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The Advantage of creating a powerful design, engineering and/or manufacturing team

The Advantage
“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”~Jim Rohn

If you are a leader; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. If you aren’t a leader, but consider yourself a team player; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. The end goal is the same, so stop looking at someone else to pick up the slack. You are in the driver seat, and you can be the driving force for how your team success.

Imagine two teams.

The first is full of team members who are open with one another, passionately debate important issues, and commit to clear decisions even if they highly disagree. They call each other out when needed, always trying to help each other out, and focus their attention and energy on the good for the organization.

The second is a random group of people who are guarded and less then honest with one another. They hold back during difficult conversations, and hesitate to call one another on unproductive behaviors. Often they pursue their own agendas rather than those of the greater organisation.

The question: What kind of advantage would the first team have over the second, and how much time and energy would it be worth investing to make this advantage a reality?

It doesn’t matter if you are part of a design team surrounded by the latest hip furniture, colors and Macintosh, or if this is a shop floor, blue collar, CNC cutting oil crew.
Building a great team takes the same steps.

Collectively Responsible
When being part of a team it is normal that not everyone is at the same level. Some have more experience because they have done the job longer, some of the team members might even get paid more, but it is important that everyone understand that everyone do carry part of the load. If you do not bring something to the team, even just an opinion, you might not belong there.

Common Objective
It’s not only important to get the team together, it is also important to get everyone looking in the same direction. Your help to the team can be as simple as asking “What is the end goal look like? What should be considered? And what is the steps to get there?”. That question can help the team figuring out how to make the next design project come within budget, or lead the next shipment of parts being delivered on time.

Building trust
Don’t you hate sitting in a room where you feel someone has their own agenda? It’s important to understand that when trust is questioned, vulnerability is many times the factor. The absolute first step is to put yourself in their shoe’s. If you were that person, would you have concerns? For a team to build trust it is essential that the team gets to a point where things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I’m confused,” and even “I’m sorry,” can be said. Consider it might be in your best interest to lead in this category.

Achieving commitment
As a team leader it is pretty clear that one of your objective is to get commitment from your team. But, even just as a team member it’s critical that you not only are open to give your commitment, but also seek commitment from others. Sometimes when tasks are at hand that you do not want to do, remembering your commitment to be committed to the team might be the signal to role up your sleeves and get things done.

Conclusion
There can be no question of the advantage of a strong team, but creating such a team is like a marriage, it takes constant effort from everyone involved. If there is a starting point, I would recommend the 6 critical questions from Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Advantage”.
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?
4. How will we succeed?
5. What is most important, right now?
6. Who must do what?

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s take “the advantage” and make better teams!

SolidWorks to Inventor Project files

Light bulb
This is not much of an article, but just a short post on one of those strange things we sometimes come across that in the moment seem very difficult to wrap your head around, but in the end is nothing more than a confused state that easily can be explained.
Inventor Project files
Going from being a SolidWorks expert to a Inventor rookie. Well, that is kind of the place I am living these days, and though the two CAD programs are extremely similar and easy to use, I have to admit that I had to stop and investigate. Want to know more? check out this video…

link

Welcome to Autodesk University Day -1(The day before the day)

People are streaming to Las Vegas for one of the hottest event of the year, Autodesk University.
Porsche
Now, I’m pretty excited, this is my first AU, but on top of that I have had the chance to spend most of the day behind closed door inside the exhibit hall.
Tomorrow night the exhibit hall will open up for 10,000 people who all are creating, designing and creating the world we are living in.
Here is a few images as we where setting things up for all of you, and if you have the time to stop by The MFG Spot I would love to say hello.
Hanging the glider
CAM Booth
5 Axis
Bike stand
Bike with Banner
Autodesk CAM
Cool Car
Hope to see you tomorrow!

The design of your world is changing, are you going to change with it?

“To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…And to venture in the highest sense is precisely to become conscious of one’s self.”
-Søren KierkegaardThe design world cadcamstuff



If you are pretty set on holding on to your flip phone, and you are not going to improve your efforts at work because the tools you used in the past did the job just fine, this blog post is probably not for you.

I love the world we are living in. It is fast-moving and it seems like every day offers a new app or a software function you can’t picture living without. It’s change, and though change is good, many times it also can be overwhelming and a little frightening. Design and manufacturing companies are reinventing themselves every day. They are trying to be faster and more efficient; simply, to do more with less. This means that everything around us is changing faster than it ever has, and it has a cost: lots of information, choices and eventually pressure. Even the guy on the factory line is expected to reinvent and streamline processes in today’s world.
How are we supposed to handle all this stress and responsibility? We know that the company we work for has to use the latest software programs and machines. We understand that it has to adapt and move forward. The company has to follow that mission statement and fight for the vision to stay in business. But it is also time for us to change; the times where the boss told us to push the green button and end our shift at 5pm is gone. But it’s not just because we need to hold onto our jobs that we need to change; the human thought pattern has changed. As the companies we are working for are changing to streamline, working smarter and faster, we also have to reprogram ourselves, if not for anything else, to stay sane. The answer is to give ourselves a promotion. We need to “level up”, be welcome to management and leadership: management and leadership of ourselves.

In the book The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work, and What to Do About It, Michael Gerber shares many tips and tricks, not just how to manage a business, but also how we can manage ourselves through change. See, the two entities have to follow one another; a business cannot change without the people changing.

The Problem: Why management doesn’t work, and what to do about it
The fact is that regular, good old management methods do not work in our fast moving world. There are some new twists: one is the technological revolution, which is forcing us all to do more, faster; the other is the aftermath of reengineering, which is forcing us to do more with fewer people. Our problem is that we are still focused on the old ways where we believe we work for a boss (or we might even call him an Emperor), instead of realizing we are working for ourselves. Lead yourself, manage yourself. This will make you a better and happier employee, and function better as a person.

Via The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work, and What to Do About It:
Recognizing the myth of management, and the motivation of most managers, is a healthy step toward applying the entrepreneurial mindset to your job, that is: becoming an e-myth manager. But taking action and beginning to reinvent the work that you do is often the hardest step to take. The following rules will guide you in your quest to give up the drug of Emperor dependence. These are the rules that shape your life as an e-myth manager, and consequently, influence your relationship with everyone around you. I call them the Seven Rules of Management Independence. They are:

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Know you have the power to get it.
  3. There can be no causes other than your own.
  4. If you cannot manage yourself you cannot manage anything.
  5. There are no simple answers, only complex questions.
  6. Before it gets better it is going to get worse.
  7. These rules must become the defining principles of your life.

In the book, Michael Gerber (The Emperor) is having a number of meetings with one of his employees. Jack is hard at work for Michael’s company, doing what is asked of him. As many of us, he has pushed limits of his personal life to accomplish tasks that were beyond the duty of his job responsibilities. He gave up his time, often studying into the night and working long hours every day. But with an ever fast-moving world, full of changes, even the smallest bump in the road can turn to total unhappiness. When productivity is down in our department, profits are low, and the joy in our work is gone, it can hit us like a ton of bricks. Change becomes scary. The problem is that we many times have lost our way; we are living someone else’s vision.
Let us explore a few of Michael Gerber’s “Seven Rules of Independence”.

Rule 1: Know what you want…
Start to dream; the truth is that we all get so easily caught up in our daily routines. We need to start dreaming about what we want, dream about what our job should look like, how our family should be; dream about who we want to be as individuals. Then, write it down on paper. Writing it down makes it a vision; this vision is our honest desire.
Our new vision does not mean that we have to quit our jobs. (It might make us do just that; but if it does, everyone is better off anyway.) Our vision is what is going make us jump out of bed in the morning. And our vision can most certainly go hand in hand with the vision of the company we work for. In my company, Autodesk, vision is to be a leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. If my vision was to spend as much time as possible outside in nature and I hated interacting with computers, that would not align very well with Autodesk’s vision, would it? But I love design and engineering; I am like a kid in a candy store when I get to play with the latest and greatest design software. My vision and Autodesk’s vision align. I know what I want, and Autodesk is the perfect partner in my vision.

Via The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work, and What to Do About It:

You may be put off by the idea of having to know what you want, and it may take some a while to figure it out. But until you do, you will be no closer to owning your job, to managing your organization, or to increasing your enjoyment of what you do. To fulfill your potential, to be more than a mere reflection of someone else’s vision, it is absolutely essential for you to learn how to match the boss’ intensity, rather than reflect it. And the only way you can honestly do that is through the pursuit of your own vision.

Rule 2: Know you have the power to get it…
People hunger for purpose. Without our own, we are immediately distracted into the misguided belief that anyone’s purpose will do.
We do not want to wake up one day and say to ourselves, “Who am I? Where am I? What happened?” This does not mean that we should totally disregard our company’s strategies or goals; if we are going to keep working for our company, we should work on aligning our vision with our company’s vision. If we are willing to change, we have an incredible power to also change things around us.

Via The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work, and What to Do About It:
Not only must you be certain of what you want for yourself, you must also be certain that you understand the importance of this statement: “Once you know what you want, only you can get it. You can’t delegate the responsibility for inventing your own life.”

Rule 3: There can be no causes other than your own.
[You have to read the book for this one]

Rule 4: If you cannot manage yourself, you cannot manage anything.
We have to start with ourselves. We have to create a relationship with ourselves as individuals; look at ourselves from above and change to who we want to be. We cannot control everything, but we can engage, connect and change our behavior.

Via The E-Myth Manager: Why Management Doesn’t Work, and What to Do About It:

So to manage oneself, it is necessary to think in terms of standards, and before you can think of standards you must first have a Vision for yourself. This Vision should encompass who you wish to become–Not who you are. But understand, if the person you see in your Vision is the same as the person you are, only doing something different, it is not a Vision, it is a dream. Bill Gates doesn’t dream about Microsoft, he envisions it. He envisions a Microsoft universe. Understand, I’m not talking about the content of Bill Gates’ Vision here; I’m talking about the scale of it. It’s the scale of one’s Vision that shapes one’s life. And so I bring you the idea that there are no small people, only small visions.

Conclusion…
The task can seem overwhelming. We get another design change thrown at our already overflowing calendar, or our boss asks us to solve a problem with the new piece of equipment. But if we are on the edge, and things are piling up a little too fast in our world, it might be a good time to take a break for a few hours and find a quiet place to dream; to create a vision and make the right things happen in our own world.

Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing to the next level

3DPrinter Manaufacturing
3D printing has been around for a long time, but not until recently has this technology reached a level where traditional manufacturing facilities are taking it seriously.

The process called “Additive Manufacturing” builds layer by layer and has been seen only as a pure prototyping process until recently. With new materials, better accuracy, various sized platforms and reasonable pricing, it has come to a point where everyone can participate.
We are not talking about the hobbyist level, though we probably have to thank them for helping push the technology.  They are also, unfortunately, the ones who created a false impression that this is merely a fancy hot glue gun that makes toys.

Autodesk 3D PrintingOn the other end of the spectrum, you have Autodesk announcing that they are investing $100 million in 3D Printing companies over the next several years. They are also developing their own 3D Printer and 3D Printer software which is open source for everyone to tinker with. (More to come in another blog post about this.)





But what about manufacturing…
Yes: what about manufacturing? Is it just prototyping and a lot of hype? The answer is no, and actually, in a way, you might see “Good old American” manufacturing waking up to glory. This is just the beginning and it is super exciting because as consumers are being more demanding, designers and engineers are looking at manufacturing for help.
Here is an example:
A company is looking for a lot of 100 molded plastic parts. Traditionally you might decide that an aluminum mold would be preferred. The cost of material is not going to set you back too much, and it should hit your doorstep within a few days if you live in United States.
3D Print Mold
If you are productive, you might have spent those couple days gathering your tooling, and even started the process of programming the job in your favorite CAM program. You could, of course, also have chosen to use a 3D Printer, and have what you see in the picture above for less than $500, before the chunk of raw aluminum even gets delivered. This takes what traditional manufacturing might consider a 5 to 7 day turnaround down to 2 days, letting you keep your CNC machine cranking real parts, thus giving you an extra 3 to 5 days to work on a new project or, if you’re lucky, to work on your back-swing.

It is getting local…
This is really what excites me: you do not need to travel to some showroom or university to see this in action; local machine shops already have this technology.
One example is Staub Inc., located less than 20 minutes from me in the outskirts of “blue collar” Buffalo, New York. Mr. Tony Staub started as many manufacturing facilities around the country did: in a garage. And when he outgrew that, he moved into a Super Duper grocery store location. Over the last 20 years, Staub Inc. has built a high precision machine shop using the latest technology within traditional CNC machining. Adding an Additive Department is not about looking far into the future.  It is about offering the latest technology to existing and new customers, while finding use for, and exploring, this great resource.

Conclusion…
Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing inside the shop, and I guarantee you, my friend, THERE is where 3D Printing will reveal its true potential.  I love it!

Why CNC Operators are like Fighter Pilots!

Fighter pilot
So you might not get the regular CNC junkie to drop down and give you 20, but besides physical shape, I dare to say that a day in the shoes of a machinist can be just about as exciting.

First off it is noisy; some places you might even have to operate half in the dark, and night vision is not standard gear in most shops. Then there is the equipment: if you don’t think that the thrill of a F-15 compares*, you have never pressed the green cycle- start button on a multi-axis machining center that rapids at 1200 inches per minute and does Tool-to-Tool change in under 3 seconds. It can be scary, but awesome!

Tom Cruise made it look easy in Top Gun, but besides reflective sunglasses and leather jackets, there are rules and best practices in preparing for a dogfight.
Top Gun Logo

Have you ever seen a pilot take a walk around and inspect the outside of an airplane? or how about the notorious checklist performed between pilot and co-pilot? Flaps, check – fuel, check – landing gear, check. It must make them almost roll their eyes of boredom every time. But would you ever take off in a plane where you knew they hadn’t done that test?
Here is the lesson we can learn from fighter pilots: Just like we are expecting the best performance from pilots and their dedication to do the checklist prior to takeoff, we should do the same before hitting the green cycle-start button on our CNC machines.

CNC Operators Pre-flight check list.
Take the time to walk around the machine to assure that all safety equipment such as guards are intact and doors are closed. This might also be a good time to make sure there are no oil spills on the floor or objects blocking the path around the machine.
What about maintenance? Coolant and way-oil levels should be topped off if needed.

Just like pilots, follow the checklist in the same order every time, and you will most likely have a safe landing in the end.
With the machine powered up, we can prepare for operation.

  1. Always start with the tooling. Why? because if you always start at the same beginning, and follow the checklist, chances are you will not forget an item that will cause a crash. We do not have any parachute for this trip. Gather all the tooling needed for the job prior to installing in the machine, and take the time to inspect it carefully. A magnifying glass might be a handy tool to inspect cutting flutes on endmills.
  2. Insert tooling into clean tool holders, and input measurements into tool length and tool diameter offset pages in the machine control. Remember to stay focused; this is not the time to dance to the latest iTunes or eat a sandwich. It is many times at this early stage where people get distracted and insert a value in the wrong column.
  3. Work holding. Indicate and secure vise or fixture…”Check!”.
  4. Insert stock into vise or fixture. Make sure everything is wiped clean of dirt and chips, and then pay extra attention that everything is secured and located against stops. We do not want to see anything come flying out of here.
  5. Work offset is important. G54-G55 is standard, but if you did not write the g-code, or did not double check the code, this could be a mission-critical error. Now go ahead and pick up the part. Double check, and then check again before saying “Check!”.
  6. Now you can go ahead and load the program into the control. Here is an important step many people decide to skip. Most controls have a graphic simulation option, and though it is not as pretty as in your CAM system, it is not a waste of your time. At least make sure you have an updated setup sheet, and an idea about what this program is about to do. If in doubt, I order you do the next step.
  7. This step is up to the guy who is hitting the green button. If there is a crash, you can assure that the boss will ask if this step was done. You can a) dry-run the program safe above the part, or b) use single-block command and reduced rapids.

Take a step back. One deep breath. Circle back to the beginning and run through the checklist one more time in your head. Did you remember everything?


Now tighten that seat belt, put on those cool reflective sunglasses, and press that green cycle-start button for blast off!



I challenge you…
I challenge you to print this article (including the cool images) and hang it at the machine or leave it in the break room. If your CNC Superstar does not know how to stay focused and follow a checklist, he is not Top Gun.



*Honestly, I cannot compare, but if someone can arrange for me to get a trip in a F-15, I’m in.

You are in charge of your next design

images
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”- Steve Jobs.

Not all of us get to design the next sexy iPhone but that does not have to stop you from making better designs and innovate. If you stop and think about it, you have a great deal of influence on the projects you are working on.
Take for example a simple fixture design for your next CNC project. Could you pick a different material, re-use old parts, or something be 3D printed?.
What about function and handling, could you make it more operator friendly?
You have the power to design and innovate many things around you. What about the design of your department, your shop floor or the structure on the way to handle the next big project.
Designing the next cool consumer product or a drill fixture always has the possibility for change and improvements.

In the book Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Tim Brown shares his many years of knowledge on how to inspire Innovation and the systems to transform organizations.

The power of Design Thinking.
There is always the old way to do things and it can defiantly be wise to listen to the old folks around as re-invinting the wheel seems silly, but with new materials and machines come new techniques.

Via Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation:
Technology still has not run its course. The communications revolution sparked by the Internet has brought people closer together and given them the opportunity to share perspectives and create new ideas as never before. The sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics have merged in the forms of biotechnology and nanotechnology to create the promise of lifesaving medicines and wondrous new materials. But these spectacular achievements are unlikely to help us reverse our ominous course. Just the opposite.
We need new choices.
A purely technocentric view of innovation is less sustainable now than ever, and a management philosophy based only on selecting from existing strategies is likely to be overwhelmed by new development at home and abroad.

It takes time to create the next big design.
Our culture is in a crazy emergency. With companies pressing their designers to get things created for the overnight 3D printing schedule or sample parts for the following morning meeting with the customer. We need to embrace patience and comeliness.

Via Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation:
One autumn day in 1940 the industrial designer Raymond Loewy was visited in his office by George Washington Hill, the president of the American Tobacco Company and one of the more colorful personalities in American business history. Hill offered Loewy $50,000 if he could improve upon the Lucky Strike package-a wager turned to Loewy and asked when it wuold be ready. “Oh, I don’t know, some nice spring morning I will feel like designing the Lucky package and you’ll have it in a matter of hours. I’ll call you then.”
Today we no longer feel that we must sit patiently and wait for some outrageous insight to strike us. Inspiration always involves an element of chance, but, as Louis Pasteur observed in a famous lecture of 1854, “Chance only favors the prepared mind.” Certain themes and variations-techniques of observation, principles of empathy, and efforts to move beyond the individual-can all be thought of as ways to preparing the mind of the design thinker ti find insight.

Its time to make thing better.
Tim Browns book is a great read. It will leave you in an innovative and inspiring mind.

Via Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation:
The field of innovation.
1. The best ideas emerge when the whole organizational ecosystem-not just its designers and engineers and certainly not just management-has room to experiment.
2. Those most exposed to changing externalities (new technology, shifting consumer base, strategic threats or opportunities) are the ones best placed to respond and most motivated to do so.
3. Ideas should not be favored based on who creates them. (Repeat aloud.)
4. Ideas that create a buzz should be favored. Indeed, ideas should gain a vocal following. however small, before being given organizational support.
5. The “gardening” skills of senior leadership should be used to tend, prune, and harvest ideas. MBAs call this “risk tolerance.” I call it the top-down bit.
6. An overarching purpose should be articulated so that the organization has a sense of direction and innovators don’t feel the need for constant supervision.

cadcamstuff corner

cadcamstuff corner
SolidEdge University 2014 begins
Link
[Lars:ST7 is here! It is always great when new stuff arrives in CAD]

Some Improvements to Mastercam Design
Link
[Lars:Mastercam X7 gets some new Solid tools!]

5 Amazing things you should know about SolidWorks Electrical
Link
[Lars:This product is taking off. 3D and electrical is awesome]

Giant Lego Bridge in Germany
Link
[Lars:Honestly, this should be done everywhere]

Cloud Computing – A few Things to Think About
Link
[Lars:Some good Pro’s and Con’s from my friends at Engineering.com]

cadcamstuff corner

cadcamstuff corner

Rhino 5 Service Release 7 Available
Link
[Lars:With 25 saves before it stops working, I think I need to review the trial version soon]

Mastercam Swiss Expert 2013 on a Tsugami S-327 5-axis machine
Link
[Lars:I could watch cool Swiss style machining videos on youtube all day long]

3D Printer Buyer’s Guide
Link
[Lars:My friends at CAPINC providing a “What to consider when purchasing a 3D printer”]

SolidWorks User Group Network
Link
[Lars:I failed to meet with Bobby Moore at SolidWorks 2014 and thank him for this great video]

Gallery: The engineering of U.S. Olympic Sochi bobsleds
Link
[Lars:As seen at SolidWorks World. The SolidWorks designed bobsled]

cadcamstuff Wins TenLinks Top Ten Blogger Award

Untitled
No one like people who brags, but today I am going to stick to the American Novelist Sarah Sheppard who said It ain’t bragging if it is true :-)
The great news source TenLinks and SolidWorks had teamed up this year and picked 10 End User and 10 Reseller blogs that got recognized for their contribution to the SolidWorks community.

I am truly honored to be among the selected, and I want to thank everyone who takes time to read and comment on this site. I wish one day I get to thank you in person and offer to buy you a beer!!