Outsourcing design work – how to get more “bang” for your buck

Outsourcing design work

When it comes to outsourcing design work, we have found over the years that our clients often fall into one of two categories:

i) small companies that are at the beginning of their product development journey and have little or no in-house expertise in the mechanical field or…

ii) large companies who already have a successful track record and mechanical resources in-house.

Which gets the better value?

Outsourcing as a smaller company

The small companies will often be headed-up by engineers with an electronic/hardware background and will try to do as much as possible in-house, often progressing to the point where they are really stuck for a technical solution and in desperate in need of expert support to enable their project to progress. The decision to outsource is generally made when they have failed to resolve their issues, so the work usually needs to be done with urgency to meet an impending deadline.  As decisions that affect the architecture/design will have already been made the resulting solution is likely to be a compromise and not at all ideal.

Clients fitting this description are often in unchartered water and so not likely to have an established supply chain for the down-stream activities. We are able to introduce companies that provide services such as specialist Industrial Design, prototype build & test, volume part production, sub-assembly services and eventually introduce a suitable EMS provider. We very much enjoy these projects as they allow us to exercise a wider range of our capabilities across the full development lifecycle and enable us to work with associates with whom we have long-standing relationships. The identification of these down-stream service providers is potentially of great benefit to the client and one that comes at no additional cost.

Outsourcing as a larger company

Large companies on the other hand, often have their own mechanical resources in-house and have long-established approved vendors for part production and test & assembly services. They are more likely to engage WDS to either provide some additional capacity to undertake a particular stand-alone project that they just don’t have the bandwidth for or to provide a very specific expertise that they do not have in-house.

An illustration of providing additional capacity is when a client needs something in particular (for example some production tooling or a test jig) and does not want to divert their engineering resources from core business. The client will typically produce a spec for the article and WDS will in turn generate a fixed-price quote for the design, engineering, documentation, build and supply of the finished goods.  As well as the physical item itself the deliverables will include the native design files, manufacturing documentation and supplier information so that the client is able to reproduce the item or modify the design later if desired.

For these same large clients, we are equally likely to undertake a specialist/“narrow but deep” activity such as the design of a thermal management solution to extend performance envelopes and/or increase reliability.

The importance of planning ahead

One of the benefits of working for larger companies with resources across multiple disciplines is that they tend to do more project and resource planning, so can engage third parties in a timelier manner.  It is generally accepted wisdom that something like 75% of the cost of a product is designed-in during the concept stage, so early engagement can provide the opportunity to make more changes that have bigger consequences and so potentially achieving much better results.

So, we are usually able to do a more effective job for (typically larger) clients that plan ahead and engage us earlier in their development lifecycle.  Smaller clients who typically don’t can still benefit greatly from our long-established contacts in the industry for concurrent and down-stream activities.

But otherwise getting more bang for your buck is simple. Early engagement in the development life cycle with a specialist like Warley Design can make a real, tangible difference to your overall project cost, regardless of your size or engineering resources.

To find out more about our product development or cost reduction services, call us now on Tel: +44 (0)1277 261066 or email us at info@warleydesign.co.uk


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