An All Around Approach. Part 7: Engineering

This is our last post in our seven part series entitled, “An All Around Approach.”

The Field engineering team’s contribution focuses on two main areas: supporting our internal customers (the Field team) to maximize their contribution to the company and our customers and the second is to work directly with our external customers to maximize their contribution to the products they manufacturer.

Let’s begin with the Field team focus.  As human resources indicated, a well trained team is paramount to the long term FIELD_2013_stills_005-2organizational success.  All new team members rotate through all areas of the organization including the engineering area to understand our role and the tools we employ to drive down the overall customer product cost.   The training includes first hand experiences such as turning a torque wrench, reviewing print specifications versus an industry standard, generating the parameters for a customer database and consolidation report, taking notes and participating in a customer product tear down or the many other activities that flow through the engineering team.   The key is understanding the extensive services we provide and value that we can bring in the various activities to improve our customers bottom line.  Team members also gain an understanding what  their role is to facilitating and participating in that contribution.

As was discussed in the quality and implementations, doing it right the first time efficiently and effectively is an overriding focus.  The engineering team provides technical oversight as required during last piece inspection, item creation audits, documentation and print specification reviews, manufacturing interface, review of implications between parts and specifications, and other areas as required.  This input minimizes any issues during start-up and potential cost and time delays.

While there are many other areas the last one I’ll touch base on is training.  The engineering team provides support for technical contribution and in many cases the content for a variety of training seminars.   such as Fastener 101/201/301/401, print reading, Fastener Cost Drivers, Fastener Finishes, Guidelines for Self-Drilling Screws, Fastener Manufacturing, Joint Design & Tightening Strategies, Fastening Cost Drivers, Keeping Joints Tight, Design for Manufacturer & Assembly, Fastening in Plastics, Metric Fasteners, Rules of Thumb for Fasteners and Joint Design, ….. and the list goes on.

These training sessions provide a fundamental basis for an organizations ability to consistently provide cost savings over the long term.  Because everyone in the Field organization has a touch, the opportunity is great to impact the end deliverable product produced by our customers.  The greater the technical understanding and competency of each of these touches, the greater the opportunity to enhance the experience, answer the question in less time, uncover a potential issue, understand what the customer is trying to describe. Our goal: to lower a customer’s total end product cost to help them gain greater market share.

The second key area is the Field engineering team’s ability to maximize the contribution to the products our customers manufacture.  The contribution resides in many areas such as innovative designs, improved safety and ergonomics, employing the latest concepts in fastening technology, part standardization and consolidation, performing product testing, reduced assembly time, improved joint design and product robustness, reduced piece part cost, assembly process flow, and many other areas that reduce our customers TOTAL cost.

Like discussed earlier with new team members, a crucial area is the theme of doing it right up front.  The pareto principle applies where 80% of the results will be obtained in this critical 20% of the process.  A focus on how the Field engineering team can FIELD_2013_stills_006-2provide resources to engage our customers product design and development teams, our ability to contribute expertise in fastening and assembly to design the product right up front, at phase 0 of the new product development (NPD) process.  This reduces time-to-market, cost-to-market, allows for innovation, maximizes organizational resource utilization and efficiencies, and builds credibility in the NPD team that fosters team work in the NPD network.  This network is not only the customers multifunctional product development team (marketing, engineering, production, sales) and Field engineering team, but the team of Field strategic manufacturers.  The Field engineering teams focus is to provide cost savings by bringing innovation in our area of core competency that lies beyond the scope of a customer’s product, market and strategic technology platform.  Specifically, fasteners, fastening and design for manufacture and assembly.  Field embraces the early supplier integration (ESI) process and position as our customer’s fastener engineering department.

This can only be done by earning credibility within the customers sourcing, engineering and manufacturing organizations by building trust and credibility.  It is the demonstrated actions and results that cultivate an environment where the cloak between supplier and customer is lifted and the two separate organizations become one team.  The seat at the NPD table for the strategic supplier is not only available, but they are for the contribution they provide which yields success.

What are the tools which foster this environment?  Let me just examine a few.

Providing meaningful technical contribution that drives down TOTAL product cost, tools such as assembly line reviews, mechanical testing, detailed engineering reports which benchmark current product topology and alternatives with validated testing, results and conclusions, part specifications and print development, …… and many others that directly reduce our customers TOTAL cost (visit our website for a comprehensive list).

The second is through the education and training provided to our customers.  By demonstrating the engineering team’s technical knowledge and competency found in case studies, white papers, webinars Field’s “screw school”, the vast array of training seminars, participation in and industry Involvement in (ASTM, ASME, IFI, NFDA,…), technical report presentation and education, and many other activities, we provide a foundation of credible work product to establish the Field engineering team as the knowledgeable fastening resource for our customers.  They don’t need to struggle through an area which is typically not a core competency (fastening), but they can rely on the Field team.

The last I’ll comment on is the Field team’s commitment to being the fastening technical resource for our customers.  This means being available to our customers design and manufacturing engineering, production and quality teams.  Not in an ivory tower but accessible on the factory floor.  Engineering strategic account assignments provide the resource availability and knowledge to not only support but manage report and achieve key technical goals and cost reduction activities.  This utilizes the engineering team as well as other Field technical resources that reside in quality, on-site VMI, account management,   and the balance of the Field team.

As we saw in the previous six posts, there is a common theme to an all around approach to cost reduction, “cost reduction is everyone’s responsibility”, “great ideas come from within the team” and “it starts with training and education”.  This philosophy and concept is critical to the overall success of the Field organization and is key to maximizing the overall contribution Field provides in cost reduction and to our customers overall success.

Author: Gregg Cox, Chief Engineer