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Concurrent Engineering

Balaji NP
September 5, 2012

Concurrent Engineering is defined as the work process in which geographically dispersed engineering teams can work in parallel on a single project to reduce the total engineering time. Such geographically dispersed teams are common in multinational corporations with operations in various countries and also when a company works with an offshore engineering service provider. Project teams also now include participants from major Tier-1 suppliers who bring specialized knowledge and skills to the project.

In earlier times, when a project team was set up to work on any engineering project, it was usual to move desks to seat the team adjacent to each other and within eye-line of the Project Leader. This seating was said to have the advantages of team building, fostering informal communication between team members and also helped the Project Leader to keep an eye on the project progress and keep the team focused on the project objectives. Most engineering work is now done with computers and on CAD platforms. Work habits have changed with people accessing computers from home, on the road and at flexible times including evening hours and weekends. This change in work habits has fostered the culture of project teams depending on computer data bases for project progress and updates, problem resolution, communication and collaboration in place of face-to-face meetings.

Once the computer screen becomes the primary communication medium, much of the logic in project teams working near is lost and the internet permits a virtual project team made up of geographically dispersed teams.

Let us now look at an example of such a Concurrent Engineering project.
In this Concurrent Project, Altran Engineering Solutions supported Design to Manufacturing services of a communication hub for an American manufacturer of Office furniture, Equipment and Home Furnishings.

The steps in Concurrent Engineering were:

  • Getting the offshore service provider’s lead engineer to the US for a 4-week orientation with the US Company’s Project Manager. The orientation covered the product design process including applicable standards, the manufacturing process, the quality processes including acceptance testing, the field failure reports and the Project manager’s own thoughts on the approach to engineering the product.
    This 4 week personal interaction also helped establish comfort between the US based Project Manager and the offshore team lead.
    The offshore lead, besides training himself on the US Company’s work processes, also collected internal documentation to take back to the offshore team
  • The offshore team over the next 2 weeks performed a detailed solution analysis on the features required by the client. They also stripped the products down to the component level to determine the cost associated with each feature. The findings were communicated by remote desktop sharing to the Project Manager in the US, who also invited his Marketing manager to participate.
  • Based on the above exercise, a product design specification was drawn up by the offshore team and after discussion was accepted by the Project Manager. The design cost and effort was estimated and a budget was allocated.
  • A dedicated messenger service – “Sametime” was setup and remote desktop sharing was set up which created the platform to share all the Project related documentation, communication between team members, progress reports, time sheets and related information. This platform was accessible by the US based Project manager, designated employees of the US company’s major suppliers, internal manufacturing, QA and Marketing teams and the offshore design team. In addition, it provided for issue resolution time lines with provision for automatic escalation in the event of delays.
    The platform also hosted the schematics, assembly pictures, component placement pictures of the project that could be accessed from the US for Project reviews.
  • Once the design was completed, prototype build activity was started with photographs of components being periodically uploaded. Once the preliminary prototype was completed, the Project Manager from the US travelled to India for review of the prototype and to carry samples back to the US for showing to the team there.
  • The changes needed to the prototype from the review feedback from the US Company were completed and revised prototypes were taken up for testing. The test results were uploaded on the platform and reviewed by the US based QA team.
  • The final product design was completed and shared to the client.
  • The offshore design team helped resolve design issues that come up during tooling, setting up the manufacturing line and pilot production

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Concurrent Engineering

Balaji NP September 5, 2012

Concurrent Engineering is defined as the work process in which geographically dispersed engineering teams can work in parallel on a single project to reduce the total engineering time. Such geographically dispersed teams are common in multinational corporations with operations in various countries and also when a company works with an offshore engineering service provider. Project teams also now include participants from major Tier-1 suppliers who bring specialized knowledge and skills to the project.

In earlier times, when a project team was set up to work on any engineering project, it was usual to move desks to seat the team adjacent to each other and within eye-line of the Project Leader. This seating was said to have the advantages of team building, fostering informal communication between team members and also helped the Project Leader to keep an eye on the project progress and keep the team focused on the project objectives. Most engineering work is now done with computers and on CAD platforms. Work habits have changed with people accessing computers from home, on the road and at flexible times including evening hours and weekends. This change in work habits has fostered the culture of project teams depending on computer data bases for project progress and updates, problem resolution, communication and collaboration in place of face-to-face meetings.

Once the computer screen becomes the primary communication medium, much of the logic in project teams working near is lost and the internet permits a virtual project team made up of geographically dispersed teams.

Let us now look at an example of such a Concurrent Engineering project. In this Concurrent Project, Altran Engineering Solutions supported Design to Manufacturing services of a communication hub for an American manufacturer of Office furniture, Equipment and Home Furnishings.

The steps in Concurrent Engineering were:

  • Getting the offshore service provider’s lead engineer to the US for a 4-week orientation with the US Company’s Project Manager. The orientation covered the product design process including applicable standards, the manufacturing process, the quality processes including acceptance testing, the field failure reports and the Project manager’s own thoughts on the approach to engineering the product. This 4 week personal interaction also helped establish comfort between the US based Project Manager and the offshore team lead. The offshore lead, besides training himself on the US Company’s work processes, also collected internal documentation to take back to the offshore team
  • The offshore team over the next 2 weeks performed a detailed solution analysis on the features required by the client. They also stripped the products down to the component level to determine the cost associated with each feature. The findings were communicated by remote desktop sharing to the Project Manager in the US, who also invited his Marketing manager to participate.
  • Based on the above exercise, a product design specification was drawn up by the offshore team and after discussion was accepted by the Project Manager. The design cost and effort was estimated and a budget was allocated.
  • A dedicated messenger service – “Sametime” was setup and remote desktop sharing was set up which created the platform to share all the Project related documentation, communication between team members, progress reports, time sheets and related information. This platform was accessible by the US based Project manager, designated employees of the US company’s major suppliers, internal manufacturing, QA and Marketing teams and the offshore design team. In addition, it provided for issue resolution time lines with provision for automatic escalation in the event of delays. The platform also hosted the schematics, assembly pictures, component placement pictures of the project that could be accessed from the US for Project reviews.
  • Once the design was completed, prototype build activity was started with photographs of components being periodically uploaded. Once the preliminary prototype was completed, the Project Manager from the US travelled to India for review of the prototype and to carry samples back to the US for showing to the team there.
  • The changes needed to the prototype from the review feedback from the US Company were completed and revised prototypes were taken up for testing. The test results were uploaded on the platform and reviewed by the US based QA team.
  • The final product design was completed and shared to the client.
  • The offshore design team helped resolve design issues that come up during tooling, setting up the manufacturing line and pilot production