Yipes! I don't know what happened with that last formating. For Engineering, it think you want a VP and a CTO. Sometimes they are the same person. Next you have a Director of Systems Engineering and perhaps a Director of Software Engineering. The Design Engineers report to the Director of Systems Engineering, but in smaller companies the DE's can report directly to the VP. From there a company may have a matrix format where the Senior DE also becomes the Project Manager who may in turn have techs and proto assembly people reporting to him. The Mechanical Cad people usually report to a head ME who reports to the VP. Component Engineering may report to the Director of Engineering Support Services or to the VP. Under the Director of Engineering Support, there usually is a Doc Control department and in some companies where there is an Engineering stockroom and lab, that falls under the support services mantel as well. Program Management reports to the VP and is lent to the various Project Managers on an as needed basis. PCB Cad layout serves all the engineers, so that function could report to the VP or the Director of Engineering Services. I served as Engineering/Operations Manager where I had a little piece of all the action including NPI when concurrent engineering was in vogue.
I would never put Design Engineers at the bottom of any chain as they are absolutely essential throughout the Product's life cycle. So, having said that, you need the DE at not just the design stage, but system level integration and testing, part selection, BOM reviews and approval, ECO/ECN generation and approvals, NPI, Support after the product is released to Manufacturing, Customer Service product education and support, and sometimes they are right out there with the VP of Engineering and CEO at trade booths selling the product from a technical standpoint. In fact, if any one individual can be credit for the viability and product integrity of a company's product, it is most certainly the Design Engineer.
Tioluwa, Here is an overview for CE actions in a product development cycle.
Determine if the component is based upon new or existing technologies to establish risk for volume production and/or special handling or assembly requirements.
2.Obtain specifications and review for critical information availability. Preliminary specifications often do not contain power dissipation or thermal data. Establish with manufacturer all parametric requirements before design can proceed.
3.Determine component availability for sample and volume quantity
4.Investigate possible substitutions and or second sources of key components
5.Determine if two or more components can be substituted by fewer components either through standard industry offerings or custom hybrids.
6.Define maximum system operating limits based upon critical component limitations and analyze against customer requirement.
7.Early cost predictions
8.Help determine design guidelines by implementation of preferred parts use
Schematic and Prototype Build Stage: Major and minor components identified
1.Provide sample quantities of parts
2.Build and resource from manufacturer supplied component kits
3.Research details of specified components to determine possible exclusion for use
4.Build components specifications library to include all parts on BOM
5.Early identification of alternate sources
6.Heads up for Purchasing on long lead, higher cost components
7.Initial part derating study
8.Initial reliability study based upon part count method
9.Assign new part numbers with attributes
10.Perform or guide and monitor failure analysis studies on part failures
11.Suggest part changes if performance or reliability improvements are evident
13.Work with Mechanical and PCB design to ensure all parts meet requirements for design for manufacturability (DFM), and design for test (DFT)
14.Maintain AVL revision levels to track changes in specifications from manufacturer
1.Everything included in 1-14 above for all modifications to current build revision
2.Ensure that no manufacturer supplied component specification is preliminary
3.Work with Product Design group to selectively stress suspect components via temperature testing
1.Final derating test and preparation of component derating report
2.Final reliability analysis and preparation of MTBF report
3.Support last minute design or component changes
Work with subcontractor(s) and Manufacturing Engineering to support the manufacturing effort by:
Failure Effect and Mode Analysis (FEMA)
Processing component changes due to Corrective Action Requests (CARS)
Participating in ECO/ECN activities including Material Review Board (MRB) representation
Determining if parts used by OEMs are the same as parts qualified by Component Engineering, and if not work with the Materials Management group to determine best course of action.
Just one clearification: I beleive all these is done when a product that is already in the market needs to be modified, or does the process also follow during the design and prototyping stage, where alot of changes are likely to take place before a final design is brought to the table?
In response to your question, the answer is: usually not, but probably should be.
Traditionally within the aerospace community, where most of my experience is, ther has always been at least one level of supervision above the CE position and the supervisor of the group has been the one who assumes the responsibility of assuring that the CE's recommendations are implemented (if, of course, the spvsr agrees with the CE). I understand, though, that within the commercial world, the CE usually reports to the VP of Engineering.
While this takes the "heat" off the CE in the aerospace world, it does not give the recognition for the effort involved by the CE to the upper mnagement. In the commercial world, the CE's efforts (or lack therefo) are much more apparent to upper management.
I am reassured by the fact that you have seen the vast variety of tasks for which a CE is, ultimately, responsible or has inputs for. It frustrates me to have the enginering community (and others) not recognize that being a CE is as much of a specialty as being an EE or an ME. Perhaps this will change in he future - I hope so.
Brian, I read Douglas' article and couldn't but reflect on the extensive work the components engineer has to do and the different segments of the organization he/she must interact with in addition to outside parties. The wide extent of functions and responsibilities make me wonder too if this is typically a management level position at organizations. Is it? If it isn't do you think it should be?
This is one of the best descriptions of what a CE does and how important the CE is within an organization.
In response to where a CE should rank within an organization, I believe he/she should be at a level which is comparable to a Program Manager. The CE's input within a company is critical to the success of a product, since the CE's decisions affect the ultimate cost to produce the product. The CE must determine the vendor and the vendor's ability to provide the exact part needed, which is available in sufficient quantities, within the needed time frame, and at the reliability level needed. These are critical, in order to assure that the "right" part is available.
The CE should also be an important partner in the price negotiations for the part, so the CE's role is very important and the CE should have the "horsepower" to determine the use of the part with "veto" power as required, for incorrect parts or parts which will not "work" properly in the intended usage.
My perception is that unless a company has a strong CE person or group within the organization, they are playing with fire and may waste many dollars on a product which might even destroy the company's reputation within the realm of its intended use. Having a competant CE within any company is mandatory as part of producing a reliable product at a reasonable cost.
Good questions. The speed of any process is determined mainly by three parameters. First, the perception of the urgency level, second, how much cooperation or support is offered or in place for the required activity., and third, the efficiency of the operation based upon good procedures and guidelines for the required execution. So, if the urgency is easily recognized, ie, line down or Purchasing's immediate request for support, then the CE drops everything and jumps right on it, often shepherding the entire process through all the signatories responsibilities. Now we are back to procedures and guidelines. The more SOPs are written down and recognized by Quality Assurance, the less confusion with minimal arbitration is required. If the evaluation isn't an emergency, then the procedures are still followed but without everyone involved taking a firefighting approach. In an actual fire, all the firefighters are managed and assigned positions ahead of going into the building. They are all trained and so the fire is put out using guidelines, acknowledging safety, individual capabilities, and management authority. A good procedure will work in the worst case scenarios, just like a qualified component works in the worst case environmental conditions. That is why I am pro procedures and supporting documentation.
Douglas, Thanks for the prompt and detailed response. It seems to me also that the level of responsibility required for all of the approval processes you described requires that the component engineer be high up in the supply chain management. Is this always the case or does the CE have to refer to another party in the organization? What are the safeguards in place to ensure this person takes the right decisions and as fast as possible?
The person most often assigned to these processes is the Component Engineer. But, ultimately, the Design or Sustaining Engineer has to take responsibility for all aspects of the design. So when parts are added, the DE is always on the approval list. Anyone can initiate the Component Evaluation Request because the request initiates many processes for the various part management tasks. Most often the CE will be the follow through guy and make sure all the signatures that are required are in place. The CE may also take the results of the CER and formalize it via an Engineering Change Order so all company documents and records are modified as needed. The CER is a record of what steps were taken to either qualify of disqualify a part for the AVL. It can be scanned and included in the attachments to the ECO/ECN. That way, down the road, if someone wants to know how the part was added to the AVL, there is a record of it. If the CER was initiated as a vendor sample part request, then the record is ready to recall if the vendor enquiresa as to the status of his/her sample part qualification request.
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.
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.