50 ways to leave your lover

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover…. And to Solve a Problem

Stephen Field - Lead Consultant, Product Design

By: Stephen Field
Lead Consultant, Product Design

15th November 2017

Home » Stephen Field

There are ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ according to singer Paul Simon in his hit song from 1975. Looking back, he only managed to recommend five, quite vague, ways of extricating yourself from a physical relationship. I suppose you’d call that false advertising, or perhaps, over-promising and under-delivering.

Of course, Paul is only tapping into his own personal experiences and knowledge. There are likely more than fifty ways to leave one’s lover and, with no pretence of a subtle transition, I move on to compare the themes of this song to the role of the engineering designer.

In terms of mechanical design, there are usually many ways to solve a design problem. In fact, you’ll be able to find parallels here that relate to any design or engineering specialism. While there are numerous solutions to a problem, no one person, no matter how clever or experienced, can have sufficient insight to see all the possible approaches. Each of us has a limitation on what training and experience we have received and what life has exposed us to. This knowledge informs how we react to design challenges; how we approach them and the courses of action we inherently pursue.

Collaboratively, we can accomplish so much more. The adage ‘two heads are better than one’ is completely true in this scenario. Working together to solve problems enables a much wider experience to fertilise the problem-solving egg. When done at the right time, this can be amplified by the use of brainstorming techniques.

Brainstorming is most effective when the team is comprised of a diverse range of backgrounds. An individual’s engineering experiences ensures each member brings something unique to the creative process and we’re able to visualise many possible solutions as a result. Brainstorming helps us avoid simply opting for the first solution that comes to mind, which may not be the best. Furthermore, working in a team also helps the creative process. One idea sparks another, and so on.

A diverse team with an open dialogue approach to the creative process allows for the introduction of different ways of seeing the world and the challenges we face. These varied viewpoints help to steer the design to the best solution. The person who can see the holes in another’s plan has just as an important contribution as the one making the suggestion.

The moral of the story; during the creative phase of the design process – share and collaborate with your colleagues. Almost certainly they will have a perspective you’ve not seen. When faced with a mental block over your design, share and welcome different and even opposing views from a supportive team. Make a new plan, Stan.

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There are ‘50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ according to singer Paul Simon in his hit song from 1975. Looking back, he only managed to recommend five, quite vague, ways of extricating yourself from a physical relationship. I suppose you’d call that false advertising, or perhaps, over-promising and under-delivering.

Of course, Paul is only tapping into his own personal experiences and knowledge. There are likely more than fifty ways to leave one’s lover and, with no pretence of a subtle transition, I move on to compare the themes of this song to the role of the engineering designer.

In terms of mechanical design, there are usually many ways to solve a design problem. In fact, you’ll be able to find parallels here that relate to any design or engineering specialism. While there are numerous solutions to a problem, no one person, no matter how clever or experienced, can have sufficient insight to see all the possible approaches. Each of us has a limitation on what training and experience we have received and what life has exposed us to. This knowledge informs how we react to design challenges; how we approach them and the courses of action we inherently pursue.

Collaboratively, we can accomplish so much more. The adage ‘two heads are better than one’ is completely true in this scenario. Working together to solve problems enables a much wider experience to fertilise the problem-solving egg. When done at the right time, this can be amplified by the use of brainstorming techniques.

Brainstorming is most effective when the team is comprised of a diverse range of backgrounds. An individual’s engineering experiences ensures each member brings something unique to the creative process and we’re able to visualise many possible solutions as a result. Brainstorming helps us avoid simply opting for the first solution that comes to mind, which may not be the best. Furthermore, working in a team also helps the creative process. One idea sparks another, and so on.

A diverse team with an open dialogue approach to the creative process allows for the introduction of different ways of seeing the world and the challenges we face. These varied viewpoints help to steer the design to the best solution. The person who can see the holes in another’s plan has just as an important contribution as the one making the suggestion.

The moral of the story; during the creative phase of the design process – share and collaborate with your colleagues. Almost certainly they will have a perspective you’ve not seen. When faced with a mental block over your design, share and welcome different and even opposing views from a supportive team. Make a new plan, Stan.

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Electronic Enclosures

Electronic Enclosures

Stephen Field - Lead Consultant, Product Design

By: Stephen Field
Senior Consultant, Product Design

15th March 2017

Home » Stephen Field

Elecs1

So you want to put some electronics in a ‘box’, how hard can that be? The world is full of electronics in boxes…. it’s easy, isn’t it? 

Of course, there is a world of difference between a sophisticated electronic device in a demanding aerospace environment and a cheap-as-chips, perhaps even disposable, consumer product. However, many of the same considerations apply at both ends of this range.

In common with other areas of design, the ‘thing’ that the mechanical designer creates very much depends upon the demands of the customer as itemised in the requirements specification. In an ideal world, the customer knows enough to be able to create a comprehensive specification document. This is often not the case and so the designer will use their knowledge and experience to steer the design in the right direction.

This short piece introduces some of the elements the mechanical designer has to contemplate as they embark on the creation of a new electronics enclosure. I hope, through this discussion, the reader will begin to appreciate the many aspects that influence the design of the humble ‘box’. It is the designer’s experience and innate feel for their subject that allows them to create products from a blank page.

Depending on the requirements placed upon the designer, some of the things to consider are listed below. Many of these constraints are customer wishes. Some, especially regarding safety, are legislated for by national, EU or international agreements.

Elecs2Size and weight – seldom are these unimportant to any customer. Even if it is not a specific requirement, these parameters become significant when it comes to considering the cost of packing and shipping the product.

Ergonomics and aesthetics – the user experience is an important factor especially, but not exclusively, for consumer products. In my long career, I have never met a customer, or a fellow team member for that matter, who does not have a view on how a product should look.

They often do not know what they want until they see some conceptual ideas. One of the key skills of the designer is to create tangible schemes from the often vague notions of others. Later, the designer must be able to hold all the relevant requirements in mind as these same others try to steer into impractical cul-de-sacs with words like ‘just’, ‘only’ and the ubiquitous ‘something’.

Heat dissipation – any power used will generate heat. Excessive heat may cause degradation of performance and/or reduced component life. Many factors can affect what strategies can be put in place for heat removal.

Specialist knowledge and software are sometimes needed to optimise the thermal design of a system. However, this route often takes time, resources and experience. An understanding of the general principles, coupled with some early empirical evaluation is sometimes more beneficial.

Ingress protection – protect products from the intrusion of everything from screwdrivers and fingers to dust and high-pressure water spray.

Elecs4EMC protection – ensure to protect from harmful radio signals and to ensure there is no leakage from the product that might be detrimental to other devices.

Protection from vibration and impact – accidents can happen and protection is needed for a whole host of scenarios. This can range from: products being bulk transported, consumer use and misuse and products being dropped. You might need to consider the vibration encountered in a lorry engine bay or the launch environment of a space satellite.

Each case is different. Sometimes experience and sound practice are sufficient to ensure a reliable product. Occasionally, analysis and testing are necessary to be absolutely sure the product is fit for purpose and, crucially, safe.

Safety from electrical shock – always make sure that you are protecting the user, whether they are a skilled technician or an inquisitive child.

Electrostatic safety – many semiconductor components can easily suffer damage by being subjected to electrostatic discharge.

Electrostatic discharge safety – specialist products that are required to operate in explosive atmospheres have to be designed to eliminate the chance of them generating or propagating a spark.

Elecs5In parallel with considering the above requirements, the designer must adapt their design approach to suit the expected manufacturing volumes. This will inform the choices of materials and the manufacturing techniques employed.

The manufacturing techniques are also influenced by the budget available for setting up the manufacturing capability; the tooling as well as the expected country of manufacture, the assembly process used and the market for the product.

In recent times, the designer has had to begin to consider the ease of disposal and recycling at the end of the product life. This is a good example of where international treaty and agreement between governments can be used to enforce behaviour that would not come about through market forces.

Holding a good understanding of these requirements and knowing which ones are essential and most desired; so that trade-offs and compromises can be agreed upon to best meet the overall goals is key to a successful product design process.

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Elecs1So you want to put some electronics in a ‘box’, how hard can that be? The world is full of electronics in boxes…. it’s easy, isn’t it?

Of course, there is a world of difference between a sophisticated electronic device in a demanding aerospace environment and a cheap-as-chips, perhaps even disposable, consumer product. However, many of the same considerations apply at both ends of this range.

In common with other areas of design, the ‘thing’ that the mechanical designer creates very much depends upon the demands of the customer as itemised in the requirements specification. In an ideal world, the customer knows enough to be able to create a comprehensive specification document. This is often not the case and so the designer will use their knowledge and experience to steer the design in the right direction.

This short piece introduces some of the elements the mechanical designer has to contemplate as they embark on the creation of a new electronics enclosure. I hope, through this discussion, the reader will begin to appreciate the many aspects that influence the design of the humble ‘box’. It is the designer’s experience and innate feel for their subject that allows them to create products from a blank page.

Depending on the requirements placed upon the designer, some of the things to consider are listed below. Many of these constraints are customer wishes. Some, especially regarding safety, are legislated for by National, EU or international agreements.

Elecs2Size and weight – seldom are these unimportant to any customer. Even if it is not a specific requirement, these parameters become significant when it comes to considering the cost of packing and shipping the product.

Ergonomics and aesthetics – the user experience is an important factor especially, but not exclusively, for consumer products. In my long career, I have never met a customer, or a fellow team member for that matter, who does not have a view on how a product should look.

They often do not know what they want until they see some conceptual ideas. One of the key skills of the designer is to create tangible schemes from the often vague notions of others. Later, the designer must be able to hold all the relevant requirements in mind as these same others try to steer into impractical cul-de-sacs with words like ‘just’, ‘only’ and the ubiquitous ‘something’.

Heat dissipation – any power used will generate heat. Excessive heat may cause degradation of performance and/or reduced component life. Many factors can affect what strategies can be put in place for heat removal.

Specialist knowledge and software are sometimes needed to optimise the thermal design of a system. However, this route often takes time, resources and experience. An understanding of the general principles, coupled with some early empirical evaluation is sometimes more beneficial.

Ingress protection – protect products from the intrusion of everything from screwdrivers and fingers to dust and high-pressure water spray.

Elecs4EMC protection – ensure to protect from harmful radio signals and to ensure there is no leakage from the product that might be deterimental to other devices.

Protection from vibration and impact – accidents can happen and protection is needed for a whole host of scenarios. This can range from: products being bulk transported, consumer use and misuse and products being dropped. You might need to consider the vibration encountered in a lorry engine bay or the launch environment of a space satellite.

Each case is different. Sometimes experience and sound practice are sufficient to ensure a reliable product. Occasionally, much analysis and testing are necessary to be absolutely sure the product is fit for purpose and, crucially, safe.

Safety from electrical shock – always make sure that you are protecting the user, whether they are a skilled technician or an inquisitive child.

Electrostatic safety – many semiconductor components can easily suffer damage by being subjected to electrostatic discharge.

Electrostatic discharge safety – specialist products that are required to operate in explosive atmospheres have to be designed to eliminate the chance of them generating or propagating a spark.

Elecs5In parallel with considering the above requirements, the designer must adapt their design approach to suit the expected manufacturing volumes. This will inform the choices of materials and the manufacturing techniques employed.

The manufacturing techniques are also influenced by the budget available for setting up the manufacturing capability; the tooling as well as the expected country of manufacture, the assembly process used and the market for the product.

In recent times, the designer has had to begin to consider the ease of disposal and recycling at the end of the product life. This is a good example of where international treaty and agreement between governments can be used to enforce behaviour that would not come about through market forces.

Holding a good understanding of these requirements and knowing which ones are essential and most desired; so that trade-offs and compromises can be agreed upon to best meet the overall goals is key to a successful product design process.

Save

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Save

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