Productivity within the mechanical engineering sector is not the same as that in for example supply chain management or factory production. The design process in particularly can be hectic and it is the variable that most impacts results. It is more about the process than the final result, even when working on a quantified intelligent draft that took your time yet didn’t work – maybe the design could be improved or replaced. Being able to back track on previous actions can save wasting the rest of the day working on false end results.
We therefore present five tricks to improve your efficiency, hence boosting your work process and consequently reaching your end results faster, delivering a top quality mechanical design.
Automate the repetitive work
While working, if you notice patterns or repetitive tasks you are going through, whether analysing results and shapes or performing the same operations with slightly different parameters, think about automating them. The more time you can save on the repetitive areas of work, the more time can be spent on the design. You should also consider macros when creating an application, parametering your model or designing a final template to treat your results, software packages nowadays offer most of these options.
Use graphs and visuals whenever possible
One of the unattractive and frankly boring ways to quickly go through info and circulate it is by writing. Instead of writing about your Xth iteration, try to turn your results into graphs, charts and anything visual that can speak. Even better: add the previous results for comparison and avoid text unless necessary. Make sure any text is presented in short technical sentences which get straight to the point.
Work with clean and parametered models
Get into the habit of cleaning as you go along and saving frequently. This is not just in case of a blackout or a blue screen. You will frequently be called on to provide extensions, not necessarily in your original software, and lines of construction or spread out code can very quickly lead to a mass of filing and more documents than you really need. Keep a simple base model which you can refer to in the event of corruption of the original design. Saving files under a different extension for third party requests keeps everything in order, but without a clean base model it will take longer and will be a frustrating task to correct any filing errors. Good CAD housekeeping is extremely important for any efficient mechanical design engineer.
Keep a document within your folder of iterations
Many people think they have the memory of an elephant and don’t bother documenting the development process. However, unless you are a seasoned senior who knows what they can actually remember, and what they should write down, you should get used to having a word document or a notepad to hand. Even just describing in a few technical words what your current version of a model is about, what went wrong that required a new one, and so on can make a massive difference when looking back. Having the process depicted along the way barely takes seconds of your time and creates an efficient map of your journey, thus allowing you to take steps back or tweak early modifications as and when required.
Even if the office has its own archive, departments tend to archive the end result, not the iterations and those can prove very useful and on occasions life saving. If a particularly hard step crops up on numerous occasions in the project, your experience of how you overcame it will be available for studies and providing quick solutions in the future. Also, if after several months the customer requires the end results again, or complains about an error found in a project that was closed a year ago, being able to display your detailed work, kept secure on your station, will save so much time. This review may or may not incriminate you but very quickly a swift conclusion can be achieved therefore avoiding what could be such a messy affair. A lack of paperwork and stage by stage notes could in some circumstances result in the loss of clients and possibly further recriminations.