Engineering issues that can be resolved

Engineer to order (ETO) product manufacturing companies are often under severe pressure to provide products that are tailored to customer requirements. The company generally offers product solutions which are loosely termed as ‘standard’. Many companies, however, defer product design until they receive a customer enquiry or purchase order. Engineering must then react to support Sales provide the details necessary to send to the customer, or to allow production to start. This method of working generates many business issues. This section looks at specific issues affecting Engineering processes.


Error rate bug

Error rate

Errors are costly in terms of time, money and creditability. There are numerous opportunities for error to occur, although 99% of these will be due to mistakes made by people. If the information used by Sales is either inaccurate or obsolete errors can be easily imported. Other processes such as estimation are inherently inaccurate regardless of the care taken to apply the methods. Often Sales are forced to rely on historical data, this is a sure way of recycling inaccuracies and defects.

Using a process of product standardisation, the Sales team will be able to use accurate, verified and current information. Information will be immediately available which will reduce selling costs and many opportunities for error will be removed. See more …..


Engineering time hourglass

Engineering time

Engineering time requires careful management. Workload comprises of both scheduled and unscheduled work. Unscheduled work often comes from the need to support sales and production. Also, Engineering must respond quickly to errors that arise which can affect sales and production. Most scheduled work is cyclic, and backlogs can frequently occur. Delayed scheduled work results in further problems in downstream processes and often dissatisfied customers. Sophisticated engineering resource planning systems are used to manage workflow. These plans change daily with new demands on engineering time. Checking procedures used to verify work add further time. See more …..


Product development rocket

Product development

Product development does not always need to be groundbreaking blue sky work. For existing products,  product development should be a continuous incremental improvement process. Well executed incremental product development eradicates problems as they occur and adds features and options as needed. New customer requirements are incorporated providing new sales and extending the life of the product. Product development does not need to be a massive project. One person or a small team can usually achieve incremental product development for a number of products.


Design capacity battery

Design capacity

Bottlenecks in Sales and Engineering can result in the loss of new business and harm existing projects. Bottlenecks occur either due to excessive workload or the cyclic nature of work. Increasing capacity in both sales and engineering teams often requires recruiting more staff. New staff must be trained and it takes time before they are fully proficient. Costs rise proportionately with the number of staff employed.  Errors are more likely to occur when staff are under pressure, and there is a lack of time or resources to complete work. See more …..


Product planning plan

Product planning

Product planning is difficult when the majority of work is reactive to order fulfilment processes. Customer priorities generally take precedence over any planned strategic work. Product development initiatives start off with good intentions. As other priorities take precedence, many product development projects are shelved. By working differently, product design can be planned without pressure from production deadlines. See more …..


documentation paper


Producing good quality documents can take significant time and is costly to produce. Creating good quality documents can add significant workload to Sales, Engineering and other departments resulting in workflow bottlenecks. Underestimating the documentation required can have a significant impact on product margins and cash flow. Documentation can be assembled together with the configuration of a product, reducing a time-consuming task to a few seconds. See more …..


Change management clock

Change management

In this section, we consider change management regarding product specifications. Changes may occur for many internal and external reasons. Changes tend to have a more significant impact when they occur later in the business process. External changes may result from, the customer changing the specification or a supplier unable to deliver a critical component. Internal changes may occur as a refinement of the design process, as new information becomes available. Further changes can occur due to solution optimisation or the resolution of a  problem, such as a budget issue. By working differently, change can be responded to quicker with less impact on the business and the customer. See more …..


Product rule tick

Product rule

In some companies, product rules may not be easy to locate. Occasionally the need or availability of a rule may not be readily visible. Without the use of the product rule, major errors are likely to occur. On occasions, product specialists carefully guard knowledge wrongly perceiving the knowledge increases their value with the organisation. Hoarding knowledge is bad for the company. Knowledge needs to be readily available to everyone authorised to access it. See more …..


Information library book

Information library

Finding the most current and comprehensive product information is essential to Sales, Engineering and Production. It is typical for the storage of information to be in numerous locations across many departments. Individuals are known to hold valuable data and information exists in several different types of media. Knowing that information is current and reliable is a challenge when there is no central depository or responsibility.

By working differently, companies can resolve information location problems.  Quality information can be available to anyone authorised to access it with the certainty that the information is the most current. See more …..


Product integration cross

Product integration

Product integration issues can damage customer creditability and be costly to resolve. Products should integrate with products which they are intended to connect. Components should integrate internally with other components within the same product. Internal integration issues can cause additional work during the execution of a product. Costs escalate if integration issues occur once the product is delivered.


Sales handover hands

Sales handover

Sales handover processes are required when responsibility passes from Sales to Engineering or Production. The meetings are used to clarify any uncertainties in the information being handed over and customer requirements.  Meetings attended by representatives from each department. Often the information supplied by sales is incomplete and requires engineering effort to complete the design before passing to production for manufacture. By working differently, product information can be passed from sales to production with the need for additional engineering. See more …..


Engineer profile person

Engineer profile

In some companies, product design engineers do not receive sufficient recognition. Their role in the company is often to provide incremental changes to established products rather than adding value by providing innovative solutions. Companies working this way miss out on opportunities to introduce new products frequently. By working differently, companies can attract highly qualified engineers and change the competitiveness of the business. By working differently, companies can raise the engineer profile helping to attract first-class designers.