It is good list to follow. But I have not seen so good component engineer so far. For this he has to have 10 to 15 years of design experience. In practice, most work come back to design engineer. He has to reply to all questions.
Just as there are graduated job positions in a company for Purchasing such as Buyer, Senior Buyer, and Senior Procurement Analyst, so there designated levels for Component Engineering positions. In job postings, I have seen savvy employers asking for Component Engineers, Senior Component Engineers, and CE Managers. At the Senior level, a Component Engineer will know how do perform steps 1-15 as a routine part of his or her job. The CE Manager, will deploy all the folks under management to the job requirements based upon the individual's experience and skill level. If you look at Brian's reassignment of Prabhakar's suggested work routing list, you will see an example of the job routing requirement from a Senior Component Engineer's perspective. All the departments Prabhakar suggested would be notified or consulted, but the Senior CE, would more or less shepherd the entire process through it's company wide involvements. The CE should be everybody's best friend because each department is benefited by the CE's function of component selection, qualification, monitoring by taking ownership of the component's suitability for use from cradle to grave for every product the company produces.
When you are dealing with state-of-the-art parts with need to know complex application requirement, component enginner can do very liittle help. Even when you consult FAE and expert, they have difficulties. Yes, sometime it help talking to other designers.
A Component Engineer does not take the responsibility for the design. That is the DE's job. Nothing should be changed either in the factory or in R&D without the DE's acknowledgment. The DE knows the design better than anyone else and knows how any changes or additions to that design is going to impact the performance. The CE works hand-in-hand with the cognizant Design Engineer in every case without exception. If the DE has left the company, then an Engineer is assigned to assume that products technical ownership. So you see _ hm, I agree with you 100%.
_hm: It appears that you ae trying to compare apples and oranges (both round) CEs and DEs are both engineers, but different widely in what they do for a product. I agree with Douglas's comments and want to try to emphasize that there is a BIG difference in what the tasks are for which both are responsible. As stated in their titles, a design engineer (DE) is responsible for the design of the product, and the component engineer (CE) is responsible for the components of the design.
Douglas, I agree that all the questions are very much valid. But from a developer point of view, how many are following the same? And what’s the reason for others for not following is also relevant. In most of the cases, delay in finding a distributor or component by scrutinizing all the 15 questions is the major factor. The second is we can found out that a very minimal can pass such scrutiny and finally then the selection may be very minimal. In such an environment, we may compromise with some of the factors from the list.
I think for such Component qualification , only design engineer will not be able to complete the whole process. For such a complete qualification, the design has to circulated to various departments such as purchase, production, testing and quality control and finally service.
The 15 points qualification process can thus be divided as below
points 1 to 7 -- purchase
ponits 8 -- production
points 9,10 -- Quality control
point 11 - purchase
point 12 - design engineer
point 13 - purchase.
point 14,15 - testing
Thus once the design engineer has finalised the component selection based upon his requirements and the available alternatives , if the design along with BOM is circulated as per the above route then all the questions related to the suitability of the selected comonent will be answered jointly and a single person doews not have to take the burden .
The departments other than the design department should not take a view that "let the design work first and then we will see the testability, manufacturability and availability"
I agree that component selection is a multi-department function. Normally, only the design engineers and purchasing team evaluates the components and the production team does not get a say into whether the component is fit to be used in production. I think the input from production and other teams is equally important.
I have experienced another key factor as qualification of components to acquire, is represented by support services in terms of replacement or spare parts available, once the component is damaged. A long wait timeframe is not good for both vendors and end users, maybe a clear SLA paradigm inside inforequest datasheet could be a good point for making positive decision by buyers.
Good point mfbertozzi. If a product is under warranty, sometimes a company will set aside 1% of the COGS to be drawn upon to support repair and return operations. But, rarely do we see Purchasing buying part quantities with warranty support in mind. One reason is the MRP is set up for J.I.T. And the EOQ may include anticipated scrap materials from shop floor budgets, but warranty part replacements are usually taken from inventory locations not specifically allocated to R&R. So, Operations experiences unanticipated shortages as the inventory raids are for the most part unplanned events. Does anyone want to do an article on the cure?
Douglas, even I am not so expert in the sector (not so much for writing an editorial about), in my opinion your are outlining a very fascinating topic to address. I agree also with the fact usually buyers attitude is to avoid warranty analysis, including additional spares, despite recent drammatical events, for example at the time of strong hearthquake in Japan, could be demonstrate people have considered that analysis, held a very wise approach.
When I was the CE Manager at Microsoft, my annual review was conducted by managers from different areas of the company. I think MS got it right. The position of Component Engineer is a demanding discipline that has impacts on not just the product, but people in various departments throughout the company. We are all familiar with the term "fire fighting" and there is enough of that in the day-to-day operations of a company already. The CE is first and foremost a "Fire Preventer" as it is his or her job to anticipate where fires cold break out in a company process or product as related to product ongoing availability, quality, and reliability. I was reviewed by the Director of Operations, Mechanical Engineering, Development Engineering, Materials, and Planning. But my most memorable review was from the Director of Business Development. He and I are still friends today because he recognized that his job was a whole lot easier because the product he was responsible for, enjoyed world-wide acceptance and a solid reputation for quality and reliability. A CE cannot sit in his or her office and do the job. It requires interacting with people from all departments. If the work is done up front, considering every department's immediate and potential needs, there will be a lot less fires and a lot better working environment at the end of the day. One last thing. The Component Engineer must be highly oriented to detail type work, a natural researcher, a diligent performer, and an excellent inter-departmental communicator. Any comprehensive work up front, will save time, effort, and money after the product is released. The CE has a unique opportunity in the company to make a significant contribution to the success of the company as defined by product quality, acceptance in the market place, and promoting a solid company reputation based upon excellent product performance.
Thanks douglus for elaborating on the important role that a CE plays in the successful product design. Your are very right that the success of the big product companies like MS lies in the fcat that they give due importance to the role of CE dept in the product design .
Unfortunately in many a small and medium sized companies there is no seperate function as component engineering and there lies the skill of the design engineer in taking all the other departments in confidence before finalising the component selection.
Thanks for this very useful blog . The porducts designed by taking into account the supply chain issues, as mentioned by you , can only stand the test of time .
Douglas, I read the article and then I read your bio and was impressed. It seems to me you probably have more of these type of practical information of importance to supply chain folks. Have you thought of packaging this in a searchable data for EBN readers? What other topics are you planning to work on for the site and could you add references to other reading materials in future blogs?
If you go to www.componentsengineering.com and look under core disciplines, you will see many free documents and guidelines that will assist you in your day-to-day work efforts. Thank you for the kind words. I am discovering that by reading all the comments connected to any blog, a wealth of additional knowledge. This community is with it. I enjoy interacting with those who comment so I hope you find many helpful comments from everyone contributing. Thanks again for the encouraging feedback.
Anna, Bolaji Ojo is the engin behind this EBN blogsite. If you write to him, he will be most receptive to any comments regarding the format you may suggest. As far as references go, please refer to the library section on www.componentsengineering.com. These are books from my personal library and so if you have any questions from any of these sources, I would be happy to help you with anything I can.
Very interesting responsed, although I don't quite agree with the ranking given by Prabhakar. I think that it should be: (1) CE, (2) CE, (3) Purchasing, (4) Purchasing & CE, (5) Purchasing & CE, (6) CE, (7) Purchasing, (8) CE, DE, Purchasing, Mfgng, (9) CE, (10) CE/Purchasing, (11) Purchasing, (12) Purchasing/CE, (13) CE, (14) CE, (15) CE.
These are good points. Considering product design specification which has to be comprehensive and unambiguous. As poor product design specification lead to poor designs, and good product design specification make the goal more achievable. The element of product design specification is applicable to all products irrespective of technology.
"The element of product design specification is applicable to all products irrespective of technology."
A poorly designed product will certainly affect the credibity of the company. It is important for the design team to understand all the compliance rules that are requiered in the countries the product will be sold to. Unfortunaly, some countries leaders are ready to import any kind of products that do not pass the requiered specifications provided they got their commissions. I've heard stories about products that are shipped to Africa, but can not cross the borders of Europe. Why that? Shouldn't the rules be the same for every countries?
Well HH, I haven't right asnwer for your questions, maybe other way for better qualifying component in electronics word which is one of the main interest here at EBN community, could be its footprint within the market; I didn't find it inside the list and it wasn't mentioned within previous posts.
Paragraph 1 of the article addresses "form factor" and paragraph 2 uses the terms "Form, Fit, and Function" if the part is "FF&F" qualified, then the footprint has been checked right along with the physical dimensions and the electrical and environmental specifications.This really highlights the comprehensive nature of the Component Engineering discipline. I have a section header called Core Disciplines on the website that breaks down the various areas of responsibility for Component Engineers. I freely use the term "discipline" because that is what this job requires in order to perform at a level that will guarantee product integrity.
Good receiving clarifications Douglas, really appreciated. I've taken a look at sections you mentioned, I understood them in terms of physical perspective instead of market perspective and it was the sense of my previous post. Sorry in case I made mistakes.
Douglas Alexander : In your comment, you mentioned that company always reserve 1% for repair and replacement but if a component is 3F qualified as indicated, Would the company reserve 1% of every batch for the repair and replacement? How would that reserve affect the production cost?
The reserve, sometimes called provision under the International Accounting rules, is not cash set aside in a separate account, but rather is a liability on the books until the end of the year when the books are closed. The percentage is a function of anticipated cost for repair, return, or replacement. It could be 2% if the company has such a track record based upon actual field returns and associated cost. As such, the warranty reserve does not affect production cost, but is tallied under Cost of Goods Sold on the chart of accounts based upon the company's accounting choices and practices. Out of every dollar the company spends, there are percentage allocations for inventory, direct and indirect labor, and overhead costs. At the end of the fiscal year, if $100,000.00 was set in reserve and only $20,000.00 was used, then the company can convert the remaining reserve of $80,000.00 from a liability to a positive credit. Production cost are usually a function of inventory, (Materials, both direct and indirect) and labor, (direct and indirect). Sometimes Payroll gets thrown in the mix instead of considering it as overhead. Every company has basic rules of accounting, but every company also has it's own practices and sometimes the accounting methods can change mid year. I would really like to see an accountant weigh in on this topic as I only have two years of experience with QuickBooks in a start-up operation. Also, it is really advisable for every company to graphically represent there spending dollar with partitions indicating where each percentage of the dollar is spent. Inventory can be a major chunk, but there are burdened cost associated with the costs of carrying that inventory. I have seen figures like 10% for burdened cost. If anyone can speak to this, we would all benefit from hearing from you.
T.alex: Thank you for your kind comment. We are trying to show that a CE can be a very valuable asset to any company, in terms of assuring that the "best" supplier is chosen for the product. Wwhen decided upon by both the design engineer and the component engineer working together, the DE chooses what the part will do, whereas the CE selects the who the most reliable part supplier, then the CE works with Purchasing to determine the most cost-effective part to use.
You bring up a very significant point. If I was a supplier of a component or subassembly, the three people I would want to meet with inside a company in order to introduce my products and services, would be the Design Engineer, Purchasing, and the Component Engineer. Probably, my first objective would be the Design person as he or she, most of the time, drives the component selection process for a new component introduction. The CE backs up or modifies the DE's choice while working with Purchasing to confirm the supplier's eligibility by examining the business perspective, considering the supplier's performance history, cost, and inventory status.
Thanks Douglas for the clarity you have stated as it relates to component qualification and the people that help to make the products. You are absolutely right in your choice of the people the people to engage in the company. The design engineers like the achitects have careful planning skills that considers all aspects of the products, before the component engineers that implement or operationalize the designs. Obviously the purchasing folks are the fiscal team members that help make it all worth the effort and drive the profitability of the products. This helps to make the process easy to understand. Thanks again
I like that term "Operatioalize" you used to describe one of thr CE's roles. In fact, I had a consulting job that took me to Israel where I was asked to assess a product's readiness for the market. The product was designed by a professor and students from Technion University and a Contract Manager here in the states was trying to determine if they wanted to invest in the Professor's company. It was a 3-axis accelerometer pen that would translate repetitive movements made in the air to keystrokes visible on a computer screen. It also had an ink cartridge for taking actual notes on paper that would also be visible on screen. Well, after I examined the individual components internal to the pen, I determined that the activator switch chosen was only good for 2000 cycles, about one page of written text. Also, the design team never performed a basic drop test where the pen was allowed to fall from desk height onto a hard floor surface. The size of the ink cartridge was prohibitively limited to allow for the electronics, the tether cable that connected to the PC I/O forced the user to counter balance the pen's high center of gravity, and a multitude of other reasons for declaring to the board that the pen was not ready for prime time. 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. However, it was a great science project as the software using the 3-axis accelerometer was a great idea for people with disabilities who could hold an implement in their mouth, using repititive, recordable movements for writing or transcribing purposes. 10 years later, the product has still not appeared in the Marketplace.
Douglas, Fascinating example! This shows the chasm between design and reality. The concept sounded great but obviously it lacked the elements that would take it beyond the design level to the customer. I have a couple of questions arising from this. One, in your opinion, what could have been done to bring the product to market or was it a lost cause and; second, is it possible you could pull examples like this into your next blogs? Thanks!
The rest of the story goes like this. The prospective CM CEO commissioned me for this trip to evaluate the product and to determine if he was going to accept the Offer to become the CEO. He and I worked together before and before he stepped into position, he wanted to do all the due diligence first. I was the technical aspect reviewer. After I gave my evaluation and submitted a proposal on how to make the product more viable, then the board met without me. I was woken up at midnight, asked to come downstairs and meet with two individuals on the board. They asked me if I would be willing to move to the East Coast and manage the development. They asked me also if I would stay on even if the guy who assigned me to the evaluation did not become the CEO. Enter the political agenda. It sounded like skullduggery was afoot, so I simply said I had obligations in California and respectfully declined. By the time I got back to the states, the board had disbanded, the Professor's ego was unsuccessfully challenged by daring to suggest the product wasn't ready, and the parent CM discontinued business operations within a month. The board split right down the middle. My CEO friend got out as quickly as he could and we are having lunch next week. Bottom line. They needed another million for R&D and Marketing cost. They would not be ready for the Januaray CES, and EGOs destroyed any possibility of meaningful or productive compromise. If Apple had developed the same product, it would be commonplace today. It was viable. It was a great idea. It was benevolent. It was the wrong company with unrealistic expectations with no real industry experience. I approach business opportunities now with a much more holistic view. One of the first things I want to know is if the size of someone's ego is going to crowd out common sense or wise counsel. I did have an experience of a lifetime visiting Israel.
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.
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, 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?
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 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.
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.
@_hm: I guess that this is one of the reasons that Douglas and I have decided it's time that the "oldtimers" need to pass on some their wisdom to those coming along behind us. In this vein, I plan to be posting a series of articles about the CE process and some of my experiences within the CE community. I hope to start soon on this task, but it may not be before the beginning of the new year, since there is so much going on during December. I really look forward to passing on some of the experience I gained in my working over 35 years as a CE. It's not always about money, but sometimes a person likes to be able to leave some sort of legacy as well. Hang in there and you will soon see that the "oldtimers" really do have some wisdom to pass along. We will try our best to live up to your expectations.
That is great news and very encouraging. Bottom line is that CE should take load from DE and make him more free to concieve new products for company and its future. CE should not again become burden and liability to DE.
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.
What a great name! congratulations on you first full project. Take whatever you need from www.componentsengineering.com. If you want the original forms, procedures, flowcharts, or guidelines, just ask and I will forward to your email...no charge.
Douglas - This is a great list! The only other thing I could think of is to make surre that the source of supply is reliable ansd acceptable for military applications (when that is a factor, of course).
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.