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Easing thermal management design, production

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:manufacturing? Centralization? heat issues?

"If you're embarking on something that will give you a competitive edge, you won't get there without a centralised design team and a relationship," said A1A's David Thompson. "Cost margins and profitability come from working with the right relationships."

Cost benefits from a centralised approach can exceed those projected from either overseas or domestic contractor outsourcing especially if the rationale for outsourcing has been predicated on reducing component costs. On the surface, this view may seem to be a paradox since component costs are often the source of overruns that project managers desperately want to avoid and believe outsourcing to be the solution. Yet the intense focus on those costs rather than on process is an enormous pitfall containing potential cost-prohibitive consequences. Anticipated savings based solely on outsourced product have been lost because of delays and revisions necessitated by resolution of serious thermal management issues. To focus on individual component costs (parts, human resources, etc.) is to lose the added value that centralised interaction can provide.

In fact, interaction is the greatest benefit of the centralised process. Problems that erupt from initial design through manufacturing should be expected, but delays due to different technical, manufacturing and even cultural frameworks should not. The whole point of centralisation is to keep all of these disciplines under one roof if possible or at least in close proximity where problems can be responded to promptly. Thermal management is the classic exampleone of the most critical elements for optimum performance and that means constant and close coordination among thermal and testing engineers, designers and manufacturers.

Cost control will always be crucial, which is the usual rationale for outsourcing. The approach, however, greatly escalates the potential for costly delays that will increase time and costs of preparing the product for the marketplace. That's especially true with heat management issues, functions that cannot be resolved by thermal engineers working separately component-by-component in an isolated bubble. Focusing on cost savings based on component prices misses the point. Centralisation is likely to pay for itself when the product is successfully completed.

About the author
Dennis Scott is thermal solutions manager for Noren Products Inc., Menlo Park, Calif., an industry leader in providing thermal solutions through heat pipe technology for a variety of industries and market sectors for more than 40 years.

To download the PDF version of this article, click here.


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