Excellent post, Douglas. This really shows how involved picking a new component really is, which I am involved in time-to-time in my line of work. I especially like these sentences: "Do not trust datasheets! They are rarely 100 percent accurate.". This is very true. Also, the circuit and environment for which the component is intended can sometimes affect the component operation. All the more reason to properly test the component and circuit in the intended environment. These are excellent questions to remember, and reminded me of some things to keep in mind next time I am looking for a new component.
Douglas thanks for the detiled list of check points need to follow before sending a product out to market. These will definitely improve the product qulaity and also improves the company profits by manufacturing much needed goods.
I was called into action after they had indicated the product was ready for CES, (Consumer Electronics Show). This was a university professor's class project and staffed by students. They had no experience in commercial product development whatsoever. They just picked parts considering only the basic functional requirement. A switch that would open and close. A regulator that would convert one voltage to another. An Opamp with the correct current rating. A coin cell that would fit in the pen's barrel. An accelerometer that had a three axis response. They were basically putting together a science project with some pretty sophisticated software, (The most challenging and costly investment), and when they could demonstrate that the hardware and software link were working together as designed, they went out looking for investors. There was no effort on their part towards reliability or mass-production viability studies. My job was to evaluate the product. I said because no efforts towards product readiness had been made, the pen was not ready for primetime. Now, had they had a "Real World" Design Engineer and an experienced Component Engineer on staff, I probably would have seen a much different product. In a curious way, this is an example of how the absence of these two key positions can make a difference in any Research and Development venture. As a young man, I was told the difference between the terms "Stupid" and "Ignorant". By no means was this professor or the students, "Stupid". They had brains galore. But, in the same way that most of us are not fluent in all the languages of the world, these guys were "ignorant" in the ways of the Industry. It is interesting to consider the root word, "Ignore". If one chooses to "Ignore" the real world demands of the marketplace, well then, that is just plain "Stupid".
Douglas, you lost me in the explanation of the CE role. Your summary also did not do justice to the role of the CEs. "The moral of this story is, one may have a proof of concept model, that may not be mass producible or practical for the market. In this case, the CE role was not able to justify or "operationalize" the product's viability because of the analysis concluding that the wrong components had been selected, no real reliability testing had been conducted, the pen was unsuitable from an ergonomic viewpoint, and the design team hadn't considered the eventualities of using the product in the real world".
In the scenario above, you stated the components were wrong. You confirmed in your later sentence that this is a design flaw. So it is not the problem of the CEs and yes the CEs wiould have been able to justify their role if the components were the right ones. Also, if the design engineers would have done their tasks correctly conducting thorough reliability tests then the CEs who put the parts together would have completed their tasks and a viable product would be generated which could have passed all your evaluations. Right?
Good for you, you finally got it! A CE should be working WITH a DE, not for him/her. Together, as a team, the CE and DE can really help a company create a good profuct which will work properly, last past the design lifetime (thus giving a reliable product), be producable since the parts are relatively inexpensive, obtainable and are not going to disappear due to EOL considerations.
Since you have not commented on your company, its location, or the business climate where your are located, it would be interesting to learn a little more about you personally. If you would like to let us know a little more, you can respond to this comment on the blog, or reply privately to me at email@example.com. I hope that you continue to use this site, since we are planning some exciting "stuff" happening in the future.
Maybe someone could write an article with a bombastic title like, "What are the internal forces that will bring a company down" or "Personality, Power, and Politics, Three Deadly Sins." I find it interesting that the word "Company" comes from the Latin, Com= With, and Pani = Bread, meaning the concept of people breaking bread together with each one getting an equal share. I can remember the first time I heard the word, "Company" was when my Mother told me to "Clean your room, we're having company tonight" Somehow, over time and fortune, the word with the connotation of sharing a meal together came to mean "Let's make a lot of bread and give some crumbs to the people running buying the flour, mixing the dough, running the ovens, and distributing the biscuits." lately, I have been thinking about my business as I am in the process of starting up as "Casting my bread upon the waters" to me that means, " getting the word out and sharing a service that will be to everyone's benefit". Will I make a lot of money? I hope to participate with the True Provider in making my daily bread.
Douglas, Now, I am wishing you had shared this great experience in a blog! But thank you for following up with additional insight into what translates a product from design to the market. Some of the factors you discussed in the feedback (egos, unrealistic expectations, etc.) won't be found in a book on business management but they sound invaluable in the new product introduction process. Bravo! And as for your experience in Israel, I guess we'll hear more about that in (perhaps?) a future blog where you can blend industry lessons with life lessons.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.