I was recently invited to a local junior high school career day which caused me to reflect on communication. When asked, ‘what does an average day look like?’ I found the question to be enlightening. The answer was not full of the fun things I typically express about the parts we produce. An average day is filled with meetings, e-mails, conference calls, some more meetings, and reports. All of the tasks on the daily agenda surround the objective of clear communication.
While working in new products industry, the importance of clear communication is the key to being successful. When a new concept from one person’s mind develops, the idea then needs to be clearly communicated to an individual as well as a team who is responsible to produce the idea into 3-D. This can present some challenges, and has lead us to one of our key philosophies ‘work closely with customers at all times; before, during, and after a program’. We strive to get a clear understanding of our client’s requirements, so we are able to produce the correct output in the required time.
Many factors can impact the scope of work a program will require. Some examples include items in the contractual requirements, data handling, shipping, and invoicing. Much of this does not affect the manufacturing process of the product, but can be very troublesome when keeping relations open for ongoing programs. In addition, some of the challenges our team will stumble upon are part of the process in producing what the customer wants, or more importantly needs. Finding a way to communicate properly and effectively of how and what resources it will take to get the job completed can be a challenge to overcome.
During the career day event, I was able to communicate how 3D Printing, or Additive Manufacturing is applied in our world, yet there was not enough time to communicate how difficult some of the samples were to accomplish. To help the team and I get through these challenges, I always remember advice that was given to me on my first contracting program. The advice came from a sub-contractor, he said “Choose good subs, ask for their input, and trust that they know what can be done.” This is not to say trust openly, but once you have trust and most importantly communication, it can make all the difference for a successful project.
Have a great and productive 2014!