Mechanical Engineering, Expert Witness Services and Product Design Product Liability and Patent Experts, Unparalleled Product Development Experience Fri, 25 May 2018 16:19:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 9 Ways Engineering Design and Analysis Add Value To Your Manufacturing Operations Wed, 10 Jan 2018 16:06:01 +0000 The post 9 Ways Engineering Design and Analysis Add Value To Your Manufacturing Operations appeared first on Mechanical Engineering, Expert Witness Services and Product Design.

Engineering Design and Analysis helps companies increase profits and decrease headaches, all while helping them develop a reputation as the gold standard of quality. Here are 9 ways that an engineering analysis can add value to your operations.

Confidence in Design

The number one thing an engineering analysis can do is give you confidence in your design. Instead of wondering if the product is strong enough, if there are ways you could reduce the cost, what you will do when an accident happens, etc... You can rest assured that your product is ideal for its intended use, because you have the data and calculations to back it up. A number of ways this is done are listed below.

Risk Mitigation

Like you, we hope that your products are never involved in an accident. Accidents are expensive when you look at the direct costs and the prices can become exorbitant when you add in the indirect costs, which studies show are typically at least 3X the direct costs and often as high as 10X the direct costs ( If that unfortunate day comes, and your product is involved in an accident, having a design package from an unbiased third party can go a long way in clearing your good name and reducing the costs of the accident. A good design package will look at different worst case loading conditions for different ways the product could be used, and certify the product to certain rated loads based on accepted safety factors and the strength of the product (required loadings are often governed by a standard for your specific type of product). Taking the steps to create the design package can also help find and fix problems that could end up causing accidents before any damage is done. Design packages and Certifications should be completed by licensed Professional Engineers with background and experience designing or analyzing the types of products you manufacture.

Build a Reputation for Quality Equipment

The billionaire investor Warren Buffet reminds us that "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." To illustrate the point, what comes to mind when you think about British Petroleum (BP)? Likely the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A Chinese proverb teaches us that "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." It is ideal to have an engineering analysis done on products before releasing them for sale. The second best time is now. Determine what the weaknesses in your product are and how to fix them. Make your products the best in class.

Have Confidence in Your Warranty

Determining what parts of your product to warranty and for how long can be a difficult task, particularly for a new product without any historical failure data. Alternatively, you may know that to be competitive, you need to have a 15 year warranty on the sub frame of your trailer. An engineering analysis can help determine the parts or components that are most likely to fail, and can help find solutions to make sure that the proper components are strong enough for expected (and some unexpected) usage situations. Knowledge of your product's strengths and weaknesses can also help determine appropriate time periods for warranties.

Decrease Time to Market

Jay Abraham teaches that there are three basic ways to increase revenues in any business: first, you can increase the number of people you sell product to; second, you can sell your product with higher profit margins; and third, you can sell a wider variety of products, increasing the purchase frequency. Focusing on the third point, in order to sell a wider variety of products, you have to develop more products. Some companies have divisions dedicated to product development. Other companies try to "fit product development in" and have their already-too-busy product engineering group take on a ground up design of a new product. While there are advantages to outsourcing product development in both cases, the advantages are far greater for the group without a dedicated product development division. In one instance, a company's engineering group estimated that a new design would take 2 years to complete based on their current workload and personnel. Our group was able to complete the product development project in less than 6 months allowing them to exhibit the product at a trade show 1.5 years earlier than they would have been able to otherwise. The profits they made on that product in the extra year and a half paid for the development fees several times over. Launching new products and decreasing time to market for those new products is a great way to increase revenues.

Designing for Manufacturability

There are entire books written about design for manufacturability, and we have read many of them and apply their teachings in our design work. There are often simple ways to reduce the costs of components, assemblies, or production, without affecting product quality... and the savings go straight to the bottom line.

Certified Designs

Some projects require that the designs for equipment or parts are certified by Professional Engineers. Whether the certification is for risk mitigation, or is required by the General Contractor, Site Owner, OSHA, or other governing standard, a certified design will allow your product to be used in more places with more confidence. Even when not required, a design certified by a PE will instill confidence in distributors and end users.

Value Analysis

A value analysis is a tool that helps to balance the cost of a product or component with its perceived value or performance. Value can be increased by decreasing costs or improving performance. "Studies have shown that unnecessary product costs vary between 25-75%, however this is rarely low hanging fruit but rather the reward for a well-organized effort using effective value oriented tools and an appropriate amount of competence." (Techniques of Value Analysis and Engineering 3rd Edition). What percentage of your products costs are unnecessary, and do you have the tools and competence to reclaim it?

Right Sizing Components

"Right Sizing" is a business term that typically deals with restructuring a corporation, reducing workforce, or upper-level management to achieve maximum profit. We like to use the term "Right Sizing" in conjunction with the actual size and strength of the component parts of a product. Using analysis tools like Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on worst case, or rated loads to make sure the product is adequately strong and has adequate safety factor, without completely overbuilding every part. For example, trailers that have not been analyzed are typically overbuilt for their rated load. For example, one trailer we looked at was rated for 8,000 lbs based on axle and tire capacities. However, the deck of the trailer could easily hold over 20,000 lbs. In this case, there were two options to "Right Size" this trailer, we could increase the capacity of the axles, or we could decrease the capacity of the deck so that the capacities matched. A trailer with a higher rated load capacity can be sold at a higher price point than a lower capacity trailer; and significant cost savings in raw materials can be found by building the deck to the right strength.

Need Help?

Alpine Engineering and Design has many years of experience providing mechanical engineering design and analysis. We can help you design or analyze your equipment to be sure that your equipment is correctly built to meet regulations, decrease costs, and we can help make your equipment easier to manufacture. Give us a call today at (801)763-8484 to discuss what we can do for you!

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Safe Forklift Operation Mon, 14 Aug 2017 20:44:47 +0000 Thousands of businesses across the globe have employees operating forklifts on a daily basis. These businesses are using their forklifts to move loads of varying sizes with forklift operators who ...

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Why Businesses Should be Interested in Safe Forklift Operation

Thousands of businesses across the globe have employees operating forklifts on a daily basis. These businesses are using their forklifts to move loads of varying sizes with forklift operators who have varying degrees of training, experience and common sense. There are obviously a lot of variables when it comes to forklift safety.

From the standpoint of a business owner, it is easy to see why forklift training might be skipped over. The certification process costs money and is non-billable time. It is a little bit of a double negative when it comes to costs.

On the flip side of the coin, there are a number of reasons that business owners should be investing in the proper training for their employees.

  1. Minimize their liability in-case of an accident: As forklift expert witnesses, we have worked on several cases involving forklifts. Providing proper training to employees minimizes the employer’s chance of being pulled into a lawsuit.
  2. Minimize down time due to workplace accidents: Many business owners do not understand the downtime that a forklift accident can cause. Investing in proper training can minimize the downtime due to property damage and inspection.

What is Required for Proper Forklift Training?

When you consider all of the facts, forklift training is not actually that costly or time intensive. Proper forklift training has two parts. First, the written training and test. This part takes place in a classroom setting which can either be at a location where someone provides the training, or at your location if you pay someone to come to your business to do the training. This typically takes about half of the day and ends with a written test.

The second part of the training before getting your certification is a job site training. You will have a trainer come to the job site where the employee will be operating the forklift. They will go through several different situations to ensure that they are understanding safe forklift operation.

Once they have passed both of these tests, they will get a certification and be ready to go to work.

Some companies have specific job training if their job site is different than most, but that is not required.

Why Some Companies Disregard Forklift Safety

Forklift safety is one of those things that often gets overlooked until an accident happens. After all, forklifts operate similar to other vehicles that we all drive on a daily basis, or at least that is what people often tell themselves to avoid having to go through the training process.

The truth of the matter is this, one slip up can cancel out all of the time and monetary savings that skipping the training process provides.

It only takes one person overloading a forklift or loading it incorrectly. It only takes one person not signaling that they are going to be reversing, and not having the proper guidance. In many businesses it only takes crashing into one thing before the damages done far outweigh what was saved.

We have seen first hand what improper forklift training and operation can do. Many people would be surprised at the damage that can come from accidents. Trust us when we say, you are better off in all aspects when you provide proper forklift training to your employees. If you are in Utah and would like to have someone come to your place of business to train your employees. Give Alpine Engineering and Design a call today at (801)763-8484.

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