It may seem evident that engineering design is critical to sheet metal fabrication. However, while many components look good on paper (or as a CAD drawing), there could be hidden costs the engineer wasn’t aware of. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know, so working with a metal fabricator that offers engineering design can help reduce costs for your components or products.
A product engineer for a company is focused primarily on its product line, so the breadth of experience or knowledge or experience may be narrow. And if you inherited the design from someone with a mindset of “this is how we’ve always done it,” it can be easy to not want to step on toes by making changes.
Some companies don’t have an engineering staff or are thin on engineers, so in this instance, it becomes critical to work with a fabricator that can offer engineering design services.
Benefits of Engineering Design
Working with a company metal fabricator that offers design engineering services provides many benefits by optimizing the process, design, and products for metal fabrication. The engineers can not only help you design your product, but they will also challenge existing designs from the component level through the system level to ensure the part can be manufactured and unnecessary costs removed. Benefits include improved quality, greater efficiency, and, of course, reduced costs.
Poorly designed products can create a ripple effect through your organization and supply chain. You may experience high material costs, production delays, issues at assembly, engineering change orders, late deliveries, scheduling challenges, unhappy customers, and more. All of these add costs to your product. Your metal fabricator’s engineers will be able to prevent many of these costs by evaluating your design before it goes into production.
The Engineering Process
If you use your metal fabricator as a contract engineering service, they will work with you from the beginning to ensure your product needs are fulfilled most efficiently and cost-effectively. If you have an existing product, they can evaluate your design to optimize it. They evaluate materials, components, secondary operations, and fabrication equipment, and some will do design analysis. Those with more robust engineering services will have mechanical and electrical engineers to provide a total solution.
The material choice makes up a sizable percentage of the costs. Engineers will ensure the material chosen is the most cost-effective while considering regulatory requirements, durability, strength, functionality, the product’s environment, material compatibility, weight, and manufacturing equipment compatibility.
The engineer will look at how components work and move with other components and determine if it is possible to combine them into one. They may also look across products to see if standardizing a component makes sense to reduce costs. The goal of designing fewer parts is to reduce inventory costs, make assembly easier, and improve efficiency. Within that same vein, the engineers may evaluate how parts are assembled and make design improvements – for example, welding as opposed to riveting or vice versa.
If an engineer can redesign to reduce secondary operations, further cost reductions may be possible.
Fabrication equipment is limited by size and tolerances, so the engineer will ensure your product can be made on their equipment. Unusual design characteristics may require additional tooling, adding costs and reducing manufacturing efficiency. Sometimes a design change can eliminate the need for additional tooling.
Advanced engineering services may offer different analysis solutions, such as stress analysis to see how your product and the material will react in use. This can help it determine weak points that can prevent failure in the field. For fluid-holding vessels, such as those used in the food industry, a fluid dynamic simulation program can be used to model fluid flow, heat transfer, and chemical reactions in the chamber.
Experience Engineering Value With Cameron
For forty years, we have been a leading manufacturer of custom metal products that require fabrication, CNC machining, welding, engineering, and installation. Back by this experience and knowledge gained, our mechanical and electrical engineers can work to reduce costs by optimizing your part for manufacturing and functionality. Our Engineering Design Services can assist with equipment engineering (mechanical and electrical controls and test equipment, chemical process equipment, and food-grade process piping and equipment), sound structures (engineering design, machine enclosures and sound abatement, and more) and Machine tooling and materials handling (assembly fixtures, automation material handling, bulk material handling tanks and hoppers, and more). In addition, we offer premier project management that includes the scope and development of project schedules.We also hold multiple certifications — including an ISO 9001 accreditation — to ensure our customers receive products that live up to their expectations. When your project requires mechanical and electrical engineering design, consider Cameron. Talk to one of our experts today!