Category Archives: Manufacturing Design

The Risk of Choosing the Lowest Bid

We’re obsessed with price. Price seems to have become the single most important determinant in most purchases, with retailers offering to match each others’ price in a rush to the bottom. Similarly, price within the business-to-business marketplace has assumed an all-important position.  Given the realities of global competition, an emphasis on price at all levels of the business cycle is not only understandable, it is essential.  However, have we followed the historic human tendency and ‘carried it too far’?  How important is price; really?

Let’s admit right up front that price is important. When we compare competing proposals it’s a vital consideration, but what do you risk when it’s the only consideration?

When the cost of something becomes detached from the overall value proposition, it becomes the singular focus. Price is an honest measurement only when balanced against other factors.

Does price reflect quality?

When comparing the submitted proposals, is there a baseline quality that is presumed? Will some sacrifice the quality of material or design in order to achieve the desired price? When machine robustness, longevity, and ergonomics are important factors, sometimes it doesn’t pay to go cheap.

For every project within the manufacturing world, organizations are under a pressure cooker of dates, budgets and stringent quality controls.  Buyers run the risk of adversely affecting subsequent expenditures on maintenance, labour requirements, or the ability to sustain production if the initial investment was undercut. When equipment providers refuse to sacrifice quality to win the work, we protect our ability to provide sustained satisfaction for consumers in the long term.

Building more than custom automated machinery

Since equipment providers know we will be competing in the world of tight margins, we need to ask ourselves: Who are we selling to?  Does our customer truly understand the automated machinery world? Will they not only support their product but support our production personnel; or, are they responding to a price-only purchasing approach by providing minimal support?  A relationship with your customer is symbiotic, and in the end is most successful when common goals and best intentions are paramount.

We all know that there are substantial benefits to price competition.  Price competition drives efficiency.  Price competition drives innovation.  But does price justify our obsession with it?  A less than thoughtful response will cost us in the long run.

Coming Up with a Process Development Strategy for Your Product

You come up with a great idea for a new product that will completely turn your industry on its head. It’s brilliant, and as you work out the details for the product itself, you may overlook the actual processes that will bring this idea to life. By the end of your planning, you have a pile of sketches and either insufficient resources or no idea how to turn them into reality. Sound familiar?

TCA's Process Development Strategy

TCA’s Process Development Strategy

At TCA Technologies, we see this scenario all the time. Our technical team has a wealth of process development and automation experience. First, we will discuss your project requirements to understand your product vision and help you define our overall end-goals. Next, we’ll work with you to determine the manufacturing processes required to satisfy not only your immediate needs, but also develop a strategy to ramp up production to satisfy future capacity requirements. If the product launch is very successful, the scope of the project will typically need to change to accommodate growth. We always want to be sure everyone is on the same page and prepared to manage situations as they arise in case of unforeseen scope changes.

After we have all of the process details figured out, we will move on to the “Proof of Principles” phase which is a pretty exciting step since this is the phase we get started with hands-on research and development to determine the appropriate processes, procedures and methods required to produce your end product. Once we get all of these details sorted out, we can then start performing trials and tests to validate the initial process “Proof of Principles”. Next we will gather all of our test results, and collaborate with you to analyze them and figure out which manufacturing processes will work best for your project. You never want to rush into anything without first going through this detailed analysis. This will save you a lot of time, resources, and development costs down the road (trust us!).

Once we develop the right path, we can begin implementing the manufacturing processes for full scale production based on the outlined requirements and procedures we co-developed together. Our custom automation solutions can satisfy just about any project you can envision, and going through process development with TCA Technologies and you our customer ensures an even greater level of understanding and ultimately mutual success between us.

How 3-D Printed Prototypes Improve the Manufacturing Design Process

3-D printing has taken the manufacturing sector by storm, creating a brand new way for designers, engineers, inventors and others to model their product concepts. 3-D printers, within an additive manufacturing process, create custom structures out of various materials by depositing layers one at a time to create a solid 3-D structure. The process is similar to the motion of an ink-jet printer. Substances like plastic, metal, ceramic, and rubber can all be used to create products that serve a variety of industries.

Two major advantages of 3-D printing are reduced price and time: which are among the most important factors when selecting a manufacturing process. Small business owners are already using 3-D printers to increase the quality of their prototyping programs, create specific parts, and make customizable items. A third major advantage is the ability to manufacture a complex shape in a continual process rather than having to join multiple pieces to achieve the shape (which would be the case with traditional manufacturing methods). The end result is a more accurate shape and a stronger product.

But not everyone has jumped on the 3-D printing bandwagon just yet. While many might think that 3-D printing has not reached widespread adoption because of the price, the real reason is quite different. While basic 3-D printers cost just over $1,000, the main barrier is a lack of technical knowledge. For the most part, engineers and architects are the main demographic integrating 3-D printing into their business practice so far, thanks to their experience in computer design and scanning processes.

To combat this mainstream hesitation, 3-D printing programs will soon be found in office supply stores such as Staples, UPS, and PostNet, according to a recent article in Businessweek. The process is extremely beneficial for those in the design and prototyping sectors because of the significant decrease in turn-around time. David Friedfeld, a small business owner in New York said that his purchase of a 3-D printer “has taken three months off our production cycle [and] allowed us to stay closer to the market.”

TCA Technologies is excited to see how this new technology will positively contribute to custom design and manufacturing services. Once a concept product has been created, we can work together to design a customized automated system to get mass production underway.