Blackwater designs and fabricates custom welded assemblies, and at times, does the complete packaging for their customers. A lot of these projects begin in our design engineering phase of the process. During the design engineering phase, we sit down with the customer and discuss their needs and wants of the project. And try to nail down 80% of the details prior to engineering starting any 3D modeling work. This ensures engineering has an understanding of what the customer is needing done. In return, this helps reduce the chances of scope creep.

Engineering is a broad term when it comes to heavy fabrication work. Engineering could mean identifying all of the parts, reviewing the customers scope of work, or going to the field to evaluate equipment. The scope of work for all projects is a critical piece in the process. Many engineering, supply chain, or production type documents can be created based on this scope of work. For starters, a general bill of materials can be created to identify the big costly parts and long lead time items. And this also helps flush out the engineering design schedule. Once the major items are identified, engineers can then start to prioritize their work so that they are completing their tasks on long lead components first, rather than waiting till the end. Engineering work is usually the tip of the spear and sets the tone for the project. Bad engineering can lead to bad product development, supply chain issues, etc. You will not experience these issues at the best fabrication shop TX has to offer.

Like most processes and business systems, garbage in equals garbage out. For example, if the engineering scope of work is poorly documented, then a lot of things can happen to the project. Budgets, schedules, and part identification can be screwed up in a heartbeat. Budgets can be exhausted quickly as engineers are applying their time to incorrect tasks because their plan was poorly documented ahead of time. And when the engineering schedule falls behind, it is like a wave that does not stop coming. Supply Chain and production are now forced to expedite parts and various contract services in order to meet deadlines that approached way faster than they imagined. In return, these expedited shipping fees and sometimes higher cost parts than usual are now hitting the bottom line. There is not a whole lot that can be done at this time other than damage control downstream of engineering. It is vital to have a leader who can help steer the initial customer meeting and the design reviews to help mitigate issues that were described above.

Product development has many steps that involve the “idea guy” and the “integrators”. The idea guy paints the vision of what the product should look like and the integrator helps the idea guy understand how that idea can be achieved. The idea guy could be a business owner, head of a well-established company, sales man, or a shop worker. At times, these integrators are experienced industry veterans who have been around the block a few times and can help the idea guy avoid making costly mistakes up front. You get the best of both worlds at the best fabrication shop TX has to offer. Each product has its own challenges and can impede on the time to market schedule. Some idea guys want to be first to market, while others want to be the best to market. These are two very different groups of people, and these two questions should be asked early on because of how much they impact the overall product budget, schedule, and cash-flow. And what causes major issues is trying to be both which is very difficult unless no-one else has the product that you are launching and you are already going to be first to market with a quality product. Experience the highest in quality only at the best fabrication shop TX has to offer.

Sometimes the idea guy and the engineers share a common problem with each other, and that is they want everything to be perfect or flushed out before launching the product. In most cases, this is probably wise to do if you have the resources and timeline to do it. But, there is the other side of the coin where the idea guy would just rather get the product out there and get customer feedback right away rather than waiting until the product is absolutely perfect. At the best fabrication shop TX has to offer, you get a commitment to quality. There is alway going to be criticism from outside influencers that will offer their better way of doing things, and it is good to listen. The criticism can be helpful, similar to the criticism that an integrator offers. At some point there comes a time where the rubber needs to meet the pavement and the product needs to be launched. Worry about the fancy updates and “what-if’s” on generation two. An easy way to help mitigate the “what-if” scenario is to table those issues and record them yourself on a separate running list. And this list could be broken down into the “must-haves” and the “nice-to-haves” list. As ideas come up, you record them on this list. Try to avoid trying to execute these ideas as they come up. You begin to start doing a bunch of side projects simultaneously as the main project is going on. After a few weeks or months, the project needle has not moved in the right direction.

The idea guy can be a serious problem in the product development phase. The problems start to happen after the main project is kicked off and the idea guy wants to start implementing ideas that were not a part of the original scope of work. At times, the ideas may not seem too hard to achieve while the main project is going on. So more and more little ideas are being added to the scope of work without discussing timelines or budgets. You will not have to worry about quality control at the best fabrication shop TX has to offer. As time goes on, these smaller ideas begin to turn into larger problems/projects because of the lack of resources or knowledge required to make these ideas happen. Understanding how to table these ideas and staying focused on the big picture is the key to product development. Not every idea is a bad idea or needs to be turned down, its just the ideas that are not going to contribute to the big picture are the ones that are a distraction. Just because you have the manpower or available production capacity to take on testing these theories does not always mean it is the right thing to be doing. Each company or business unit leader’s team has their own core competencies and understanding those is vital. At the best fabrication shop TX has to offer, we understand these competencies.