Using Engineering Services To Save You Money
Sooner or later, all growing companies need more engineering capacity. Perhaps you’ve won a large new contract, or you’re ready to invest in a revolutionary product idea. Where should that engineering capacity come from? In general, you can ask your current staff to work more hours, add headcount, or use an engineering services firm to perform the extra work.
How you decide to proceed at this point will impact your budget, the success of a project, and even the success of a company. I’m never going to tell you that one alternative is always better than another. But I will tell you why some companies choose engineering services, and how companies like Sparta Engineering can save you more money than you might think.
Engineering Expertise. Few engineering jobs require the expertise of a single discipline. And few engineers are experts at everything. Your in-house staff may know your business or a particular CAD package, but are they experts at prototyping, simulation, electronics, and new materials? An engineering services firm can add experts to your team that have extensive knowledge in a broad range of disciplines. When you think about adding talent to your project or team, compare the cost (including time) of using an engineering services firm to hire and training the same expertise in-house.
Knowledge of Codes and Standards. If the work on your upcoming project or product leads you into new markets, technologies, or geographies, most likely you’ll have to comply with unfamiliar codes and standards. Engineering services firms work with many different companies in many different industries and already know these standards. That can help you glide past regulatory milestones. Compare this benefit to the cost of searching for the standards yourself, or worse, reworking a product because it fails an inspection.
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Tools. Engineering service firms have already invested in a range of engineering tools and used them successfully for other projects. These tools include CAD software, licenses of analysis software, and data management tools. Engineering services can even create renderings that you can use to impress your clients or place in online catalogs. Compare the costs of a fully equipped engineering service with having to upgrade your in-house hardware, purchase licenses, support contracts, training, and any IT staff you might have to engage.
Leverage. If you’ve worked in engineering design for any length of time, you know that most new products are built on the foundations of existing models. With 10 years of designing products for agriculture, energy, and other industries, Sparta Engineering has a database of tens of thousands of parts to draw from. That means Sparta Engineering can often design novel products quickly, knowing that much of the core model is already robust and able to be manufactured. As such, it might surprise you how much faster and cost-effectively an engineering firm can design a product compared to starting from scratch in-house.
Manufacturing Knowledge. Taking a product from approved design to manufacturing is never trivial, and ensuring the success of manufacturing starts early in design. Successful design for manufacturing (DFM) practices are taught in engineering schools. But mastering DFM comes from years of working with numerous shops and fabrication companies and knowing how to find and communicate effectively with the best manufacturing company for the job. Doing this prevents rework or retooling late in the product development cycle. If you’ve taken a product into manufacturing in the past, consider any unexpected expenses that might have resulted. Also consider whether working with a seasoned engineering service team would help smooth the process and bring you significant value next time.
Bandwidth. Even if your team has all the domain knowledge and tools it needs to effectively engineer your products, an engineering service team adds bandwidth at a time when you might not want to risk hiring new people. Recruitment, training, and team reduction down the road are all costs to consider when staffing up for a new project.
Finally, remember that engineering services aren’t an either/or proposition. While a skilled firm can take a project from start to finish, it can also complement and advise your team as it grows. The best engineering firms are excellent communicators and collaborators. These firms know the right questions to ask so project specs are well-defined up front, the extended development and manufacturing team is kept up to date, feedback is quickly incorporated, and no expensive surprises break the budget.
To learn more about how our Engineering Services work with manufacturing, see our posts on Production Management Systems, a tool that helps streamline manufacturing.