Give Me My Engineering Files

engineering filesProtecting Your IP

Any time you are working through the development process and you wish to have intellectual property protection it is important to understand the relationship with your contract engineer. There are many ways engineering contracts can be established and some are more advantageous than others based on your business model and how you want to integrate with your engineering company. There are different levels of intellectual ownership: source files, manufacturing files, and component design. Often these levels of ownership dictate the engineering rate.

Use of Design libraries

Design libraries are collections of work created by the engineer for future use. These libraries often include common code functions such as establishing Bluetooth communication etc. since the engineer built these libraries prior to the start of your project he owns 100% of the code in his libraries. In your project they can utilize one of the pre-programmed libraries to make the project go faster. Now when it comes to ownership of that library the consulting engineer is not likely going to release ownership of their personal design library. So that means if you want 100% ownership of all the code the engineer is going to have to create everything from scratch, and as a result the project will cost more. This can be a tricky scenario to migrate around as most individuals do not understand that to be efficient means contract engineers use many pre-configured tools. Now relating to the core functionality of the application the client will still maintain all rights and ownership of that section of the code. Similar scenarios can be played out with electronic design. Let’s say you’re be building a single board computer that uses a standard power supply circuit. The engineer is not going to redesign the power supply circuit for your application when he has a proven design in his library. Essentially you can think of this relationship as the engineers are providing a right of library usage for your project but you do not own that small section of design. Your intellectual property should be centered around the function and use of the product rather than the gritty details of the product.

Engineering Source Files

There are many types of agreements that a client and engineering consultant can come to, but is very important to understand the fine print of the contracts. In more than one occasion we have had clients come to us from another engineering company thinking that they have all the files and ownership of all the files for the project. Once we start to get involved we realize that the source files are not included in the original document packets and request copy of these new these files. When this happens the old engineering firm likely knows that the client has moved to a new source and is reluctant to give you the source files. But wait, you paid for the design so you should get everything needed to move to a new engineering group. Well, that depends on how your contract was originally established. The engineering group in an effort to lock you into their service can offer you a contract that includes all documentation required for manufacturing this would include 3-D step files, Gerber files, drawing PDFs, etc. what they don’t tell you is that those files are not editable. So you cannot make simple revisions without that engineering groups support. This is more common when engineering groups are trying to also lock a client into a manufacturing agreement. So what they do is offer discounted engineering services and they still provide you with everything you need to manufacture elsewhere but they make it really hard to migrate.

It’s important to realize with any business venture that there are many ways to draft a contract, and an understanding of these contracts is critical when dealing with engineering firms. If you plan on that company as being a strategic partner for your business in the long term then sharing ownership for discount rates might be a good play, however we often know that these type of business arrangements can fall through leaving the client in a difficult position. When you’re talking with your engineering companies make sure to ask them about ownership of manufacturing files and of source files.

Six Sigma Crash Course

 

 

 

One of the more common buzz words in manufacturing is six sigma and lean manufacturing. This leads to the question what exactly is six sigma? This can be define differently based on your context. In statistics 6 sigma means 6 standard deviations from the mean, or 0.00034%. That’s a really small number right? The six sigma methodology is a collection of tools that will aid your manufacturing to obtain a 3.4 defects per million units. That seems a little obnoxious right ? To only have 3.4 defects per million!!! What if that metric was not for a

 

defective widget, but rather a defective aerospace component. That failure would be catastrophic to the passengers, family members, and the company making the part.

The metric is a measurement of quality in your manufacturing process. The higher the sigma level (standard deviation) the less defects you produce. This level of accuracy is considered the crown jelel in manufacturing quality in most industries. With that said some industries will require a greater sigma level.

Six-sigma is most well known as a process for continuous improvement. It is a five stage data driven method to methodically look at your process and identifie the crucial deffencies. The five stages are known as the DMAIC Methodology. The DMAIC methodology is a very structured way of defining a business problem, finding out what needs to be fixed or changed, getting the answers on how to change it, implementing the changes, and then making sure the changes beneficial and sustainable

sixsigma dmaicDefine-The Define phase is where the problem statement and scope of project are defined and put down in writing.

Measure-This phase is where metrics and measurement systems for the inputs and outputs of your projects are formed. This phase is also to ensure that you are getting the right data from the right place and also that the way you are getting your data is accurate.

Analyze-In this phase, you collect data on all your inputs and outputs and then use one or more of the statistical tools to analyze them. This eventually leads you to isolate the root causes of your problem and provides insight into how to eliminate them.

Improve- In order to create the implementation plan, you need to gather up all the conclusions that have been formed through the analysis that you have done. Now that you know what improvements need to be made, you have to figure out what you need to do in order to implement them.

Control-This phase is where you make sure that the improvements that you have made stay in place and are tightly controlled. By the time you reach the control stage, you would have reached the end of your input filtering or funneling process. You should now be left with the main 3 or 4 extremely critical inputs that have a significant impact on the output.

 

History of six sigma

Six Sigma was a standard of measurement in process and product variance when Walter Shewhart demonstrated three sigma from the mean is when the process needs to be improved. Many standards later came in the industry but Bill Smith, a motorola engineer, was given credit for naming six sigma.

With Chairman Bob Galvin at the reigns, Motorola designers determined that the standard quality measurement in defects per thousands didn’t provide enough resolution to improve on. Instead, they set out to measure the defects per million. This new standard required an entirely new culture and set of methods to achieve. A$16billion dollar savings has been achieved by Motorola due to the implementation of the six sigma mindset.

Our Process

 

So you have the next great idea that is destined to set the world on fire. With overwhelming enthusiasm, you begin researching how to make this new product, and you realize that you will need to actually partake in the product design process. This process is a systematic approach to new product development. Our product design company splits it into five continues steps with an intermittent product release step.

  1. Customer Identification is the process of learning about your customer. Research who they are, their needs, and current competitors. You want to use this step to guide your product design so that the final product offers a strong value proposition to the customer.
  2. Concept Design is the process where you determine the functionality and aesthetics of your product. Basically how is going to look and work. Look at current products that are in the same industry to grab aesthetic features that are relevant in that industry.
  3. Engineering Design the process in which a product goes from concept to an actual manufacturable part. This is where the engineers source components, design the components, and conduct any design analyses. Common analysis would be for part strength and thermal properties.
  4. Prototype and evaluate the product to ensure it meets the design requirements. This is a critical step as you often find the majority of failure points.
  5. Release and Repeat. If the product passes all the requirements it is ready for release. That does not mean the design is done. Once the market gets the product other features will need to be implemented.