Jul 14, 2009

Separation of powers

As a "project engineer" I've come to appreciate why larger companies put R&D in a different building- so they can get something done. Anytime part of your duties include supporting manufacturing, you have a very hard time setting aside enough time to accomplish significant design goals. Instead the manufacturing support gets done and the development that can be done reasonably quickly gets done in spare time, research a new fitting-sure. Seriously, there is nothing I can do about part Z getting here 3 weeks late, yet I am dragged into those discussions all the time.

So if you're running a company or managing engineers, keep your functions separate, or else realize that someone working 25% on manufacturing support is in reality going to spend 75% of his time on it. Don't even drag them into it, you might help in the short run, but in the long run you're worse off if the entire company is running around putting out the fire of the moment.

6 comments:

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norm howe said...

I agree that there's a risk that engineers will get dragged into firefighting much too often. However, our experience turned out great.

We brought our development, mfg, and construction engineering groups together under one roof and saw big improvements in productivity. Each group learned from the others. Equipment designers got feedback about ergonomics directly from operators. Mfg managers learned how much work even a small design change can be when it happens late in a project.

The key for us was having a terrific engineering manager who could keep everyone focused without being obtrusive.

Pat said...

I totally agree with the original comments. I am a 26 year vet of the medical device arena and I can see your point. CG3consulting.com Patrick Kullmann, Founder.

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Medical Device Recruiters said...

We have been working with many medical device companies and I couldn't agree more. A main reason of isolating the R&D department is to give them or provided them with the much required independence and authority so that their changes / modifications in the products do not get impacted in any way by the influences of the manufacturing function.

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