IHS Engineering360 (formerly IHS GlobalSpec) recently reached out to INVOTEC Engineering president, John Hanna, for an interview on what companies are looking for in outside engineering firms and how INVOTEC serves those customers. Read an excerpt below, the full article is available on the IHS Engineering360 website.
“Few companies can meet all their design and production process needs in-house, no matter how successful they may be. As competitive pressures mount, companies increasingly are looking to outside engineering firms for help in solving tough manufacturing challenges when it comes to designing, manufacturing and debugging a custom piece of equipment for a new product. Recent research suggests that the global market for engineering services outsourcing is growing at an annual rate in excess of 25%.
John Hanna, president of INVOTEC Engineering, which designs and manufactures custom assembly, inspection and test systems, describes the benefits that can come from reaching outside corporate walls for engineering services. Hanna holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Business Administration from Wright State University and is a registered Professional Engineer in Ohio. He spoke with Engineering360 editorial contributor Larry Maloney.
Maloney: What drives companies to enlist an outside engineering firm to design and manufacture a test, assembly or inspection cell?
Hanna: Our manufacturing customers are skilled in the design and manufacture of their products, but they don’t necessarily possess the same expertise in designing, manufacturing and debugging production equipment. That’s especially true when it comes to a custom piece of equipment, which is often required for a new product. Typically, an outside firm can provide a solution faster and more cost effectively than one developed internally.
Maloney: Can you give some examples of the kinds of projects your team has completed for manufacturers?
Hanna: Projects include everything from complete multi-station “lean” assembly and test systems for medical devices to robotic assembly stations for automotive airbag assemblies. Many projects involve vision-guided laser welding systems, laser markers, or laser material-removal processes across a wide range of medical and automotive applications.
We recently completed a multi-station dial index machine to assemble casters for high-end luggage, as well as a multi-station indexing conveyor assembly system for a medical component manufacturer. In several of our projects, we’ve designed standalone vision inspection and verification systems used at the end of an assembly process. Besides machine vision, the technologies involved include automated assembly, leak testing, force and torque measurement, crimping, welding, liquid dispensing, weight measurement, pressing, induction heating, motion control, robotics, pneumatics, and laser processes.
(View our Project Portfolios for more details)
Maloney: What advice would you give a company that is considering using an outside engineering firm?
Hanna: First of all, if you are going to trust a partner to improve your manufacturing process, you want to know that they have experience in industries, products and processes similar to yours.
Second, will the outside engineering firm partner with you throughout the entire process? No one knows your product and your process better than you do, so you want a partner that is open to your design suggestions and changes all along the way. Ask yourself this question during the concept and design reviews: “Will this concept help us reach our goals for this project?” A good partner will work with you to get the right balance of design complexity, budget requirements and system delivery.
It also helps if your partner has most of its resources under one roof. This will make your projects run smoothly and promote collaboration between you and your partner’s resources.
Maloney: How about service after a project is completed?
Hanna: That’s another key concern when you partner with an outside firm. Whether it is building a whole line or a stand-alone machine, the real test comes when the equipment is installed in your facility. You want a partner who will work with you to integrate the new equipment into your process and address any necessary changes and problems that may arise. And that includes training of your machine operators, as well as providing the proper manuals and documents.
In the long run, you will be better served partnering with someone who addresses all these needs and includes them in the up-front costs for the equipment.”
Written by Larry Maloney of IHS Engineering360, Posted: September 15, 2014
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