Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So about two years ago I started dreaming (almost literally) of a big revision to the instrument product that we crank out at the workplace there.  This was not going to be a change for the performance enhancement of the system, or for cutting the cost in half, but it was going to be a huge boon to the worker needing to make one of the things, and it would make it less likely to just crap out all of the sudden.

So for two years I've waited.  About a year and a half ago, we were coming out with our slick new product which is a best seller and makes us a lot of bucks.  At *that* point I was sure we could come up with a MUCH better design for this part of the product.  Alas, the design that was delivered was - in my professional opinion - WORSE than the crappy original part.  I wasted no time in telling my colleagues that this new design was "not manufacturable".  For my trouble, I was told I hurt their feelings.  Literally.  In those words.

Now mind you, it is my job to know whether something is manufacturable, having been hired to use my three decades of manufacturing experience to aid in this assessment.  The organization nominally depends on me to assist the design people to make this assessment, and to guide their work to achieve more manufacturable designs.  My friend Charles W used to refer to me as "the Dennis Miller of manufacturability" based on my zeal and attention to detail in the endeavor.

It was hard to put into words how deeply offensive this "design" was.  The current (very bright and clever) electronics design fellow remarked that it was difficult for him to simply take one apart, and that he was ecstatic to find out that someone else would build the one that he was to work with.

So tomorrow we will be "releasing" the replacement design.  Releasing is essentially publishing the documents that describe the complete design that you will be building.  It allows us to start buying parts.  The new design, with no small inspiration or input from me, will cost far less, take 1/8th the time to build, and be more robust than the three designs it is replacing.  Additionally (my idea, BTW) it will work for all of the products in this format, not just one.

Given our actual level of sophistication two years ago, we couldn't have made this product then.  In a sense I glad we waited, or rather, had to wait.  I know it's a goofy thing to get excited about but I'm really very delighted and expectant about this.  The project to get it into all three products and to get them all re-certified and to have everything done on time is one of the most complicated coordination projects we've attempted.  On the manufacturing side, it is all up to me to make it all work out.  I'm really enjoying the project.



grace said...

I think it's great that you're that excited about your work. (I must also point out that you are so very humble.) It makes going to work more enjoyable and gives you a greater sense of satisfaction when you like what you do. And we all like a little satisfaction in our lives. ;)

Anonymous said...

Go, BOB!!!


Amy said...

I'm sorry, you *hurt their feelings*?????!!!!!???? Ok....i guess that's one way to run a business.....anyway...

I'm glad to see you so excited and satisfied with your work, Bob. That is great!