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R&D and Product Development

Rationalized and accelerated a large problem project for a $50 million manufacturer of automated test equipment through the application of concurrent engineering principles and techniques. The scope of the project included team members from virtually all company business functions, and covered both organizational changes and technology needs. Key issues centered on improving project planning and management capabilities, opening up the team culture to accept cross-functional input on design concepts and approaches, improving relationships between engineering functions and outside industrial design firms, and enculturating the importance of time-to-market via design trade-offs and the freezing of product definition.

Re-engineered the entire product development process for a $2 billion medical and diagnostic instrument company. This three-phase project lasted over one year and involved virtually all aspects of the product selection, project planning, product development, and project staffing activities. Major accomplishments included establishing a uniform and consistent product development process across the entire company; implementing phased-management and positioning for phased-funding of all R&D programs; initiating independent design-reviews of all programs at key project milestones; aligning product specification activities to be consistent with IEEE standards; improving the project planning and control functions and systems; building team capabilities in the management of large and risky programs; prototyping a state-of-the-art system to virtually collocate project team members regardless of their location; and building and balancing instrument engineering capabilities across various R&D and manufacturing sites.

Performed an engineering systems architecture and design review for custom-built system aimed at improving the concurrency of design, development, and manufacturing engineering activities for a $1.3 billion aerospace manufacturer. The system was built to manage the design and development activities from the conceptual design phase through production release. The system provides for the management of the engineering bill of materials, engineering change management, and a certain level of spatial integration of the overall aircraft configuration. The design consisted of three major technologies. Custom programmed features were integrated with the Sherpa "Design Management System" and the Ingres distributed database.

Assessed concurrent engineering needs and opportunities for a $25 million manufacturer of flow, level, and density instruments and gauges for industrial and institutional markets. The scope of the project included all company business functions, and was primarily targeted at organizational needs due to the relatively small size of the company. Specific emphasis was placed on the marketing, product management, design engineering, software development, and manufacturing engineering functions.

Reviewed the product definition and development processes for a $600 million textiles manufacturer serving the automotive and apparel industries. The company was skilled in collecting customer needs, but was largely sequential in the way that they incorporated the needs into the product definition and development processes. Recommendations centered on bringing the chemistry and coloration functions in closer contact with the fabric design/construction functions. Additionally, steps were taken to improve the scheduling of sample and pilot runs on the manufacturing floor to minimize the down-time and interference with on-going production.

Conducted in-house seminars, workshops, and educational sessions for a companies ranging from manufacturers of pneumatic and hydraulic pumps and seals to high-tech developers of medical devices and computer-driven communications equipment. Topics included benchmarking, measuring costs of inefficiencies in new product processes, designing phased and milestone-driven product development and funding processes for both hardware and software development; measuring the concurrency of organization and team activities; balancing resources across marketing, engineering, software, purchasing, manufacturing, quality functions; forming and staffing teams; culling-out and selecting the best product ideas in the company, product definition activities and tools, QFD, design for manufacturability and assembly, metrics and performance measurement, and physical and virtual collocation.

Assisted a $25 million manufacturer of flow, level, and density instruments and gauges in the development and implementation of a concurrent engineering program. The first phase of the project resulted in the institution of a team approach and a management process to identify, analyze, and then select the best projects for product development within engineering capacity. The second phase of the project involved benchmarking past product development projects. Then, a product development process was developed that instituted a combination of industry standard and client-unique milestones that were well defined and measurable. Goals were set to use the milestones to estimate and track individual product development activities to accelerated goals resulting in reduced time-to-market. Provisions were made to recognize the inherent differences between engineering design and software development activities, and to insure that these two activities completed at the same time prior to beta-testing. The third phase of the project focused on improving the project management systems in the company across all product development activities. Issues such as team formation and development, and collocation were addressed. Resources were re-allocated to balance the flow of work between the marketing, engineering, and manufacturing functions which reinforced the team approach.

Analyzed the Basic Research and Technical Center activities for a $12 billion dollar defense and commercial conglomerate. This brief high-level study focused on improving the capturing of basic research needs from the various operating divisions, identifying opportunities to improve commercialization of defense technologies, enhancing the communications processes and systems for projects that were in transition from the tech center to the operating units, and re-orienting management philosophies towards service and time management in a declining defense market.

Critiqued the product development process documentation and standard operating procedures for a $400 million manufacturer of pumps, seals, and bearings. Activities consisted of an arms-length review of company paperwork and documents, brief meetings with 4-5 key managers involved in new product development, the writing of a brief report highlighting findings and recommendations, and summary meeting with the manager in charge of new product development processes.

Conduct two-day registration seminars in various locations throughout the U.S. several times during the year on the topics of benchmarking, product selection, product definition, concurrent engineering and product development, design for manufacturability and reliability, collocation, and other rapid product development techniques.

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