MADE IN THE USA?

MADE IN THE USA?

I remember listening to a popular radio personality with a call-in show one night. He was asked by the caller for advise on developing an idea they had for market. They had taken it to a few companies for help with the design and sourcing and they were pushed to go offshore for the manufacturing. They were asking if there were any US companies they could work with or if he thought they should go offshore (basically to China). He went on to explain that with the cost of labor being so low in China, that they were probably best to follow the advice they had received.

I hear this story a lot, it seems many people in our industry are simply farming everything out to China or worse yet India. In one case I even had someone come to us that had hired a Chicago firm for the 3D design of their product. The company in Chicago even farmed out the design work. The final design had come back so bad they were desperate for someone to fix it.

While China, India, and other third world countries may have cheap labor, they may not be the most cost effective place to source products. In fact, unless the product is very labor intensive to make, making it in the USA is probably your best solution. Shipping costs and quality issue can easily drive the cost up higher than the increased labor cost involved with making it domestically. Many times some simple design changes can greatly reduce the labor to make a product.

On top of all this, there is a language barrier that can easily lead to misunderstandings. There are often both a lack of accountability and common deceptive practices to navigate as well.  And, there is nothing worse than getting a shipment of defective products and then realizing that getting them replaced will not only take the time to manufacture them but 6 weeks on the water to ship them as well. My advice is keep it here in the states if at all possible.

WHEN TO REDESIGN?

WHEN TO REDESIGN?

A question for the ages. There are really a lot of reasons to redesign like modernizing the product, adding features, etcetera. But there are couple not so obvious reason I want to talk about here.

Many times as a product is developed, initial volumes are low and the focus is getting a working product to market. The methods and materials used to produce it are based on low volume and are geared to keep the initial startup costs low. After all, if it is truly new, how can you be sure if it will actually sell? And, it’s not unusual for a company to just keep producing it that way if it is successful.

So the first reason would be part cost reduction.

Case in point. I worked for a company a number of years ago that had developed a product that used two aluminum parts. They were machined from 1’ thick aluminum material into two half circle parts and each one had 6 holes machined into them. One set cost $40.00. even after the product had become successful they just kept making them the same way for years. Eventually we redesigned the product and were able to create the half circle shape as an aluminum extrusion with the holes included in the profile. The extrusion was then sliced into 1” lengths to give us the finished shape. The new part did not have to be solid so we were able to substantially lower the weight and cost. The cost of a set with the new design was only $5.00. We actually wound up with a better product and a huge savings.

The second reason I want to discuss here is to reduce assembly cost.

Case in point. We were manufacturing a stand from an aluminum

extrusion. The feet for the stand where also fabricated from the same extrusion. Holes were drilled for mounting them to the uprights, for mounting the wheels and for attaching the cross-bracing. End caps were cut from aluminum strapping, drilled and fastened to each end of the extrusion feet. It took 30 minutes per stand to fabricate the feet. By redesigning the feet as a plastic injection molded part the need for the bracing was eliminated, the wheels were just snapped in and two self-taping screws held each [foot] to the uprights. The total assembly time for the feet was reduced to 3 minutes. Besides the obvious labor savings this had a huge impact on the backlog in the department that made them. So we had a better looking and higher quality solution that improved customer service and reduced cost.

If you have a part or product that is difficult or time consuming to produce, why not give DREaM a call and put our 30+ years of experience to work for you.

Design Smart, Design Right!

SO YOU HAVE AN IDEA, NOW WHAT?

SO YOU HAVE AN IDEA, NOW WHAT?

This is the question that has stopped many a good idea. There are websites and TV commercials that claim they will get your idea patented and “published to industry”. Usually they will just mail your design to a bunch of random companies or worse yet, provide a list for you to do it. They know full well you are probably wasting your money, but they’re more than happy to take it from you.

The truth is the best idea in the world is likely useless unless you can sell it. Fortunately, we live in a time when the internet makes things a little easier… mind you I said a little easier. With sites like Amazon, EBay and the like, you can get your product out there with a little hard work.

Often the first step in the process of launching a product is design and 3D modeling. What’s more, without a comprehensive understanding of manufacturing processes and materials, most “design” companies haven’t a clue of how to Design for Manufacture (DFM). Our services range from initial design all the way through prototype, sourcing, and manufacturing. Find us on the web to learn more about DFM or better yet give us a call today to setup your initial consultations, which is always free. Let us help you find the most cost effective way to get your product made and ready to go to market.

Design Smart, Design Right!

What is “Micro-Iterative Collaboration”.

What is “Micro-Iterative Collaboration”.

This is a term coined by my partner (Dan Jr.) to describe our unique design approach. In the beginning of my carrier as an engineer we contracted a number of machines for automation. Typically, we would have a meeting to discuss our needs and the contractor and they would go back to their office to create a quote. They may call a few times for clarification and then they would return with a quote. We would discuss what they were going …to build and if all looked good they would get an order and build the machine. It seemed at every instance what we got was lacking in one way or another. Typically, what followed was a push and shove with the contractor, they would make a few changes and eventually we would live with what we got. The problem wasn’t that the contractor didn’t want to deliver what we wanted, but rather the process. We made every attempt to fully explain our requirements and the contractors made every effort to understand them. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to think of every possible issue that may arise and the contractor will by human nature hear what you are saying in terms of what they have done in the past. The contractor based their cost on what they understood our requirements were. They only had what we told them and didn’t understand the process as we did. They may have built in some contingency for surprises, but not enough to make drastic changes. It didn’t take long until we decided it was in our best interest to build our one machines. After all, who understood our requirements better than us.

“Micro-Iterative Collaboration” is a process I developed through over 30 years designing product and machinery. In the process we make every effort to involve the client in the design process. After all they are the true subject experts. This is usually accomplished using multiple methods depending on the complexity of the project. It may be through emailing concepts, a series of meetings, and/or both during the design process. By bringing the client into the design process early things that might have been overlooked during the initial disclosure can be dealt with before the design is completed. In some cases, they will change the scope and require adjusting the overall cost of the project. But, the sooner they are discovered the less the impact if any. It also helps the client understand how it effects the process and many times the effect on the overall cost of the project can be mitigated. The flip-side of this is there are also occasions where we are over-designing to a standard that is not required and this effects the overall cost of the project in a positive manor. The overall goal of the process is to give the client exactly what they expect by allowing them to make key decisions when it comes to weighing cost benefit.

Dan Sr.

Design Right Engineering and Manufacturing, LLC