Posts from the ‘Engineering Management’ Category

We still like filling forms


This is 2012 and we are still filling forms. At the doctors, at work, for credit, at banks, schools, colleges and probably even at play.

The least pardonable is at work. Inspire of the advances made on corporate databases we still seem to love entering data multiple times. We then check them, edit the, correct them. We get so engrossed in this and forget the ultimate goal.

Agile is a very popular document managing system. Why can’t we use it to generate the reports for us. All that we have to do it give the relevant input. As engineers we love to think that an expert system will not fit the needs. But all things we do fit a pattern.

Custom furniture is not custom any more if you break it down to the basic component and give it the 3 dimensions.

We thought the heavier the report the better the score. Is that still true in today’s world?


Why do we have a shortage of Medical Device Design and Process Engineers?

I have been with the medical device industry for a decade. The decades before that was spent with heavy construction, automobiles, consumer goods on a host of interesting assignments.

Process engineers are a much sought out skill with medical device companies. It takes about 6 months to get the right engineers with the right skills.

The fast growth in the medical industry has contributed to this.

The sad part is that 75% of the work done by these highly skilled engineers is consumed by mounds of documentation work.

So, what is the moral of the story?

Should be a good Six Sigma project.


Building A Case For Dual Use Facilities

We have to start using our existing infrastructure and get it to optimum use before we think of grandiose schemes for expansion.
Malls are use for only 60% of the time. Schools possibly 50%. Movie theatres 50%
Amphi theatres 35% and so on. You get the picture here



With the miniaturization of the factory space can we think of merging schools and factories
Hotels and homes
Parks and ?
We have to break out of the box and look at outlandish ways of living in this wonderful earth.

Making Others Dreams Happen – Taking That Gleam In A Visionary’s Eye To Reality

Making dreams happen is a two-fold process

  • The visionaries who dream great ideas and takes the concept to a prototype
  • The pragmatists who take it to market
It always surprises me to see my peers proclaim that a project or an idea is not viable mainly because they don’t understand it
What does it take for a project to succeed?
  • The right resources
  • Reasonable capital
  • A Team who believes that it can be done
  • The right seeds planted and watered
  • Empowerment
  • Engineering
  • Risk Management
  • A willingness to shoot from the hip when required
  • Lending a friendly ear to the soldiers
  • Not shrinking from going back to the drawing board
Creativity is the key
Great solutions come when your back is against the wall
Research and present your strategy for meeting Goals
Get buy in from the Team
Go for it and do not look back

Revisiting Pareto Charts – Process Improvement & Low Hanging Fruit – Instant Gratification

ASQ is a great place to browse and learn. The link above is a concise write up of the power of a Pareto Chart and how the same can be generated in Excel. You could do it with Minitab as well.

My first brush with a Pareto chart was in 2001

My assignment for the week was to increase the yield of a packaging line with a major manufacturer of diabetes bio-sensors.

I walked the line, talked to the operators and talked to one of the engineers

Here is the low down

  • The operators maintained a very clear record of the down time and frequency
  • The data was collected and stored in a database
Went and met the keeper of the database
He was thrilled and mentioned that he was waiting for the day when some one would come in and ask him for the data.
Got the data plugged it into Excel and created a Pareto Chart.
Passed it around the weekly meeting with a smug look
Here are the top hitters
  • Meetings
  • Repairs to literature folder
  • Have communication on the line and reduce wasteful meetings
  • Bring in the literature folder company rep and recondition the system
ROI or is it Return On No Investment?
  • Increase in yield from 75% to 95%
Is that instant gratification or what?
Well since then I have used the Pareto Chart any number of times with success and little effort
Who needs training courses?
Is that LEAN manufacturing or what?

Empowerment and Engineering Management in a Matrix – The trade off between focusing and innovation

Twitter continues to enrich my life.

@lucyinnovation ¬†tweets about : If you want to empower people, honor their ideas. Give them room and time to ‘talk’ their idea – then move mountains.

This is an excellent link on how to empower and help our associates innovate.

Let us consider modern day engineers in the technical track. No direct reports but lead design build projects with more than 80% of the work being hands on.

The traditional role of a manager does not apply directly here. Empowerment is the name of the game to work with schedules, budgets, innovative concepts, design reviews, feasibility.

On one hand you have to motivate and empower your peers. On the other hand you have to keep the focus on the project and not allow yourself to be distracted with ideas which may not be timely.

For example meetings can drag and not accomplish objectives if they are allowed to float in the name of not discouraging innovation.

It is a tightrope act. One way to combat this would be to allot a reasonable period of time for ideas and at the same time get the agenda accomplished.

There is also the danger of peers who are not well informed on the process requiring lengthy explanations for initiatives which may already be underway with similar concepts. Here you may have to request the discussion to be taken offline. Again a delicate act which should not smother innovation.

There are also the individuals who have some brilliant ideas which may be great, but would require the schedule delayed and the budget doubled which would delay the product getting into market within the window of opportunity. So, here we have to get these individuals into the forefront during the concept stage of the products.

Focus, Experience, Technical knowledge with depth in quite a few and breadth in many fields, a willingness to listen, creative confidence, an ability to say No, integrity, humility, a sense of humor, excellent presentation skills, high level of software literacy are all part of the arsenal an engineer requires to succeed in bringing projects in to modern manufacturing & services sectors.