if you consider that your project requires a very high level of professionalism, you should also take a look over the provider’s portfolio and reviews.
To get a better understanding, imagine that a friend of yours recommend you to work with a specific provider motivating that he had a great collaboration and you will be pleased as well. But eventually, you will noticed that your collaboration isn’t that great. How come the same engineering provider service manages to please a client and screw up with another? Well this is because, somehow, people are different so it’s recommended that you would stick up with people with almost same emotions.
For example, there are people that prefer to discuss before act and other that are used to act without too much discussions
- Client (a guy that discuss before acting): Can the front frame be changed from red to white?
- Provider (a guy that prefer to ask without too much discussion): ….
- After 30 min, the provider comes back with a mail with the changed rendering
- Client: I didn’t asked you to actually change the color, I just wanted to know if it’s possible for future versions.
This situation is just a misunderstanding caused by differences between people emotions. If they both would have been the same from emotions point of view, then there would have been avoided time wasting or frustration.
For a short term business relationship or one time project, this emotionally compatibility is less important, problems cause by this fact will surely appear in long term partnership and sometime the collaboration may end up pretty bad even if both client and provider have a high level of professionalism.