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Engineering Excellence: From Concept to Design

Identifying, selecting, and proving the best possible solution to a problem requires clarity of the requirements. It demands a critical approach to the problems needing to be solved and creativity in finding the best solution. By leveraging best practices for product development and project management, c3controls can move through the fuzzy front end of a project, bring clarity to the product and project, and execute at world-class speed.

Getting to a final design, and freezing that design allows us to critically evaluate the model from every angle. Here, we are able to ensure that we keep our promises to our customers; that the electrical control products we build are reliable in the toughest conditions, are cost-effective, have guaranteed same-day shipping, and will be supported by our engineering and customer-first teams. Additionally, by freezing the design, the project can be clearly defined to enable successful completion.

Concept and Design Phase in Controls Engineering

In the previous article, we discussed the overall structure of our product development process and c3controls’ unique qualities and mission. Here we will dive into the new product development process and look closely at the concept and design phase and its role in the creation of a superior product.

Product Concepts

So, after defining the right product that is needed, our engineers begin creating different conceptualizations of that product; and they create a ton! We want to have many different ideas so that we can test them, disprove them and refine them down until we have isolated the absolute best design model. The idea here is to fail fast and early, to evaluate every idea until the very best solution is created.

Product Design

Once we have defined the right product and the right concept we create the design. Here, we know what we want to do conceptually; we know the technology we will need or want to use, the dimensions and materials of the product and how it should be assembled, but we need to make sure that we can produce the design in a way that matches our marketing requirement specifications, i.e. our promise to our customers, including achieving the target costs. So, the engineers collaborate with the manufacturing team to test the design for manufacturability. This is where our process differentiates itself from other businesses of our size. Our vertical integration model enables our engineers to enter a continuous dialogue with the manufacturing team so that design integrity is never lost, our value promises are always assured and the best possible design can be produced.

Design Testing

The manufacturing and engineering teams conduct formal and structured reviews of the product, including a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) as a sure-fire way to assess the potential failure modes and how the design and/or manufacturing process ensure these models are addressed. This way when we go into the execution of the design, the product is guaranteed to work in all application environments and we know that it can be manufactured in the most cost-effective way so our customers get the best price.

This concept to design dialectic, or design freeze, is integral on two levels. On one hand it verifies, through the design reviews and FMEAs, that the product design is the best it can be before moving forward, and on the other hand it creates a meaningful space where the manufacturing and engineering teams can engage in a dialogue that encompasses all perspectives and avenues of the design process. This all occurs before the development project is justified, the prototype is built and the teams meet again to review the product as it materializes. We’ll discuss this and the verification process in the next article.