Systematic Problem Solving (Design Engineering)

30 Apr

I started getting involved with design & appreciating its importance for running an efficient manufacturing operation right at the beginning of my manufacturing engineering career, specifically when dealing with automated equipment.

Avery Dennison is on the top of my list of good companies to work for. They try their best to run an efficient operation at minimum cost, and for that reason they hire contractors when their work load increases, usually due to a new product or process release. I was fortunate enough to get a contract job from them, they were trying to debug productivity issues with a new product. They had developed all tools & released the Business Card product family for production, but they were producing 50% rejects, problem was complex, there was no way to have visibility on what was causing the problem, dies, presses, set up, operators, materials, design tolerances, …..?

They hired me & gave me the authority to do what I needed to do, & identify the root cause of the problem. I have a system for situations like this, I put my system together by combining a series of methods that I learned by working with a variety of experts in automation & custom equipment designers, and studying on my own, as well as my experience with developing configuration management for following the product characteristics throughout its life-cycle.

It is not unusual for me to take responsibility for solving problems with products that I have never had any experience working with before. In fact it is one of my strengths, I do my own research in addition to company provided facts & establish the standards & specifications for design, I learned how to do this by working on design & development of custom equipment. So the first thing I did was identifying the factors that influenced the product quality. Next I worked with managers, to put together a team for communicating needs, limitations, & implementing solutions. We worked very well together as a team, thanks to the culture within Avery! I make the long story short, we discovered the root causes of the problem, the main issue laid within supplied materials, secondary problem laid within die fabrication/maintenance.

I also have a habit of putting my studies & evaluations in a presentation package to support the work that I leave behind. After solving the problem, & upon approval from Avery, I completed the package, & left Avery with a very good memory of them & the time that I spent working for them. In fact, later when I called for a recommendation letter, they asked me to go in, they needed me for another job!

This time they wanted me to debug & install a die inspection equipment, they had hired another contractor & he had elongated the project for a year, but had delivered no results. As soon as I got to plant, I stared assessing the equipment, evaluating it visually, identifying its capability by checking out its features. The plant engineer filled me out with what was expected from the equipment, & I just saw no compatibility between the equipment capability & what was expected of it! In order to prove my point, I asked the maintenance technician a few questions, & he agreed that the equipment was not able to deliver the accuracy that their products needed, even if it was fixed & installed! Within an hour, I had put myself out of work! But Avery showed faith in my skills, & asked me to stay on board & design the replacement equipment for them myself.

I was very happy, but as I always had, I first started researching & found a company who was designing/building a very similar equipment very inexpensive, & they agreed to build our equipment for a very low-cost & in a very short period of time. Within three months Avery had their new equipment installed & running. Avery kept on giving me more work, like justifying capital investment for printers, till I had to leave, I wanted to take Industrial Design courses at Georgia Tech.


Thank you.

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