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Understanding the importance of engineering experience in design and supply chain

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LX Group discusses the importance of engineering knowledge and experience in product development.

The design and development process is always under pressure caused by various factors – from management with new ideas, engineers with impossible deadlines, and investors and shareholders with their financial returns – all the while trying to beat the competition to be first-to-market. 

While it is possible to save time in the product design process, efficiency gains in any process can only be found and validated by professionals in each field. Successful product development therefore requires the involvement of the right team members with expert knowledge in their field.

Speeding up the product development phase may impact the desired performance outcome of the product, which is caused by the lack of knowledge, probably from using an inexperienced design team, staff who aren’t familiar with the latest revisions in the field, or well-meaning people who just don’t have enough design knowledge to do the best job possible. Their results may produce costly mistakes – both financially and legally. 

A recent and very public example concerns the Lithium-Ion battery pack used for auxiliary power in the new Boeing 787 aircraft. In a constant drive to reduce weight, engineers chose Li-Ion batteries for their high energy to weight ratio. Theoretically a great idea, in practice one large battery was made with several individual packs packed together in a sealed compartment, which didn’t allow for any cooling space between the individual packs, causing overheating and fire. 

Consequently, the 787 fleet was grounded, causing great cost and embarrassment to operating airlines, Boeing and associated organisations. Had more thought about the design and knowledge of Li-Ion batteries been applied, this potentially lethal situation could have been easily avoided.

Another smaller yet equally hazardous example is that of a power supply design update. The previous design had the AC-AC transformer mounted separately on the chassis. However in a drive to reduce the enclosure size, a newer engineer decided to mount the transformer directly onto the PCB, and also reduce the PCB thickness to save production costs. While the test samples from production worked flawlessly, the first batch shipped to customers was less than satisfactory since the combination of the transformer weight, reduced PCB thickness and shock from the delivery process caused the PCBs to fracture, rendering the power supplies useless.

In both cases it would have taken an experienced, knowledgeable person a very short period of time to determine the changes were not for the better, and recommend positive design changes, while also avoiding restoration costs and the harm to reputation. 

LX Group offers a large team of knowledgeable, experienced engineers with a wide range of design and manufacturing expertise across consumer, business and military-grade products. 

LX Group can take design ideas and produce the required customised solution for the client, or even follow through to final completion, including documentation, standards compliance and revisions.

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