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3 Ways to Increase the Engineering Capacity

Published: Sjaak Janssen

Perhaps you are struggling – like many engineering managers in high-tech machine manufacturing – to organize the engineering department in such way you have enough capacity available at all times. You want this, not only to shape current projects, but also to be able to start up development trajectories. In this blog post, we present you three coping mechanisms that allow you to properly manage the engineering capacity.

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1. Delaying Projects

You might choose to delay the project until the much needed capacity is available. A major advantage of this option is that knowledge and quality stays within your own organization. However, this poses one significant disadvantage. Since you are only able to realize the project later on, this has negative consequences for time-to-market in a world where short lead times are more of a requirement than a question.

Moreover, as all effort, time and energy of your engineers is geared towards current projects, there is little room for innovation. On top of this, you design and shape these projects merely from your own perspective. An objective view often proves to be hard, which may result in your engineers missing out on smart innovations.

Lastly, you want your available engineers to stay, especially now that it becomes harder and harder to find the right people in a competitive labor market. Therefore, it is important you offer your employees a working environment that offers attractive challenges. Many engineers are no longer satisfied with only working on regular projects. They are in a quest for a challenge and desire to work on innovative projects that bring them out of the daily grind and into exciting projects.

2. Hiring Temporary Employees Through Secondment

A second possibility may be hiring temporary employees through secondment. Even though this method enables you to increase the capacity, it poses a few considerable disadvantages:

  • The knowledge is not confined to one central location, since temporarily hired engineers often leave after the completion of a project.
  • You cannot fully guarantee quality because the knowledge about the application or product at hand may be insufficient.
  • Specific knowledge based on secondment hiring is hard to find – specialists are often employed long-term to turn long-term projects into a success. The knowledge of engineers who actually are available are often only valuable later on during the project, when the details of the design are elaborated on.  
  • The knowledge of temporary employees can be utilized only to a minimal extend due to the lack of extensive knowledge on the application. Furthermore, assignments are often heavily and clearly demarcated, leaving no room for innovation.
  • It influences your own capacity, since guidance from your organization is needed to ensure the desired output is delivered.

3. Outsourcing Projects Partially or Fully

This variable examines the design’s manufacturability. By incorporating this matter in an early stage of the development phase, manufacturing problems are recognized timely. Adjustments in the design prevent problems in this realm. In Design for Manufacturability, important choices are made when it comes to materials, dimensions, shape tolerances, positional tolerances and potential post-manufacturing activities of the materials. Additionally, it is determined what technologies will be adopted. What will be the shape of the product, and what production strategy is linked to this? Design for Manufacturability is a highly important phase in DfX because manufacturability influences the cost price of the machine and the lead time of the production cycle. For example, it might be possible to simplify the design. The result could be that production can be organized more efficiently. In turn, this has a positive influence on cost price and (production) lead time.

To summarize, there are various options available to organize your engineering capacity accordingly. The solution that delivers the desired result is heavily influenced by criteria such as knowledge- and quality assurance, the effect on time-to-market, room for innovation and the impact on in-house capacity.

 

 

 

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