May 1, 2015
The Engineering Services Directory from Desktop Engineering is a source of outside expertise from design to production. It covers areas such as conceptual design, analysis and simulation, industrial design, IT, product testing, rapid prototyping and educational services.
It’s All About the Benefits
Engineering service companies can add value to a firm’s existing capabilities, or even introduce new ones into the workflow. So what are some of the perks of collaboration?
“One [benefit is] the availability of resources at any time,” says Akbar Farahani, vice president of Global Engineering at Engineering Technology Associates. “Outsourcing to a company like [ETA] gives you the ability of working with flexible costs instead of working with fixed costs in planning and budgeting.”
For manufacturing, equipment and materials is “where a service bureau can bring a lot of value, because as an engineering firm … it’s hard to basically have every type of process in-house. Particularly some of these processes like SL (stereolithography), SLS (selective laser sintering) or DMLS (direct metal laser sintering),” says Robert Bodor, vice president and general manager, Americas at Proto Labs. “As a service bureau, we’re able to offer [clients] a breadth of different technologies to serve whatever their needs are.”
Efficiency is another benefit to collaborating with a service provider. For example, Proto Labs helps automate the quoting and design process. With its software, the company can respond to clients faster and help them bring their products to market.
In addition to expanded resources, companies can also bring added expertise to the engineering workflow. TotalCAE, a high-performance computing service bureau, offers a range of consulting, management and implementation services.
“The main difference between us and the other technical providers is that we are a full-service provider that manages the complete engineering environment,” says Rod Mach, principal at TotalCAE. “So we’re not trying to sell a customer something and leave it there, we actually end up managing that for them.” TotalCAE is versed in practices that other IT departments might not be familiar with or are just starting to learn, Mach says.
Picking and Choosing
When deciding on what service bureau to work with, it’s important to consider several factors: company history, knowledge of customer applications and capabilities.
“There’s a number of things you want to think about,” says Bodor. “One is what’s it like to interact with them — from quoting to customer service.” He also says firms should evaluate whether a service provider has the breadth of capabilities to support what is required, and how well they can scale if needed.
Farahani notes that firms should look into experience when selecting an organization to work with. Researching how long the company has been in its field, if the project team has worked together before and their knowledge of required materials are all items to know, he says.
How can engineers get the most out of working with a services company? “Good preparation for outsourcing,” says Farahani. “It could be CAD data, finite element models or a BOM (bill of materials). All that needs to be prepared well, because as soon as you outsource, that’s the first thing that is required.” When it comes to working with an engineering service company, the possibilities can be endless. But finding the right organization doesn’t have to be difficult with DE’s Engineering Services Directory. Start looking today
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About the Author
Jess Lulka is a former associate editor for Digital Engineering. Contact her via [email protected].Follow DE